Player Designing Two Courses for New Island City in Abu Dhabi

Gary Player is to design the first of two regulation-length golf courses on Saadiyat Island - a 27-square-kilometer island offshore Abu Dhabi city. The island is being transformed into a vast tourism, culture and residential destination.

The Saadiyat course will be the first in the Arabian Gulf with several beach-front holes. It is also the first in the UAE to be designed by the South African, acknowledged as the most successful international golfer ever. Player has won Masters, three British Opens, two PGA Championships and a U.S. Open title to complete the Grand Slam.

"Gary Player is renowned as much for his dedication to the principles of design excellence as he is for his golfing accomplishments. He is recognized worldwide, as an uncompromising perfectionist who settles for nothing but the best," said HE Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) and of Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), the name behind the transformation of Saadiyat Island.

"We are convinced Gary will bring to this project his impeccable set of values and insistence on quality which have earned him worldwide respect. This course will be a world-class asset for Saadiyat Island and Abu Dhabi and one capable of hosting international-standard tournaments," added Sheikh Sultan, "We were also particularly impressed with the humanitarian work of the Player Foundation which has improved educational resources for underprivileged children across Africa, Asia and the USA."

Player expressed enthusiasm about being a part of the transformation of Saadiyat Island: "I am both honored and delighted to be appointed to design this golf course at Saadiyat Island and look forward to producing a world-class facility that will compliment this world-class destination."

Slated for completion in 2009, the Gary Player Signature course is being built in the Saadiyat Beach district - one of seven zones within Saadiyat Island. According to senior course designer Jeff Lawrence, "The objective is to keep the design of the Beach Course simple and straightforward, yet visually stunning, while concentrating design efforts on the strategic values that will stand the test of time."

The golf facilities will be open to members as well as some hotel guests. An international operator will run the facility.

A second 'ocean-style' golf course will be built in Saadiyat Island. The two courses will augment the course at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club, which is owned by TDIC and is home to the annual European Tour-backed Abu Dhabi Golf Championship to be staged for the third time in January.

"Saadiyat Beach is a dramatic setting for any golf facility with the clubhouse and the course planned to offer sweeping Gulf and beach views," said Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General, ADTA and Managing Director, TDIC. "Our research has shown that golf is a key ingredient in the meetings and business tourism sectors which we anticipate will account for one third of our targeted three million annual tourist arrivals by 2015."

Saadiyat Beach, which is northwest of Saadiyat Island and positioned in a hospitality district, presents special opportunities for hotel and resort developers. "Saadiyat Beach is master-planned to produce a range of five-star resorts flanking nine kilometers of pristine beach, a championship golf course with freehold villas, dedicated sailing club and private beach clubs. The Gary Player course will be a key component of this overall celebrity see-and-be-seen environment," said Lee Tabler, CEO of TDIC.

About Saadiyat Island

Saadiyat Island - which translates from Arabic as Island of Happiness - is the largest single mixed-use development in the Arabian Gulf. The natural island - half the size of Bermuda - lies only 500 meters offshore Abu Dhabi island, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. Saadiyat Island is being developed into a complete visitor and residential destination.

Saadiyat Island is one of the most important developments in Abu Dhabi's history. The island, which has 30 kilometers of water frontage and boasts many natural features, including mangrove forests, is being converted into an international tourism destination to mark a new era in the evolution of Abu Dhabi, the largest of the seven emirates which form the UAE Federation.

Saadiyat Island will be developed in three phases with total completion scheduled for 2018. The master plan includes six individual districts and includes 29 hotels, three marinas with combined berths for around 1,000 boats, museums and cultural centers, two golf courses, civic and leisure facilities, sea-view apartments and elite villas.

Saadiyat Island is expected to be home to a community of more than 150,000 people. It will be linked to the main Abu Dhabi island and the Abu Dhabi mainland via two, 10-lane freeways, making the destination easily accessible to Abu Dhabi International Airport, a 25-kilometer drive away.

Saadiyat Island is being developed by the Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), an independent public joint stock company of which Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority is the sole shareholder. TDIC's strategy is to dispose of development land on the island to private investors, which will develop their sites in accordance with a master plan and supporting planning regulations and design guidelines.