Exclusive: We could see an Emirati winner on Tour in the next five years, says van Otterdijk

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DP World chief communications officer Daniel van Otterdijk said that these are exciting times for golf. — Supplied photo
DP World chief communications officer Daniel van Otterdijk said that these are exciting times for golf. — Supplied photo

Dubai - Starting 2022, the European Tour will be called the 'DP World Tour'

By Joy Chakravarty

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Published: Thu 18 Nov 2021, 11:36 PM

DP World, the Dubai-based global logistics company, has always been a big supporter of professional golf. It has been the title sponsor of European Tour’s season-ending championship in Dubai for the past 13 years.

Last week, the company announced it was elevating its association and will now have the naming right. Starting 2022, the European Tour will be called the ‘DP World Tour.’ It’s a significant long-term, multi-million-dollar investment, giving DP World access to nearly 46 events in all continents. The DP World Tour Championship, which is being played at the Jumeirah Golf Estates this week, will become a $10 million prize money event.

In an exclusive interview to Khaleej Times, Daniel van Otterdijk, chief communications officer, DP World talks about the deal, certainly the biggest ever in the history of the European Tour.

Let’s start with the big announcement and the general feeling in the company?

There is a lot of excitement. I think the timing was important. Ironically, the pandemic did us a favour, in the sense that the Expo 2020, our new corporate identity, and the European Tour announcement all came together in the matter of a month. It has given a great deal to shout about and celebrate.

As a company, we’ve had a 13-year relationship with the European Tour. So, probably the new announcement won’t come as a surprise.

If you’ve followed the growth of DP World over the last decade, we were very much a Dubai-based port operator, and hence our sponsorship of the Dubai-based championship. However, as we grew in the last decade, into a 137-location and a 66-country global conglomerate, just having one golf tournament in the year does not meet our requirements. So, the natural evolution was to widen our partnership.

What kind of returns do the chairman and your shareholders expect from this sponsorship?

Our evolution over the last decade and a half has been staggering. From being a port operator, to add ways to being an integrated logistics provider, is a massive transformation.

It’s important to remember that we are moving from being a very deep B2B organisation, a port operator that people think has no social relevance, to a very, very relevant organisation in the B2C environment with digital platforms such as DuBuy.com and others.

We really want to build our brand and the markets that are relevant to us. So the visibility is very important.

Secondly, to use this as a platform to engage with our traditional customers and also some of our new customers in the new areas of logistics supply chain.

What is DP World’s future vision for the DP World Tour Championship?

It’s been written that the importance of DP World Tour Championship is waning over the past few years for some of the top players. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why we wanted to relook at this. I’m sure the players will forgive me for saying this, but money attracts many people. We think that the season-ending tournament totally needs to build greater relevance. We want to create a greater sense of prestige around it.

So, we also want to work with the PGA Tour (partners of European Tour) to ensure that this becomes the centrepiece, if you like, for both tours in the coming years. And that’s one of the things that we’ve talked to both Tours about is for players on both tours to be able to come here.

When someone like Jon Rahm, the world No1 player, does not show up, what is your take? Are you guys as dissatisfied as some of the media thinks you are?

No. Absolutely not. Let me tell you why. First and foremost, Jon is a champion player. He sent us a very long and detailed email outlining why he wasn’t coming. And we appreciate that.

That tells you a lot about Jon as a player, and as a person for that matter, and the respect he has for both the European Tour and for DP World. We look forward to having him back with us next year.

What are your plans with grassroot golf in the UAE?

I’m glad you asked that. We are working with the Emirates Golf Federation (EGF), to really develop young talent that originate from this country, and not just Emirati golfers. We have a program promoting golf in schools. Golf is a great motor-function sport and it is great for children to be able to learn good skills and hand-eye coordination. It is a great social sport as well. It has an enormous benefit both physically and mentally, which we like to promote.

Golf is also a very inclusive sport. So, you saw on Tuesday, some outstanding young physically-challenged talents who, despite severe physical and neurological challenges, have simply overcome them and are enjoying golf. We really want to promote that part of golf here in the UAE.

Do you have any time frame or vision with development of UAE golf? Like, having a UAE player in the field of 2032 Olympics?

That’s 12 years away. That’s a long way away. I’m no expert, but I think, with some of the players that are currently part of the EGF, with a little bit of luck, the right coaching and the right mentality, I think we could see an Emirati winner on the Tour in the next five years. There’s no reason why that can’t happen. All the ingredients are there.

We’d absolutely love to see a player that was born and raised in this country, to be able to win our own tournament. That would be terrific for DP World and for the residents of the UAE.

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