Golf News for Tuesday, August 7, 2007 | Courses

Gary Player is designing two courses for offshore Abu Dhabi city

Gary Player is to design the first of two championship golf courses planned for Saadiyat Island - the 27 square kilometer island offshore Abu Dhabi city, which is being transformed into a world-class tourism, culture and residential destination.

The Saadiyat course will be the first in the Arabian Gulf with several beach-front holes. It is also the first in the UAE to be designed by the South African who is acknowledged as the most successful international golfer of all time, and whose career includes three Masters wins, three British Open titles, two PGA championships and the US Open title to complete the Grand Slam.

"Gary Player is renowned as much for his dedication to the principles of design excellence as he is for his golfing accomplishments. He is recognized worldwide, as an uncompromising perfectionist who settles for nothing but the best," said HE Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) and of Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), the name behind the transformation of Saadiyat Island.

"We are convinced Gary will bring to this project his impeccable set of values and insistence on quality which have earned him worldwide respect. This course will be a world-class asset for Saadiyat Island and Abu Dhabi and one capable of hosting international-standard tournaments," added Sheikh Sultan, "We were also particularly impressed with the humanitarian work of the Player Foundation which has improved educational resources for underprivileged children across Africa, Asia and the USA."

A 'first' for The Player Group in Abu Dhabi, Gary Player expressed enthusiasm about being a part of the transformation of Saadiyat Island: "I am both honored and delighted to be appointed to design this golf course at Saadiyat Island and look forward to producing a world-class facility that will compliment this world-class destination."

The Gary Player Signature course, which is scheduled for completion in 2009, is being constructed in the Saadiyat Beach district - one of seven distinct zones within Saadiyat Island. According to Senior Course Designer Jeff Lawrence, "The objective is to keep the design of the Beach Course simple and straight forward, yet visually stunning, while concentrating design efforts on the strategic values that will stand the test of time."

The golf course is due to be presented this September, when TDIC also hopes to appoint a clubhouse designer. The facilities will be open to club members as well as some hotel pay-and-play guests. An international operator will be appointed to run the facility.

A second 'ocean-style' golf course is to be built in Saadiyat Island.
The two courses will substantially enhance the golf tourism offering of Abu Dhabi which already has a championship course at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club, which is owned by TDIC, and is home to the annual European Tour-backed Abu Dhabi Golf Championship to be staged for the third time in January.

"Saadiyat Beach is a dramatic setting for any golf facility with the clubhouse and the course planned to offer sweeping Gulf and beach views," said Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General, ADTA and Managing Director, TDIC. "Our research has shown that golf is a key ingredient in the meetings and business tourism sectors which we anticipate will account for one third of our targeted three million annual tourist arrivals by 2015."

The unique environment of Saadiyat Beach, which lies to the north west of Saadiyat Island and is positioned as its premier hospitality district, presents special opportunities for hotel and resort developers.

The Saadiyat Beach course deal was officially signed at Carnoustie in Scotland during the British Open between Gary Player and Lee Tabler, CEO, TDIC.

"Saadiyat Beach is master-planned to produce a range of five-star resorts flanking nine kilometers of pristine beach, a championship golf course with freehold villas, dedicated sailing club and private beach clubs. The Gary Player course will be a key component of this overall celebrity see-and-be-seen environment," said Tabler.

TDIC's aim for Saadiyat Beach is to have highly landscaped resorts noted for their tranquil sanctuary designs and ambience. TDIC has laid down strict development guidelines for the resorts which have a series of natural sand dunes and fauna lying directly behind their beachfronts. Development concepts for the beach have to take into consideration the natural environment as well as offering hotel guests recreational amenities and entertainment on a par with the world's best resort settings.

TDIC has now chosen a limited number of select developers for projects on Saadiyat Beach and a series of five-star, luxury waterfront resorts have been announced. These include projects by Abu Dhabi National Hotels, the National Corporation for Tourism & Hotels, Al Jaber PSC and Rotana Hotels, which were all subject to design briefs with criteria including subtle elements which reflect the unique culture of the UAE. The resorts, which are designed to create a destination in harmony with nature while providing premium luxury hospitality, are due to open in 2009. Most boast beach-front cafés and restaurants as well as wellness centers and spas.

Guests will access the resort beaches by a series of boardwalks and pathways that will meander through a picturesque dune environment.
Once on Saadiyat Beach, visitors will experience a completely natural setting that is only a few minutes walk from their hotel rooms.

The Saadiyat Beach concept is expected to have strong appeal, particularly among European tourists who are looking for the kind of excellent waterfront destinations the island represents.

Caption: Player (left) and Lee Tabler(right) after sealing the Gary Player signature course for Saadiyat Island

About Gary Player Design
Established in the early 1980s and widely recognized as the most successful international golf course architectural firm in the world, Gary Player Design has branded over 250 layouts with the mark of a champion. Over its existence, the firm has worked on five continents and in over 30 countries, and prides itself on taking Gary Player and his design experience to emerging markets to help develop the game of golf globally. The company offers three tiers of golf course design brands, Black Knight Design™, Player Design™ and Gary Player Signature Design™ - of which Gary Player is personally involved in each Signature project. The cornerstone of Gary Player's design approach is to create playable and memorable golf courses within the constraints of a given site, while being ultra-sensitive to the surrounding environment. The result is a portfolio of award-winning and environmentally-recognized courses around the world, including the Top 3 Courses in South Africa and a multitude of Asian awards -
most notably the Best Golf Course in both Hong Kong and Indonesia.
Multiple rankings have also been received in the US by Golf Digest and Golf Magazine, and several courses in the US have been certified
by the Audubon International as well for environmental stewardship.
www.garyplayerdesign.com.

About Saadiyat Island:
Saadiyat Island - which translates from Arabic as Island of Happiness
- is the largest single mixed-use development in the Arabian Gulf.
The 27 square kilometer natural island - half the size of Bermuda - lies only 500 meters offshore Abu Dhabi island - the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. Saadiyat Island is being developed into a complete visitor and residential destination.

Saadiyat Island represents one of the most important development opportunities in Abu Dhabi's history. The island, which has 30kms of water frontage and boasts many natural eco-features including mangrove forests, is being developed as a strategic international tourism destination and marks a new era in the rapid evolution of Abu Dhabi, the largest of the seven emirates which form the UAE Federation.

Saadiyat Island will be developed in three phases with total completion scheduled for 2018. The masterplan envisages six highly individual districts and includes 29 hotels, including an iconic 7- star property, three marinas with combined berths for around 1,000 boats, museums and cultural centers, two golf courses, civic and leisure facilities, sea-view apartments and elite villas.

Saadiyat Island is expected to be home to a community of more than 150,000 people - the same population size as Chang Mai in Thailand, Oxford in the UK or Hollywood in the USA.

Saadiyat Island will be linked to the main Abu Dhabi island and the Abu Dhabi mainland via two, 10-lane freeways making the destination easily accessible to Abu Dhabi International Airport which will be just a 25 kilometer drive away.

Saadiyat Island is being developed by the Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), an independent public joint stock company of which Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority is the sole shareholder. TDIC's strategy is to dispose of development land on the island to private investors who will each develop their sites in accordance with the masterplan and supporting planning regulations and design guidelines.

About Tourism Development & Investment Company:
Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC) is a public joint stock company established under Law No: 12 of 2005 as decreed by the Abu Dhabi Ruler and UAE President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. TDIC is an independent organization empowered to manage the tourism investment zones of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), which directs and implements strategy for the expansion of the emirate's tourism sector. TDIC will develop the real estate assets that support ADTA's mission of assisting UAE economic diversification through tourism development.

TDIC, launched with an initial paid-up capital of AED100 million (US
$27.5 million) with its shareholding fully owned by ADTA, operates along strictly commercial lines with its projects being self- sustaining and economically feasible. Its activities include creating development and tourism related concepts for specific sites and locations, disposing of, or repositioning, government-owned tourism related assets, entering into joint ventures with investment partners for assets such as hotels or residential products, as well as serving as the master developer for large scale projects.

About Abu Dhabi:
Spread over 87,340 square kilometers, Abu Dhabi is the largest of the seven emirates which make up the United Arab Emirates and accounts for more than 85% of the country's total landmass. The UAE is one of the six members of the Arabian Gulf Co-operation Council.

Abu Dhabi city, built on the largest of almost 200 natural offshore islands in the emirate, is the capital both of the emirate and of the UAE. It is the federal seat of government and home to most ministries and institutions, embassies, state broadcasting facilities and oil companies.

Abu Dhabi's population is currently around 1.6 million and is expected to grow by 6.8 percent per annum over the next decade to a projected 3.4 million by 2015.

Abu Dhabi has an estimated 9.2% of the world's proven oil reserves and 4% of its total proven natural gas reserves. The emirate has a per capita income of US $46,185 - the highest in the world. Realizing the challenges posed by the country's heavy economic reliance on finite carbon resources, the emirate's leadership is actively pursuing economic diversification.

Media Contact:
Gida Campbell
Black Knight International
+1 561 624 0300
gida@garyplayer.com