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Ras Al Khaimah prepares for Golf Challenge 2016

Perfect spot for a picnic: Sandro Piaget, Joel Sjöholm, and Jurrian Van der Vaart takes in the views

A trio of contenders in the inaugural Ras Al Khaimah 2016 Golf Challenge experienced ‘High Tee’ with a difference, as they scaled the towering Jebel Jais, the UAE’s highest mountain, before firing a series of blistering drives into the rocky caverns of the lunar-like landscape of the Al Hajar mountains.

Sweden’s Joel Sjöholm, Dutchman Jurrian Van der Vaart and Monaco’s Sandro Piaget were a couple of hundred metres short of Jebel Jais’s 1,934 metre peak for the elevated tee box specially created by Ras Al Khaimah’s Tourism Development Authority.

“That was probably the only time I’ve ever stood on a tee box and been completely content knowing my drive is destined for the rocks,” laughed Van der Vaart, 31.

“Seriously though, it is very beautiful up here.

“The mountain environment is stunning and it’s completely at odds with the typical beach or desert landscapes the UAE is known for.”
Sjöholm, 31, was equally impressed: “I didn’t even know there were mountains in the UAE, especially mountains as vast as these.

“You can’t quite see Oman from here but it’s fascinating to know this stretch of mountains link the final two tournaments of the season; standing up here today has really brought it home that we’re chasing end of season honours now,” said the Swede.

Piaget, 29, who hails from a family world famous as luxury watch manufacturers, was happy with the extra distance he generated off the elevated tee box.

“I normally hit it over 300 yards off the tee but these drives were going 400 yards easy; well, I think they were, they travelled and fell so far there was no way to tell where they ended up.

“You have to be so controlled in tournaments, so it was nice to have a ‘grip it and rip it’ day up here,” ” said Piaget.

The promotional stunt took place ahead of the Ras Al Khaimah 2016 Golf Challenge, which was held at Al Hamra Golf Club and organised by the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority.

Haitham Mattar, chief executive, RAKTDA, revealed the exact spot the players smashed their mountain drives would be home to a new tourism project in months to come.

“In-line with our strategy to leverage Ras Al Khaimah’s stunning natural assets in our product development initiatives, this plateau on Jebel Jais will eventually be home to a bespoke viewing deck concept,” said Mattar.

“We want to give visitors and residents of all nationalities and ages a purpose-built facility where they can experience the inspiring landscapes of the Al Hajar mountains in temperatures that are regularly ten degrees cooler than anywhere else in the UAE.”