‘I belong here’: Moroccan-turned-UAE citizen grabs gold in golf, lives dream in Emirates

With the support of the EGF she has found the path to success while fuelling her ambition of turning pro

By Leslie Wilson Jr.

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Intissar says the UAE inspires improvement. Photo Intissar Rich
Intissar says the UAE inspires improvement. Photo Intissar Rich

Published: Tue 2 Jan 2024, 10:18 PM

Last updated: Sat 6 Jan 2024, 8:57 PM

Every night she goes to bed with the same dream and wakes up each new day filled with the determination to make it a reality.

Last month in Oman, Intissar Rich took a significant step towards her ultimate goal of turning professional when she won the individual gold medal while leading the UAE Ladies team to victory at the GCC Golf Championships.

The rush of being surrounded and congratulated by teammates, the adrenaline of competition still surging through her body was something new to her. But sport has a way of pulling emotions out of people, good or bad. This time it was more of the former as Intissar proudly held the UAE and its Pan-Arab colours of red, green, white, and black, high above her head.

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It was her first major success for her adopted country and she was overwhelmed with tears of joy. It being just over a year since Intissar became a UAE passport holder after leaving her country of birth, Morocco.

“It felt amazing to win the gold for the UAE,” she told Khaleej Times. “This is my new home, my new world. I felt so happy and proud. It’s hard to describe it.

“I know I belong here in the Emirates.”

Intissar after winning at the GCC Gold Championships in Oman. - Photo Intisssar
Intissar after winning at the GCC Gold Championships in Oman. - Photo Intisssar

Intissar, who plays off a plus three handicap, is focused on turning pro and one day playing on the LPGA Tour. It’s her dream and she is serious about making it happen. Soon.

“Obviously I still need to improve a lot, but I’m prepared to put in the hard work,” she said. “The golf courses and facilities in the UAE are amazing and of such a high standard. It inspires improvement.

“Right now I practice almost every day, mostly at The Els Club, Dubai with the Claude Harmon Performance golf team. This year I aim to play in the LET Tour school and then take it from there.”

It seems a long time and a world of difference since a 12-year-old Intissar first picked up a golf club in her native Tangiers, where she lived close to a golf course.

Intissar is focused on improving her game. - Photo Intissar
Intissar is focused on improving her game. - Photo Intissar

“When I was young I could never have afforded to play golf,” she said. “But one day the golf club invited everyone living close by to come and play.

“My family were not too happy that I wanted to go, but my brother took me and I instantly liked it. That’s how it all started.

“Then in 2022 I won the All Africa Challenge Trophy, which was a big thing for me.

“The turning point came when General Abdullah Alhashmi (Emirates Golf Federation Vice-Chairman) saw me hitting balls and invited me to visit the UAE to play golf,” Intissar added.

“Before I knew it I was offered a UAE passport.”

Intissar was quick to point out that this pivotal period would change her life forever.

Intissar says her game has improved since moving to the UAE. - Photo Intissar
Intissar says her game has improved since moving to the UAE. - Photo Intissar

“It was amazing. I had the opportunity to live the golf life that I always dreamt of,” she said. “I was well taken care of and allowed to concentrate on my game, which I did.”

In the one year that she has lived in the UAE Intissar has made new friends and absorbed the Emirati culture, and dream.

Now it is time to chase her own personal dream of making it to the top tier in women’s golf. And she believes she is close to making it happen.

“I’m ready,” she said.

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