Abu Dhabi 2017 | TOURISM & LIFESTYLE | B2B

Abu Dhabi has stepped up its game to achieve professionalism in terms of a sports culture, with investments into that sector.

Ed Edwards
Group General Manager
Abu Dhabi Golf Group
Barry Bremner
General Manager
Zayed Sports City (ZSC)

How has the your organization developed since its inception?

Ed Edwards Abu Dhabi Golf Club was designed by world-renowned golf course architect Peter Harradine to service Abu Dhabi as the capital's first golf club, taking into account Abu Dhabi's future as a tourist destination. Since then, the resort has developed into a five-star golf resort with the addition of the Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa, Hotel. We are managed by Troon Golf, and owned by the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC). We have also become the host of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, which is one of the biggest events of the European Tour with a huge international audience.

Barry Bremner One of our biggest accomplishments was the establishment of the ZSC Academy, the first to operate directly under our umbrella. It has grown exponentially by attracting around 700 members within its first three months. We also entered into new corporate relationships with our partnership with the National Ambulance Service for the provision of ambulances and paramedics on site; our relationship with Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi to do a community program; and a community cycling program for families. We also run an amateur Abu Dhabi football league on behalf of Mubadala as part of a partnership. Finally, we have set our sights on the community goals contemplated as part of the Year of Giving with a big focus on CSR and, specifically, sports.

What are the main opportunities for Abu Dhabi as a tourist destination in the region?

EE One of our biggest markets is international travelers seeking a golfing destination. Abu Dhabi very much offers that with its selection of hotels and golf courses. Abu Dhabi is well supported by initiatives from the Tourism and Culture Authority and Sports Council to promote it as a leader in global golf tourism and the hosting of major sporting events. For Abu Dhabi Golf Club in particular, we are very proud to have been recognized this year by the Middle East Golf Awards as the golf course that provided the best overall golf experience in the region. Furthermore, we also have a large membership base of golfers that live in the city and use our course daily, in addition to golfers in the Middle East who visit us.

BB We work around an events strategy focused on international sports and entertainment, which includes music, comedy, and family. We are also working with the Sports Council, TCA, and with a number of other stakeholders around sports tourism. There are six different sectors, and there are a number of specific countries we are aiming to target to bring sports tourism to the country. Through these strategies we have attracted the FIFA Club World Cup for 2017 and 2018, the Asian Cup, and the Special Olympic World Games in 2019. Everybody focuses on football; we are extremely excited to host the FIFA World Cup. We also really excited about the Special Olympics since it will probably be the largest sporting event hosted in the UAE, with 7,500 participants, 15,000 volunteers, and 3,000 press people already confirmed.

What is your broader strategy for social development and community engagement?

EE Our plan is to offer an exemplary product and service to our existing members and guests whilst continuing to attract new people to the facility and ultimately raise awareness and grow the game of golf. We want to be energizing and engaging to make golf interesting for a new generation that might not have played. We want to attract new people to visit that have not been to the club before, whether it is through a golf activity, a social activity, or a community activity. We want to strengthen our appeal to tourists both from the other Emirates, from the Gulf region and from the rest of the world. As a club we also have a social responsibility to encourage future sustainability from both an environmental and social standpoint.

BB Around 60-70% of what we do is around community engagement; we also have events like Ramadan tournaments that we run specifically in bowling. We have what could be considered smaller-scale events such as the Mubadala Community League and the Tennis Cup. We have just finished the Abu Dhabi Wilson Tennis Cup, which had a record number of participants. We also partner with private entities and governmental entities to actually run some of these community engagement events. We are developing more and more community programs that are supplemented by private- and government-sector companies, and there is a huge focus on health and wellbeing now.