Next Mena Golf stop: Saudi Arabia

DUBAI — The second edition of the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) Golf Tour this year will incorporate overseas travel for the very first time, with more events and prize money.

By Alex Leach

Published: Fri 22 Jun 2012, 12:12 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 1:56 PM

The Dirab Golf and Country Club, which is located 45 kilometres south west of Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, will host the third stage of the 2012 competition.

Nestled in the picturesque Tawfiq valley, the club boasts the only grassed, Par 72, Championship course in the Gulf kingdom and features lush, tree-lined fairways and perfectly manicured greens.

The Arab Golf Federation (AGF) and Royal & Ancient (R&A) affiliated tour shall also have six phases, as opposed to 2011’s four, with the combined prize fund increased by $100,000 to $325,000 overall.

“We’re very happy that we’ve been invited to go to Saudi Arabia for the third tournament of the season,” said the chairman of the Mena Golf Tour, Mohamed Juma Buamaim, of the fledgling Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation (SMGF) initiative at Wednesday afternoon’s announcement.

“It’s an important move for the tour to go outside of the UAE and – hopefully – other countries will come on board, if not for this season, then in the future.

“The membership to the tour has also been very good. We have almost 340 members so far and there’s been an increase of about 75 since last year, which shows there’s an interest and a need for such a tour.”

Juma Buamaim stressed, however, the “most important incentive” or “prize” for all of the professional and amateur participants is the four invitations (three for pros, one for amateur) to the Omega Dubai Desert Classic for the top-ranked performers on the respective Order of Merits.

One such individual, Morocco’s Ahmed Marjan, has since been granted a one-year scholarship by the SMGF to improve his all-round game still further.

“The tour was a success in my mind simply because it gave us some sort of parameter to chose somebody from this part of the world to support, nourish and take onto the next step,” Juma Buamaim added.

“As the SMGF is responsible for this tour, we’ve chosen Ahmed Marjan, from Morocco, to be that person this year.

“He’s 19 years old and was the leader of the Order of Merit for the amateurs last season.

“We feel that he has the potential and we’ve decided that we will take care of him all of the way until after the Mena Tour, whereby we will train him up physically, golf-wise and in the English language.

“Hopefully, through Ahmed, we will get some more kids from this part of the world.”

Adel Zarooni, the secretary general of the AGF, added: “As a tournament, it has created a tour which is promoting the development of golf in the UAE and the Arab world among amateurs and professionals.

“In terms of amateurs, we have Mr Marjan from Morocco, who we, golf in DUBAi and the Mena Tour are supporting to promote and develop his skills.

“Hopefully, in the very near future, he’ll be able to turn into a professional. The aim of this tournament, golf in DUBAi and the AGF is to promote and develop golf in the Arab world.”

The 2012 Mena Golf Tour kicks off at Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club on September 24th, while the season-ending Mena Tour Championship will be held at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club from October 29th to 31st.

Each tournament, which carries World Ranking points, will be a minimum 54-hole stroke-play event, with the top 50 – plus ties – going forward to the final round.

The top three professionals and the leading amateur on their respective Order of Merits will be invited to compete in the 2013 Omega Dubai Desert Classic in a continuation of the tour’s policy to substantially enhance the careers of its members.

Ahmed Marjan, Simon Payne (general manager, Tower Links Golf Club); James Shippey (general manager, Al Badia Golf Club); Adel Zarooni (secretary general, Arab Golf Federation); Mohamed Juma Buamaim (chairman, Mena Golf Tour); Mustafa Al Hashmi (club manager, Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club) and Gavin Chappell (head golf professional, Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club) attended the meeting.

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