Welcome to ‘Where are they Golfing now’ where we track down people who used to work in and around the UAE Golf Industry. Simon Mees kindly stepped in and gave some great answers to our questions for ‘Where he is golfing now’.
Full name? Simon Mees
How long were you living in the UAE?
I lived in the UAE for 18 years from 1999 to 2017
Where have you worked in the UAE Golfing industry and when?
When I first moved to the UAE it was to take up a role at Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club where I worked from 1999 to 2008 before moving to Al Hamra Golf Club from 2008 to 2016
What were your duties and previous roles?
I joined DCGYC as a teaching professional and over the years progressed into senior management roles before joining Al Hamra Golf Club as General Manager.
You must have seen many changes in not only the way the UAE changed but also in the growth of the Golf industry. What are your thoughts on this progression while you were here?
Yes, you can say that when I first arrived in the UAE there were only four (grass) clubs, the Creek, Emirates, Nad Al Sheeba and Jebel Ali. Obviously, this number has increased dramatically over the past few years with the addition of some fantastic properties and facilities something for which the developers and management have to be commended on. Their vision, commitment and input in the development of these properties has definitely had a very positive effect on the growth and expansion of the game not only in the UAE but within the Middle East in as a whole. I do however feel that care needs to be taken now not to saturate the market whereby supply outweighs demand, it is a fine balance for developers to gauge and while it may be good for the consumer in the short term with more availability and more competitive rates, if the owners don’t see the returns it will not be long before the quality of the products begin to suffer and in turn the player.
Have you managed to get back to the UAE for any Golf or Golf events?
Regrettably, although I have returned a few times over the last year or so since I left the timings have not coincided for me to visit any of the fantastic events which take place. No, that the club here is open it may be a little easier for me to plan trips for next year for the desert classic which I do enjoy attending and is always a great event.
Do you miss anything about golf in the UAE and do you keep an eye on what happens?
Yes of course after living in the UAE for 18 years it is not easy to leave and not miss certain things, so I do try to keep an eye on what’s going on both with the new developments and within the game to see who is doing what. Obviously, I do still have a lot of contacts and friends in the UAE so I hear lots from them.
Can you talk a bit about where are you currently working and if you are still involved within Golf?
Yes I am still involved within the golf industry and have been based in Nha Trang, Vietnam overseeing the pre-opening of KN Golf Links, a new 27 Hole facility designed by Greg Norman
What is the standard of the courses in the area that you are currently located?
With the addition of KN Golf Links there are now three courses within the area of Nha Trang including Vinpearl Nha Trang and Diamond Bay Resort. They are both nice courses, Vinpearl would be the better of the two with an interesting arrival experience as you need to take a short five-minute boat ride to the island where it is located.
In your opinion, how is the Golf scene in the country/location where you are now, compared to the UAE?
It is an interesting comparison Vietnam is experiencing a boom in golf course development at the moment with a large focus by the government to use it as a tool to develop the tourism sector, which certainly seems to be working. I think the main difference between the two destinations would be the standards of experience, the UAE is very focused on delivering the highest standards of customer experience and service with costs of golf reflecting this and being fairly similar across the board (with an exception to a couple of the smaller clubs). Within Vietnam, there is a large diversity of product with some very high-end courses focused on delivering the highest of international standards and guest experience whilst there are other venues at the opposite end of the scale, so I would say that there is more variety for the consumer depending on their individual needs/wishes.
How was the transition from a UAE Golf role to another for you?
To be honest the transition was fairly smooth, obviously, there were numerous differences to adapt too but in general, it was a fairly easy transition. One of the main things you notice is the difference between the welcome process, with the UAE very expat centric companies generally have fairly sound practices in place from the initial welcome to the UAE to induction days to introduce all aspects of the company structure to new joiners. However in Vietnam, these practices are generally not in place, that’s is not to say that you are not made to feel welcome but you are left to kind of find your own feet in your first few days.
What did you learn from your time working in UAE Golf?
Wow, I could be here for a year answering that question, Having moved to the UAE at a fairly young age and fairly early stage in my career. I consider myself very fortunate to have worked with some absolute professionals and industry leaders during my time in the UAE and like to think that I took away some of their best attributes but also took away positives from the negatives I encountered which I feel is important. I believe that it is just as important to learn from the negatives as it is the positives in order to ensure that you don’t make the same or repeat that mistake. As I say I could go on for hours on this question, but I think on top of the obvious business aspects and skills as well as an appreciation for services standards the thing can take away most is my understanding of people management. Which allows me to deal with both customers and their expectations and also work associates enabling me to keep them engaged and motivated which in turn helps meet those customer expectations.
Would you recommend other people to work in UAE Golf and what advice would you offer?
Yes, most definitely and I think there are many more opportunities available now within various aspects of the industry from club management, event management, golf tourism and equipment distribution so if an opportunity arises then go for it.
UAE Golf Online would like to thank Simon for his time. If you want to be featured, please contact us.