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Dubai tiger woods, dubai golf, dubai sports
Aziz Shah/AP
U.S. golfer Tiger Woods is seen when he unveiled his ambitious golf project, The
Tiger Woods Dubai , touted as the first course in the world designed by Tiger Woods.

Dubai Expands Sports Luxury with Tiger Woods Golf Course

August 27, 2008 11:36 AM
by Denis Cummings
A $1.09 billion golf course designed by Tiger Woods is on schedule to open next year, enhancing Dubai’s rising status as a world-class sports city.

Tiger’s Course to Open in 2009

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Woods will become the third professional golfer to design a golf course in Dubai, following Colin Montgomerie in 2006 and Ernie Els earlier this year. His course, like Els’s, is part of the Dubailand complex that is a significant part of Dubai’s transformation intto a world-class entertainment destination.

Dubailand, a brainchild of Dubai’s leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, will soon include Dubai Sports City, a massive sports complex designed to lure foreign athletes and competitions.

Dubai Sports City is scheduled to have a 60,000-seat outdoor stadium, a 25,000-seat cricket stadium, a 10,000-seat indoor arena and a 5,000-seat field hockey stadium, all scheduled to be completed by 2010. It has also attracted tennis player David Lloyd, English soccer power Manchester United and the International Cricket Council to run sports academies.

Dubai has a substantial sports culture outside of the Sports City, with the world’s richest marathon, golf tournament and horse race. Dubai’s leaders hope that Dubailand and the Sports City will help attract cricket, soccer and rugby teams, and even the Olympics Games.

Background: The rise of Dubai

Over the past decade, Dubai has established itself as a city of tremendous wealth and luxury, fueled primarily by the region’s oil reserves and the trade through the massive Jebel Ali port. The first golf course was built in 1989, and through the 1990s hotels and shopping malls sprouted in an effort to attract tourism. The real estate market was opened to foreigners in 2002, sparking a rise in construction and in prices.

Dubai has begun construction on several ambitious and eye-catching projects over the past several years, most famously the world’s largest artificial islands and the world’s tallest manmade structure.

The latest mega-project is Dubailand, constructed by Tatweer, a company under Sheikh Mohammed’s Dubai Holding Company. It is an enormous entertainment complex with theme parks, resorts, malls, museums, hotels, athletic venues and other structures. “In total, the development will span an area twice the size of Disney World and boast 45 mega-projects, each capable of being a stand-alone destination in its own right but concentrated into one swath of desert,” writes HowStuffWorks.

Opinion & Analysis: What is the future of Dubai?

Dubai’s leaders have ambitious goals, hoping that the city will become the world’s center of business, tourism and sport. “The reality is we are only just now getting started,” says Malcolm Thorpe, marketing director of Dubai Sports City. “With stadiums being built, we can start making specific plans and having real discussions about what events we might be able to stage, whether it is a cricket or football tournament or the Olympics.”

Thorpe also mentions hosting a professional rugby or cricket team, and even suggests that an NBA or NHL team would move to Dubai. For now, The New York Times reports, Dubai Sports City is looking to “host an annual ‘flagship’ event in each of six sports: soccer, rugby, tennis, golf, field hockey and cricket.”

The city considered a bid for the 2016 Olympics, but passed; it is now looking at 2020 or 2024. It faces several logistical problems—most notably the weather—and the international media scrutiny of the games may expose the darker side of Dubai.

“Laissez-faire economics and lax regulation let organised crime, trafficking of prostitutes, money laundering and terrorist financing flourish,” writes the Financial Times. “Labour is a particular concern, with reports of abuse and strikes from the south Asian-dominated workforce coming amid pressure groups seeking more rights.”

Furthermore, it is debatable whether the city will still be flourishing in 2020 or 2024. Many people believe that the Dubai real estate market is a bubble waiting to burst, though a strong oil market and a diversifying economy is likely to keep Dubai prosperous for the foreseeable future. “Yet oil booms have an erratic track record,” writes Bloomberg.com’s William Pesek, “just about every one has been followed by a painful bust.”
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