Published October 13th, 2005 - 07:51 GMT

Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) today announced that the inaugural Abu Dhabi Golf Championship will be part of the European Tour in 2006.  With prize money of US$ 2 million on offer, the Abu Dhabi Golf Club National Course will host top players Colin Montgomerie, Thomas Bjorn and Sergio Garcia between 19 – 22 January 2006.

Commenting on the inaugural Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, H.H. Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, said, “The inaugural Abu Dhabi Golf Championship will be a very prestigious international sporting event, ever staged in Abu Dhabi, heralding a new era in the Emirate’s development as a world-class sporting venue.”

The Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority has involved IMG, the world’s premier sports and lifestyle management and marketing firm, to manage and stage the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.

The Abu Dhabi Golf Championship will be held as a 72 hole stroke play event with 4 rounds being played over 4 days and a cut being made after 36 holes to the Top-65 and ties. A maximum of 120 players will participate in the event, made up of 112 players from the European Tour and 8 invites. Abu Dhabi is one of 49 tournaments on the 2006 European Tour Schedule that will be held in 24 countries.

Global Golfing Spotlight Falls on Abu Dhabi
The Championship will be broadcast to more than 300 million households across 60 countries with up to 700 hours of live coverage. Channels set to broadcast the tournament include Premiere Sports (Germany), The Golf Channel (USA), Viasat (Sweden), Sky Sports (UK) and Showtime (UAE).

The announcement reinforces the United Arab Emirates as a world-class golfing destination.  The Capital city, Abu Dhabi, has embarked on a fast track to tourism development with recent developments such as establishment of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, Etihad Airways and the prestigious Emirates Palace Hotel.

Mr. Mubarak Hamad Al Muhairi, Director General of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, comments, “This prestigious event represents an important milestone in the development of Abu Dhabi. We are thrilled that some of the world’s best players will experience the Abu Dhabi National course and that the worldwide audience will see our facilities. We are delighted to have IMG as our partners in the organisation of the Championship and we believe that the international publicity that the Championship will generate will be a vital first step in establishing Abu Dhabi as a top class international golfing resort.”

Commenting on the appointment, Bob Kain, IMG President, said, "We are delighted and excited to be working with the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority in developing and staging the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.  IMG has unique and unparalleled experience, not only in the management of players, but in the staging and marketing of international golf tournaments, and brings a wealth of experience, gained in running major golf events over the past 40 years in all corners of the world.  We look forward to working with the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority to set new standards of event presentation and excellence."

George O’Grady, Executive Director of the European Tour, said, “Each season on the European Tour brings a keen sense of expectation and anticipation of the challenges which lay ahead, especially when the year features a new and exciting destination. Abu Dhabi is the 36th country the European Tour has visited and the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship will help get the 2006 European Tour International schedule off to a flying start.”

A Challenging Course for the World’s Best Players
The event will also underline Abu Dhabi Government’s commitment to developing and diversifying the Emirate’s tourism infrastructure in coming years. IMG and the European Tour have identified and recommended a number of modifications to the Abu Dhabi Golf Club's National Course, originally designed by the eminent Swiss architect Peter Harradine.  These are being put in place to ensure that the course provides a stiff test and searching examination for the world's leading golfers. Mike Clarke, the Abu Dhabi Golf Club's Course Superintendent is overseeing all the modifications and is already into a maintenance programme designed to ensure that the golf course is in peak condition for the inaugural tournament in January.

Due to its convenient location the UAE has been able to act as a connecting link between Europe and the Indian subcontinent, the Far East and Africa. A thoroughly modern infrastructure of air and sea ports, highways, telecommunications systems, five-star hotels, restaurants and entertainment complexes has turned the Emirate into an active tourist centre. Traditional Arab hospitality, inviting weather, well established infrastructure and crime-free environment have also contributed in recent years to creating an ideal atmosphere for the development of business and leisure tourism.

About Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA)
Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), established by Ruler’s Decree in September 2004, is a statutory body with wide ranging responsibilities for building the Emirate’s tourism industry. Its Chairman is HH Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan. Director General is HE Mubarak Al Muhairi.

The ADTA’s mandate covers three main areas: destination marketing, infrastructure and product development and regulation, and, licensing and classification. While the ADTA assumes a leadership role in the international promotion of Abu Dhabi, it also represents the interests of, and coordinates with, a wide range of stakeholders – including the hotels, Etihad and other airlines serving Abu Dhabi, the destination management companies, exhibition and conference venues, golf courses, the retail trade, Government ministries and departments etc.

About IMG

IMG was founded by Mark H. McCormack in the early 1960s. The company is the world’s premier sports and lifestyle management and marketing firm, with an international staff of approximately 2,200 people in over 60 offices in more than 25 countries. TWI, IMG’s television division, is the largest independent distributor and producer of televised sports, managing a library of more than 150,000 hours. TWI annually produces and distributes 6,500 hours of original programming to more than 200 countries covering 200+ sports, as well as being a global leader in digital sports and entertainment. IMG is also commercially involved in an average of 11 major sports and cultural events around the world every day; IMG Consulting works with many of the world’s largest corporations on marketing and sponsorship programmes; IMG’s stadium and arena group works with leagues and franchises worldwide; IMG is the world’s largest non-character licensing firm, and is a leading literary agency and book packager. In addition, IMG Models is the world’s number one international model management firm, IMG owns and operates top sports and fitness academies, and IMG Artists is the top global performing arts management firm.

IMG’s experience in golf and golf tournaments is unique. In addition to managing the top two man players in the world and the top woman player, IMG has been staging golf events for forty years and currently runs over twenty professional golf tournaments in ten different countries.

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