Golf's Not Green in Middle East

With the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship (European Tour), Dubai Desert Classic (1st European Tour event held in the middle East), Dubai Ladies Masters (Ladies European Tour), and the first Dubai World Championship (European Tour) coming up in November of this year, it's no wonder there's a golf boom in the Arab states. According to the Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED), the increase of development (from 16 golf courses in 22 Arab states to 40 courses within the next few years) is an unsustainable use of resources.

From the report:

"A particularly striking example of the conflict that exists between rapid economic development and scarce water sources is the recent boom in the construction of golf courses in certain parts of the region. In fact, most of the current and planned golf courses are in Egypt and the Gulf region, particularly the United Arab Emirates, where water sources are already low, even by regional standards. Expansion of water-intensive projects like grass golf courses cannot go on unchecked, especially with meagre investments to develop sustainable desalination technologies. There are plans to increase the sixteen golf courses operating in the GCC countries now to 40 in the near future. In most cases, golf courses in the region are irrigated with desalinated sea water, treated effluent or a combination of the two. A 2007 report released by the international consultants KPMG estimated the use of water for each golf course in the region at an average of 1.16 million cubic metres per year, reaching 1.3 million cubic meters in Dubai, enough to cover the water consumption of 15,000 inhabitants. Using such an amount of water on leisure projects in an arid desert throws up questions about sustainability and how could this infringe on the water needs of the local community. This is not at all a call to impede development, but rather to allocate more resources towards inventing innovative environmentally-friendly desalination methods and reliable saline agriculture techniques, suitable for the arid desert environment".

The European Tour is an obvious influence on this rise of development and has "pledged ongoing support for the Golf Environment Organisation" (GEO) which is currently creating New Golf Course Development Guidelines.

I hope the European Tour considers these guidelines when reviewing new venues for European Tour Championships, especially in areas with such serious environmental concerns such as the Arab states.

The European Tour has stepped up action on European soil already with the commitment to make the Ryder Cup "environmentally sustainable" in 2010.

Here's a review of the report by The National.