By David Ingham
Early 2004 is the opening date for the Robert Trent Jones golf course, the first part of the $4 billion Dubai Festival City project.
The Robert Trent Jones golf course, part of the massive Dubai Festival City development, is on course for an early 2004 opening. The $150 million course will be a major focal point of the $4 billion ‘City Within a City’ being built along a 3.8 kilometre strip of Dubai Creek.“Robert Trent Jones II has delivered a design which is environmentally responsible and which will be challenging for the seasoned golfer and a memorable experience for the recreational player,” says Lee Tabler, CEO, Dubai Festival City. “The course will be a significant addition to Dubai’s growing international status as a premier golfing destination.”Dubai Festival City is promising golfers a ‘championship standard’ 18 hole, 7250 yard, par 72 course that will be very different from those already in Dubai. With its water features and lush fauna, it is also intended to be aesthetically pleasing.“We used the concept of a fertile garden in an expansive desert where the presence of water brings serenity,” explains Robert Trent Jones Jr, chairman of Robert Trent Jones II LLC. “The course has great variety, in terms of the length of the holes, their orientation, as well as teething angles. Multiple tees at every hole provide the opportunity for players of various skills levels to test their game.”The course has also been designed to be environmentally friendly. It will utilise special ‘paspalum’ grasses that can tolerate a high saline level, allowing it to be irrigated with a combination of seawater and reclaimed water. The one million litres of water that it will require per day for irrigation is one third less than would be required with normal grasses, according to Dubai Festival City.The Robert Trent Jones golf course forms part of ‘Phase One’ of the Festival City development. Phase One, scheduled for completion in 2006, has a project budget of $1.5 billion and has three main components: the golf course and surrounding residential units; the mixed use ‘City Core’ located on the banks of the creek; and a dedicated car showroom area.Even by Dubai’s current standards, Dubai Festival City is a massive undertaking, both in terms of ambition and size. Over a total period of twelve years and in a series of distinct phases, Dubai Festival City will grow to cover a planned 1600 acres and house up to 21,000 residential units. The mixed use development will incorporate 15 ‘districts’ that will contain a mixture of residential, office and retail space. “The scope and mix of this project cannot be found elsewhere in the world,” says Omar Al Futtaim, chief executive of Al Futtaim Group, the owner and developer of Dubai Festival City. “It is an all inclusive destination, which, when complete, will see upwards of 75,000 people living and working within it.”