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Sat 14 Mar 2009 04:00 AM

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“No plans to go on hold”

The Tiger Woods Dubai will include the world's first 7800 yard, par 72, 18-hole championship Al Ruwaya golf course designed by top seed Tiger Woods. Conrad Egbert talks to project director Abdulla Al Gurg about what lies ahead in these pressing times.

The Tiger Woods Dubai will include the world's first 7800 yard, par 72, 18-hole championship Al Ruwaya golf course designed by top seed Tiger Woods. Conrad Egbert talks to project director Abdulla Al Gurg about what lies ahead in these pressing times.

Is the project scheduled to be put on hold?

The Tiger Woods Dubai has no plans to put the project on hold in any capacity. Whilst we are not immune to the current economic situation, we remain committed to the long term success of the project, which includes delivering the development to the highest world-class standard.

The current economic environment has led us to prioritise the golfing components; this includes the golf course, club house and academy.

Having said that, the current economic environment has led us to prioritise the golfing components of the development; this includes the golf course, club house and academy. This is a more phased approach then was previously taken and in turn has impacted on how infrastructure is implemented and over what time frame.

What will the new completion date be?

At this point, we do not have a new completion date to announce. We remain committed to the project, and the development will move ahead towards completion, on a program timeline meeting current market demands. Any decisions on a change in timeline will be communicated when they are finalised. Our first priority is to ensure that the quality of the project is maintained and the vision for the development is achieved.

How is finance expected to be arranged to keep the project going?

The Tiger Woods Dubai receives the full support of our parent companies Tatweer and Dubai Holding.  This includes financial support and arrangements for financing.  Beyond that I cannot comment on specific means of financing for the project.

How long do you think the slowdown will last?

I think you're asking me to look into a crystal ball, but what I can say is that Dubai has a track record for jumping back on its feet. The European and US markets have shown great signs of early success and re-energising economies. Dubai's economy is directly linked to that and is encapsulated by it. We have to grab the opportunity of being a new born economy and the flexibility of being able to apply new policies and procedures and recover at a better pace.

Will The Tiger Woods Dubai be able to achieve its goals?

The Tiger Woods Dubai is set to become the most sought after destination worldwide and we're well on our way to achieving this.

The biggest indication of the slowdown is the reduction in traffic. Are you concerned about the future?

Actually I enjoy that I can go anywhere without having to worry about countless hours of commuting. To be very honest, I'm even shocked at the excellent performance of the retail industry. I don't know about the micro aspects of the industry, but from a consumer's perspective if you walk into any shop at any mall, there are people shopping everywhere. The purchasing power is still available in Dubai and that is very encouraging.

Are some contractors stopping work on developments due to non payment?

Of course. They'd have to stop work. If I'm not getting paid I'd probably stop work too. It's a natural human instinct.

Is this true for your development as well and would such issues affect you in the future?

No. And it wouldn't affect us and I'll tell you why - the situation at the moment enables the stronger contractors to be able to work here, rather than the ones who are vulnerable to the market situations.

It's unfortunate that, initially, the market created a platform for anybody to be able to enter the construction industry and set up shop.

Now I think we're on a much more solid standing with much more credibility.

People who are not in it for the long term are the ones who will not survive. What do you think is going to happen to the rents?

From a general perspective everything needs to be consolidated.

I think the leasing sector would probably have to install corrective measures. But the good thing is that The Tiger Woods Dubai has no relation to the leasing sector and we're more focused on real estate sales.

Is it true that property on The Tiger Woods Dubai will be sold by invitation only?

We have to screen individuals to ensure that the profile of the buyers and owners of the The Tiger Woods Dubai are of the caliber we want to have living on the course.

When you say "caliber" what do you mean?

When I say caliber I mean the mindset, the background, the social sophistication of actually being able to live up to the standards we're trying to create here at The Tiger Woods Dubai. We follow three values - excellence, quality and exclusivity - and if they fit into these, we feel obliged to those kinds of individuals.

So what's been completed on the project?

We've completed the bulk works. We've moved 25 million m³ of sand, which is quite an impressive number which stipulates an elevation of 32m from the highest to the lowest point.

We've excavated around 660,000m² of lakes and started laying liners and constructing the lakes. It's a desert so we have a few stages before we can make a lake. There are five lakes, two are completed.

We've also reached the highest point in Dubai which is 78m above sea level.

Curriculum VitaeAl Gurg manages all operational, business, and strategic aspects of the project, while overseeing the development of its private residential golf community, including Al Ruwaya golf course.

Prior to joining The Tiger Woods Dubai, Al Gurg held two key positions. As Chapter development manager for Young Arab Leaders (Yal), he was in charge of setting up 11 Arab chapters throughout the Mena region for Yal.

He also played a key role in Tatweer, managing the CEO Monitoring Unit from January-December 2006.

Since August 2007, Al Gurg has been a board member of Dubailand Theme Park City.

Al Gurg holds a Master's certificate in Management Concepts from Regis University, Denver, Colorado. He earned his bachelor's degree in Marketing and Management from the American University of Sharjah, after graduating from the Dubai National School.

In addition, Al Gurg has obtained certificates in Executive Education in ‘Leadership Development', from the Columbia Business School, and Executive Education in ‘Negotiation & Decision-Making, Changing the Game', from the Harvard Business School.

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