Inside Golf Travel : IG Travel January 2015
22 INSIDE GOLF TRAVEL | January 2015 Wow and wonder in Built on the wealth of oil, Dubai has grown into one of the world’s most vibrant, modern cities where golf, business and tourism is booming, writes DAVID NEWBERY IT’S 5:20am in Dubai when the magnificent Emirates Airbus 380 from Brisbane touches down ahead of schedule. It’s my first visit to Dubai and what I know is that it boasts the world’s tallest skyscraper, the world’s first seven-star hotel, the world’s biggest man-made port and world-class golf courses. Oh, and it’s a shopping paradise. Arriving at Dubai International Airport, I soon realise it too is huge. Passengers on my Emirates flight take a train to another section of the airport to collect their bags. Last year, the airport clocked up more than 70 million passengers making it arguably the busiest airport in the world. Leaving the airport, I’m driven along a 14-lane highway to the luxurious five-star Waldorf Astoria – an ocean-side hotel on Jumeirah Palm. At first, I thought I’d arrived at the wrong address. The Waldorf Astoria is palatial. From my private balcony, I look across the water and focus on the city’s skyscrapers dwarfed by the 828-metre Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest building. Close to those buildings is the Emirates Golf Club – home to the first green grass course in the Middle East and host of the inaugural Dubai Desert Classic in 1989. Today, there are 11 magnificent golf courses in Dubai designed by some of the world’s best including Greg Norman, Jack Nicklaus, Ian Baker-Finch, Ernie Els, Robert Trent Jones II, Colin Montgomerie, Sir Nick Faldo, et al. These courses are a blessing for golf thrill-seekers. I’m in Dubai for the European Tour- ending Race to Dubai’s $US8m DP World Tour Championship and to play some golf and check out the tourist attractions. The DP World Tour Championship is played on the Greg Norman-designed Earth Course at Jumeirah Estate where the Shark’s second design is the Fire Course – a rustic beauty that complements the Earth Course. In recent years, Dubai has become the sporting event capital of the United Arab Emirates. Aside from golf, the emirate hosts tennis championships, the Emirates Airlines Dubai Rugby Sevens, the World Cup of horseracing, international cricket, camel Drop off your shopaholic partner here and you won’t see her or him for days. Outside the mall and in the shadow of the world’s tallest building is the world’s largest dancing fountain set on the 30-acre Burj Lake. Tourists galore gather to watch water, illuminated by thousands of lights, shoot up 150m in the air. It’s an amazing spectacle. Away from the glitz and glamour and across Dubai Creek, tourists can enjoy a more authentic shopping experience. You cross the creek on an open wooden iconic sights from altitude take the Burj Khalifa lift to the viewing platform on the 124st floor (it takes 60 seconds), but even better is the 25-minute Seawings seaplane scenic flight. The nine-seater Cessna takes off from Jebel Ali Golf Resort and takes in the wonders of Palm Jumeirah, Burj Khalifa, World Islands, Burj Al Arab as well as the historic Dubai Creek before landing beside the Dubai Creek golf course. GOLF: After our aerial adventure, our group of writers from Australia, South Africa, China and the UK enjoy lunch at Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club. From the deck, I gaze out over the Karl Litten-designed championship layout. The manicured fairways and pristine greens whet my appetite for golf and I can’t wait to tear the head-cover off the driver and let rip. The hire set of PING clubs don’t let me down. The course, situated in the heart of the city on Dubai Creek, has a clubhouse that closely resembles the Sydney Opera House. It’s midweek and the course, which has hosted two Dubai Classics, is teeming with golfers. Golf in Dubai strategic advisor David Spencer, an Australian, tells me more than 400,000 rounds are played on Dubai’s 11 courses annually. All the courses and clubhouses are first- class with green fees ranging from $200- $300 in peak season. Water, palm tree-line fairways and clever bunkering are a predominant feature at Dubai Creek. The 18th, which hugs Dubai Creek and has water down the right and in front of the green, is a super finishing hole. Back at the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai Tourist on a desert safari Dubai Creek golf course The Souks shopping experience Dubai Mall taxi service water taxi dodging ancient dhows that trade around the Gulf – just as they did before the discovery of oil in the 1960s. There is an atmosphere of vibrancy around the markets. It’s where tourists and ex-pats haggle over textiles, spices, jewellery (including fake watches), shoes, bags, perfume and more. Step back in time and explore the labyrinth of cobbled streets in the restored Al Fahidi Historic District with its wind- towered houses, art galleries and cafes. The Dubai Museum tells the story of how Dubai grew from a fishing village to the metropolis you see today. FLYING HIGH: If you want to see Dubai’s racing, sailing and falconry – a mainstay of desert safaris. SHOPPING: Dubai Mall, the biggest in the world, is famous for its shopping. When it comes to retail therapy, the multi-level Dubai Mall sets the bar high. It takes up 1.1 million sq m of space and there are 1200 retail outlets and 160 restaurants. I wander into what must be the world’s biggest bookstore. It occupies 6300 square metres of floor space and has more than one million books on the shelves. The mall even has an aquarium and underwater zoo with 30,000 sea creatures.
Inside Golf Travel December 2014
IG Travel February 2015