An oases of fairways


The Middle East and especially the Gulf are increasingly becoming popular golfing destinations on the world tourism calendar.

The green oases of fairways set against the desert backdrop are no mirage and have been brought about by careful planning, thoughtful construction and dedicated upkeep.

Most of the courses in the region have been constructed by renowned architects and designers flown in from around the world.

The sunny climate of the region combined with the top-of-the-line hotel and entertainment facilities is attracting top names in the sport.

When Dubai built its first grass championship course in the Middle East in 1988, the move generated much scepticism and amazement and some derision.

Today, the Emirates Golf Club is the home to Dubai Desert Classic, a major event in the PGA calendar which this year attracted a galaxy of golfing stars led by Tiger Woods, the world's number one player.

Emirates Golf Club along with the Dubai Creek Golf Club and the Jebel Ali Resort and Golf Club today support a thriving leisure industry in Dubai. Two more golf courses are on the cards for Dubai further enhancing its appeal as an international golfing destination.

Many more golf courses have been built around the region since Emirates' debut in 1988 including Bahrain's Riffa Golf Club which recently celebrated its second anniversary, the Doha Golf Club, home of Qatar Masters, the Al Ahmadi Golf Club in Kuwait, the Abu Dhabi Golf Club and the Abu Dhabi Airport Golf Club.

Golf academies attached to the clubs and several smaller 9-hole courses have also spurred local interest in the game.

Hotels in the region are linking up with golf clubs to tap into this growing market with packages to rope in serious as well as amateur golfers.