Dubai Desert Classic will showcase the best of Dubai sport: Nelson

The Emirates Golf Club's new manager says the Emirate has demonstrated how a city can benefit from hosting events like the DP World Tour

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Leslie Wilson Jr

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Dean Nelson, the new manager of the Emirates Golf Club. — Supplied photo
Dean Nelson, the new manager of the Emirates Golf Club. — Supplied photo

Published: Sun 14 Jan 2024, 9:22 PM

Sport has been a powerful platform that Dubai has successfully embraced to help rebrand its image and Dean Nelson, the new manager of the Emirates Golf Club, believes that this week’s $9 million Hero Dubai Desert Classic (January 18-21) will showcase all that is great about the thriving Emirate.

Nelson says that sport and golf have made Dubai more familiar to thousands of potential tourists and foreigners around the world and have demonstrated how a city can benefit from hosting events like the pride of the DP World Tour.

“I was here in the nineties for six years, before I left Dubai to travel and work in the hotel industry with hotels and golf and high-end private member sports clubs in Asia for about eleven years,” he told Khaleej Times. “After going back to the UK to do some asset management with golf I got this opportunity to come full circle and return to Dubai at the Emirates Golf Club.

“Having seen a bit more about what goes on in the golfing world you discover that Dubai is a special place and so easy to come back to. Hopefully, I can influence more development where possible.”

In the nineties, Nelson helped build a strong membership and vibe at Nad Al Sheba Golf Club, which was managed in tandem with Nad Al Sheba racecourse, the headquarters of horse racing back then.

Reflecting on the early days and the transformation that the city has undergone over two decades later Nelson says he was hugely impressed by the foresight that the Ruling Family and the government had for golf.

“There were just three golf courses those days, but the increase in golfing venues makes Dubai a more attractive place for people wanting to move here. It’s a destination everyone wants to know about and experience,” he said.

“Everything’s progressed. Not just sports or golf. The infrastructure and the growth in the city has been incredibly substantial.”

Dubai is known for many things including the Dubai World Cup horse race, the Emirates Rugby 7s and the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships but golf events are right up there with the best sporting entertainment that the city has showcased for over three decades.

Recently a study revealed that Emirates Golf Club was one of the most searched golf clubs on social media, attracting close to 30,000 Instagram views and an average monthly search of close to 11,000.

Nelson, who assumed his role at Emirates Golf Club, was not surprised and felt that the iconic facility and its flagship event, the Dubai Desert Classic which runs from January 18-21, is deserving of the respect and accolades it gets around the world.

“I started here in November just when they started the build-up to the Classic,” he said. “The infrastructure this year is the biggest that they’ve ever had and the hospitality around the 18th hole is top-class. The activities for fans and the opportunities for spectators are just incredible.

“On the golfing side, the course is in fantastic condition. It was over-seeded early December and there is a clear definition in the growth of the grass around the course,” Nelson added.

“Everybody concerned with the maintenance aspect has been very patient waiting for the new grasses to come through and the results have been fantastic.

“The course has never looked better and it's going to showcase the Emirates Golf Club and Dubai very well together with the quality of golf on offer with the likes of Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood and many more big names playing here.

“It's going to be a great, exciting week.”

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