History was made and optimism reigned when Shaikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi, chairman of the Arab Golf Federation, formally inaugurated the Tour at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, the venue of the Abu Dhabi Golf Citizen Open, on Monday.
Shaikh Fahim, who is also the head of the Emirates Golf Federation, unveiled the Tour trophy in the company of Mohamed Juma Buamaim, chairman of the MENA Golf Tour, and Khalfan Al Kaabi, a board member of the Emirates Golf Federation.
“With international professional and amateurs joining the tour as full members, it will contribute immensely to the promotion of golf in the region,” said Shaikh Fahim.
“The tour will also help position the region on the sporting map as an emerging market and drive golf tourism. The importance of the region, which has a population of about 400 million, is enhanced by its exceptional location as it acts as a bridge between vibrant Asian economies, European-Mediterranean partnership opportunities and Africa’s significant potential for development,” he said.
The tour is designed to help golfers from the UAE and other Arab countries progress to the next level by giving them the opportunity to test themselves against opponents from around the world.
“One big reason why golfers from other parts of the world are successful is because they have more competitive opportunities,” said Buamaim. The region’s top golfers now have the platform and it’s up to them how they exploit it.”
In all 72 players, including 15 amateurs, from different parts of the world are competing in the first of the four-event Tour that got under way with Andy Andrews, a UAE-based professional, striking the first tee shot at 7.30am.
A superb new initiative by the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation, the Tour comprises four events in its inaugural edition, and each will receive official R&A recognition and carry World Amateur ranking points, a unique feature positioning it at the pinnacle of professional golf in the Middle East and North Africa region.
The top three professionals and the leading amateur from the Order of Merit will receive special invitations to compete in the 2012 Omega Dubai Desert Classic and, possibly, other Tour events in the region, like the King Hassan II Trophy, the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship and the Qatar Masters.
The MENA Golf Tour, which boasts a combined prize fund of US$ 225,000 (Dh826,000), is funded by the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation while Omega is the Official Timekeeper and Mercedez-Benz the official car sponsor.
Photo caption: Shaikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairman of the MENA Golf Tour, unveiling the winner’s trophy along with Mohamed Juma Buamaim, Chairman of the MENA Golf Tour, and Khalfan Al Kaabi, a board member of the Emirates Golf Federation, at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club on Monday