Golfing to prove nothing is impossible in the UAE

The sport and the country have developed in tandem through the last three decades to chart out a distinct identity on the globe

By Ismail Sharif

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Published: Thu 2 Dec 2021, 10:38 PM

My tryst with golf was more of a personal challenge and a tribute to the deep-seated Emirati pride. In retrospect, I feel vindicated about what I did. I have developed a lasting passion about the game, which I was clueless about till this humiliating incident fired me up.

A Japanese friend of mine had taken me around the Dubai Golf Club — the UAE’s first grass course that was set up in 1988 and was only open to members those days — where a rude British lady all but showed me the door. Emiratis, usually, do not like to visit places where there are barriers.

The club happened to be one such place. However, the incident, which had occurred in end-1992, made me take to the game with renewed vigour and passion. I started hitting 2,000 balls a day and improved my handicap in weeks from 28 to 12.

At 33, I, a married man with six children, wanted to prove that nothing is impossible in our great country. If I can do it, so can you. This has been the growing mantra of our young nation, where our Founding Father the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, was a genius engineer.

The wise and visionary leaders ensured that the country has a strong foundation, which was subsequently taken forward by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the UAE, the Ruler of Abu Dhabi, and the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces; His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. They have instilled self-belief among us and taken a giant leap of faith towards a rosy future.

Since the foundation of the country in 1971, the UAE has emerged as a model Arab state as we occupy a prominent place in the global high table.

Similar to my awful experience of being shown the door for no fault of mine and an insult to my Japanese friend, who was the host, the UAE’s rise as a global power shows that the world needs to sit up and take note of how we are reaping the benefits of the wise vision of our Founding Fathers. In many ways, golf’s emergence in our country is directly linked to our breathtaking progress as a nation.

The sport and the country have developed in tandem through the last three decades to chart out a distinct identity on the globe. I’m happy, proud and delighted to be a part of this awesome journey.

My life story in many ways reflects the success of this young nation, whose aspirations are matched by good deeds for the world to appreciate and applaud.

(The author is the Managing Director of Jumeirah Golf Estates)

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