Golf’s New Hotspots: Dubai & the Middle East

Golf courses in the United Arab Emirates are busier and more profitable than those in established European golfing nations such as the U.K., Ireland, Spain and Portugal. According to the inaugural KPMG Golf Benchmark Survey Summary Report, average revenues at golf courses in Dubai and the UAE are four times greater than those in Portugal, the highest performing country in Europe.

While the UAE has just 13 golf courses, growing demand from increasing numbers of expatriates and tourists, particularly in Dubai, is fueling rapid growth; at least 10 new courses are now in planning or under construction.

The Golf Benchmark Survey also reveals that the number of golf courses and players in Eastern Europe has tripled since 2000, with 68 courses and 23,000 affiliated golfers in the Czech Republic alone.

In Northern Europe, lower prices have boosted participation rates. More than 6% of the total population in Sweden and 5% in Iceland now play golf, resulting in a regional participation rate five times greater than the rest of Europe.

Meanwhile, Spain is the most expensive country to be a member of a golf club, with average annual dues of just under 3,000 Euros.

But the Middle East is proving to be golf’s international hot spot, with courses in the region averaging 45,000 rounds per year, compared to the 26,000 rounds played on courses in Great Britain and Ireland. Also, profitability levels (an average of 45% of the gross operating profit) are far beyond other courses in the seven regions surveyed.

Of this change, Andrea Sartori, head of KPMG’s Travel Leisure and Tourism Practice and initiator of the Golf Benchmark Survey, commented: “Golf development in the Middle East, especially in Dubai, has received significant media exposure in recent years. However, the results of our survey demonstrate that the hype has been justified and that the region is fast becoming a major destination for golf.

“There are now more than 7,000 golf courses and 4.2 million registered golfers across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. With increased life expectancy, improved and cheaper air transport, health and fitness awareness as well as growth in disposable income and media coverage in emerging economies, golf is expected to further develop both in terms of demand and supply.

“The Golf Benchmark Survey provides essential performance indicators for golf course owners, operators and financiers, enabling them to compare their own business against high, average and low performers in their geographical market. What’s more, I believe the benchmark indicators we have introduced will become standard measures in the international golf business.”

KPMG’s inaugural Golf Benchmark Survey – based on data supplied by more than 800 golf courses in 27 countries – consists of seven Regional Reports plus a Summary Report (all reports can be downloaded free of charge from The seven regions surveyed include Northern Europe, Great Britain and Ireland, Western Europe, Central Europe, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and South Africa.