Birdies and Bubbles

As we have breakfast overlooking the Arabian Gulf, we wonder what will be on the programme for today. It’s not our first time in Abu Dhabi, and we know from experience that there are always new things to discover in this rapidly growing metropolis. If your idea of Abu Dhabi is desert and a couple of lost camels, think again!

Yesterday we tested the new Formula 1 racetrack; the day before we visited the impressive Sheikh Zayed Mosque. What shall we do today? A safari tour with dinner in the dunes? Or a visit to the Gold Souk with a stroll down the Corniche?

“I have a better idea,” says Nareena, who just joined us for breakfast. “The Abu Dhabi PGA Golf Championship is on! We should go and watch the game and hang out at the golf club!” Nareena works for the Emirates Palace, one of the tournament sponsors. Through her we can get easy access to the tournament and even get into the VIP area.

An hour later we’re on our way to the golf club on the other side of town, speeding along in a sleek Maybach limousine. Arriving in a Maybach is our ticket in – no one even asks to see our entry passes. “Ahlan wa sahlan, welcome to the Abu Dhabi PGA Golf Championship,” is all that the guards at the door say with a polite bow.

We cross the falcon-shaped clubhouse and make our way to the VIP lodges from where we have a great view of hole number 9. It’s a par-five, which means that it takes the players on average five strokes to get the ball from the tee into the put. We head out to watch the players and admire their skill: incredible swings, awesome approaches, amazing puts and lots of birdies. It all looks so easy from a distance…

At the clubhouse, we mingle with a cosmopolitan crowd who are sipping champagne and sampling the local cuisine. This is clearly not only about golf; networking is just as important at this event. The guests are talking to old acquaintances and business relations, making new contacts and expanding their already vast international network. The saying “It’s not what you know, but who you know” is certainly valid in Abu Dhabi.

As we return to the clubhouse after our stroll on the field, Nareena rushes up to us with an air of excitement. “Did you see it?” she asks. “Did you see the hole-in- one?” She explains that as a sponsor, the Emirates Palace has created a special prize for every hole-in-one. “We just gave away a lifetime of one-week-a-year stays in a Diamond room at the Emirates Palace!”

As the last flights are coming in, we head to the main clubhouse area and I can’t help but wonder if the final score would be in favour of the birdies or the bubbles…

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