ABU DHABI // The UAE now boasts two Ladies European Tour events after the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open was confirmed for Abu Dhabi later this year.
The tournament, the first annual women’s professional event to be held in the capital, was announced Wednesday at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club and will take place at the Gary Player-designed course from November 2 to November 5.
The Emirates already host the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters, traditionally the season finale on the Ladies European Tour (LET), which typically runs in December. The Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open will fall three stops on the schedule before its Dubai counterpart, with its position on the calendar sure to attract the most prominent stars on the women’s European circuit.
Abu Dhabi has long been linked with staging a high-ranking women’s professional golf event and adds to the UAE’s expanding golf portfolio. With the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open confirmed, the Emirates now hosts five major events, including the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and the season-concluding DP World Tour Championship.
Last week, it was announced that Sharjah will stage its first international golf event, the European Tour’s Sharjah Senior Golf Masters, from March next year.
The Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open is organised by the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy (FBMA) and runs in cooperation with Abu Dhabi Sports Council. It offers a prize fund of $550,000 (Dh2 million), with the field to comprise 126 players.
Speaking at its launch, Ivan Khodabakhsh, CEO of the LET, said: “We’re thrilled to be coming to Abu Dhabi in 2016. Abu Dhabi’s world-class portfolio of sporting events made it an obvious destination to bring something a little different, in the shape of our Ladies European Tour product.
“We can assure our stakeholders that the tournament will showcase the venue and destination to a worldwide audience, while we’re equally excited by all the important social and cause-related activities we can support in partnership with FBMA.”
Caroline Martens, one of the LET’s rising stars, was at Wednesday’s introductory media briefing and come November will be hoping to compete for the tour’s newest title. The Norwegian, 19, finished 57th in the Order of Merit last season, with her best result a tied-14th at the Deloitte Ladies Open. She came home 31st in December’s Dubai Ladies Masters.
Martens said she is looking forward to testing her talent at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club later this season.
“We’ve been wanting to play a tournament in Abu Dhabi for some time,” she said. “The golf course will be one of the best we play all season and I know my fellow professionals will love the experience offered to all visitors. We already take the advantage of visiting Abu Dhabi whenever we can for the perfect climate and training facilities. Now, to have a tournament title to play for as well, is so exciting and I can’t wait for November.”
The event is held under the patronage of Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, president of the General Women’s Union, CEO of the Family Development Foundation and president of the Higher Council for Motherhood and Childhood.
Aref Al Awani, general secretary at Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said: “I’d like to thank Her Highness, FBMA and the LET for their commitment to bring top-flight ladies professional golf to Abu Dhabi. The UAE leads the way in the advancement of the crucial role that women play in our society and this event will be a celebration of that. We can’t wait to bring another world-class event to Abu Dhabi.” […]