The DP World Tour and the Emirates Golf Federation (EGF) today announced a long-term partnership aimed at developing golf in the United Arab Emirates for at least the next decade.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – JANUARY 17: Ahmed Skaik of the United Arab Emirates plays his fourth shot on the second hole during the second round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship at Abu Dhabi Golf Club on January 17, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

The two organisations will collaborate across all levels of the sport in the UAE, from grassroots initiatives right through to the professional game, building on the Tour’s long-term association with the region which dates back to 1989.

Today’s announcement includes a commitment to investing in a minimum of two Challenge Tour events in the country annually from 2023. There will be 30 spots in each of those tournaments allocated to the Emirates Golf Federation to help create playing opportunities and provide a pathway for Emirati golfers.

The partnership also includes an expansion of the Tour’s support of junior golf development in the UAE, working together with the Emirates Golf Foundation to help enhance its grassroots and player performance programmes.

The European Tour group, which incorporates the DP World Tour, Challenge Tour and Legends Tour, first visited the UAE in 1989 for the Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club.

Since then, the European Tour group has enjoyed a strong and enduring relationship with the UAE, which was underlined last November when DP World, the Dubai-headquartered provider of global smart end-to-end supply chain and logistics solutions, was named as the title sponsor of the group’s main Tour.

Alongside a record total prize fund for 2022 and minimum purses of US$2million for each solely sanctioned DP World Tour event, that announcement also promised an enhanced commitment to grassroots golf, particularly in the UAE, and significant investment in the Challenge Tour.

Tom Phillips, the European Tour group’s Head of Middle East, said: “Our special partnership with the Emirates Golf Foundation not only demonstrates the DP World Tour’s long-term commitment to developing golf in the United Arab Emirates, but also reflects the strength of the many relationships we enjoy in the country.

“We are delighted to confirm this partnership following our four hugely successful weeks in the UAE at the start of the year, delivering on the pledges we made at the launch of the DP World Tour in November.”

General Abdullah Alhashmi, Vice-Chairman of the Emirates Golf Federation, said: “We have been working with the Tour for more than 30 years and with DP World’s involvement now with the Tour, it became even more important for us to work together for the future of golf in this region.

“This partnership will take us to the next level. Having two Challenge Tour events is an important part of this so we can exchange spots with other federations and take our players abroad. That is part of our vision to develop golf here and develop our players to compete in the professional game.

“Hopefully one day we will have a winner on the DP World Tour, but we need the gradual progress, and taking our players step by step through the Challenge Tour first is important. It will provide tournaments in this region to give players from the Arab world the chance to play at a higher level and compete against other players from different countries.”

Ahmad Skaik, the UAE’s Number One player and a product of the Emirates Golf Federation’s junior golf development programme, said: “This is a very important partnership. It is great that the Tour and EGF are working together to give us more opportunities and to inspire the younger generations.

“It’s very good for the region and I am very excited about the future. For me, I am going to try to take every opportunity possible and play as many events as I can to get better and better.”

Rafa Cabrera Bello, the Ryder Cup player and four-time DP World Tour winner, added: “I’ve been living in Dubai for more than six years now and I’ve been collaborating with the EGF on a number of different things to help to grow the game in the region. My door is always open to help.

“Over the last 15 years since I’ve been coming to the UAE with the Tour, I’ve seen the courses get better and better, the events get bigger and bigger with more and more top names playing in them. So, we are getting it right and it’s just a matter of time before we see a top player come from the UAE. They have all the facilities and infrastructure, and golf is becoming more and more popular with the kids.

“The EGF is trying to support that rise as much as possible and to have this partnership with the DP World Tour can only be a good thing and it will help grow golf in the region.”

This year, the DP World Tour will play five tournaments in the UAE in 2022, including three out of the five Rolex Series events.

Thomas Pieters and Viktor Hovland triumphed in the first two of these, winning the $8million Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic respectively, before two consecutive events at Al Hamra Golf Club in Ras Al Khaimah – the Ras Al Khaimah Championship, won by Nicolai Højgaard, and the Ras Al Khaimah Classic, won by Ryan Fox – marked the Tour’s first visit to that Emirate, building on the Challenge Tour events held there from 2016-2018.

The 2022 season will conclude in Dubai from November 17-20 with the final Rolex Series event of the year, the DP World Tour Championship, which will become the Tour’s first event outside the Majors and WGCs to feature a US$10million prize fund.