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Welcome to Dubai: Where Golfers' Wishes Are Granted

By Erica Stokes, Contributor

DUBAI - Arabian Nights may be filled with mystery and enchantment but Arabian days give golfers a renewed love of the game. Signature holes, incredible desert scenery and lush fairways can turn any traveler into the sultan of swing. Nestled in the subtropical oasis of United Arab Emirates, Dubai offers top-notch golf courses, unique amenities and unparalled hospitality.

While many vacationers come to Dubai, more and more professionals are choosing to plan and attend conferences in this location, because of one main reason: the golf. The contrast of the dry, desert landscape is complimented beautifully by the well-manicured greens that flow through this gulf-side haven. Multiple opportunities exist for those who wish to take aim on Dubai soil. Rod Bogg, managing director of Dubai Golf says, "We have fabulous golfing facilities in Dubai. We have some of the best courses in the world and without doubt some of the best clubhouses."

The Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club beckons golfers with its shoreline scenery and distinctive clubhouse fashioned in the shape of a sail. Situated on Dubai creek, the 18-hole Dubai Creek Golf Course offers a par-72 course that spans over 6,800 acres.

Mirages aren't common here, as there are several lakes to avoid when taking shots. Native vegetation like palm and date trees, further enhance the landscape. Due to the rolling terrain, level land is hard to find, which makes this an interesting playing ground. A 120-vessel marina complete with chandlery and boat yard can tempt golfers to try out their sea legs while the state-of-the-art gymnasium can help keep tourists toned and taut.

Play Where the Pros Play

Home to the internationally televised PGA European Tour Dubai Desert Classic, the Emirates Golf Club attracts pros and fans from across the globe. The par-72 Majlis Championship Course was actually the first grass course in the Persian Gulf area. Spanning more than 7,100 yards, the Majlis, Arabic for "meeting place" gives a par four dogleg, the challenging signature eighth hole that demands a determined drive on this ascending turf.

The fairly recent addition of the Wadi course continues to be welcomed by golfers who want to test their skills. While similar in yardage and surroundings to the Majlis, the Wadi sports more lakes and a definite valley (Arabic meaning of Wadi) after the seventh hole. Taped swing analysis is one of the many self-improvement options available through the on-site Golf Academy at Emirates Golf Club. Practicing can even continue past sundown on the floodlit driving range.

The Abu Dhabi Golf Club by Sheraton

The Abu Dhabi Golf Club by Sheraton hosts two courses, which allow challenging golf for the pros and less intricate grounds for nuevo-golfers. Each of the Peter Harradine-designed courses offers 18 holes of golf in a natural desert setting. The National Course and the Garden Course are dotted with palms, lakes and bunkers. Nighttime is not an obstacle for golfers here as nine holes are floodlit. In addition, the Abu Dhabi hosts 36 holes of putting greens, practice bunkers, the largest driving range in the area at 350 meters and chipping greens. Personalized coaching is also available through the Golf Academy. Conveniently located on premises, the Pro Shop sells a variety of helpful equipment. Fitness facilities, pools, tennis and more recreational amenities are on the property as well.

Designed by Karl Litten, the Nad Al Sheba Club offers more than 6,400 yards on a par-71 course. All 18 holes are floodlit and meander around six lakes. While appearances may lead golfers to underestimate the difficulty of this course, do not be fooled. Deep bunkers, water hazards and holes above lakes can demand the utmost precision in the game. The back portion of the tees are elevated and border a horseracing track that hosts the $6 Million Dubai World Cup horse race.

Guilt Gifts

Dubai, also known as the "city of merchants," is a city of many gifts. The Middle Eastern climate keeps the temperature warm and the sun shining throughout the year. Crime is virtually unheard of and the people are genuine and accommodating. Natural beauty abounds in the aqua-blue water at uncrowded beaches, abundance of palm trees and typical desert areas.

The traditions of yesterday add an old-world charm to the bustling modern-day metropolis. Shoppers can enjoy the duty-free policy as they purchase favorites like Persian rugs, gold and tapestries. Shopping malls as well as gold markets give buyers choices and prices that are worth the trip. Dubai is known for being one of the largest gold retailers in the world.

Superior lodging options abound in Dubai. Rates and availability vary so call hotels directly.

Emirates Tower: (971) 3300000
Crowne Plaza: (971) 3311111
Holiday Inn Bur Dubai: (971) 3366000
Towers Rotana: (971) 3438000
Metropolitan Deira: (971) 2959171
Metropolitan Dubai: (971) 3430000

For more information on golfing

Nad Al Sheba Club: (971) 4 3363666
Abu Dhabi Golf Club by Sheraton: (971) 2 55 88 990
Emirates Golf Club: (971) 4 347 3222
Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club: (971) 4 295 6000

Erica Stokes, Contributor

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