Sustainability on the Arabian Gulf shores

Sustainability on the Arabian Gulf shores

Saadiyat Beach Golf Club celebrates environmental milestones that landed a nomination for World’s Best Eco-Friendly Golf Facility.

The first beachfront course on the Arabian Gulf, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club is among the facilities nominated for the World’s Best Eco-Friendly Golf Facility at the 2021 World Golf Awards. The winner will be announced later this year.

Sustainability and environmental best practices have been at the forefront of Saadiyat Beach Golf Club’s strategy since opening, embracing their stewardship responsibility on the land. The club provides a thriving sanctuary for more than 160 bird species, more than 250 mountain gazelles and a rejuvenation of native plants.

The team has also been supporting the efforts of Saadiyat Island’s Hawksbill Turtle Conservation Program, which has allowed hawksbill sea turtles to continue to nest on the island’s sweeping beachfront. Master developer Tourism Development and Investment Company began its Hawksbill Turtle Conservation Program — the only one of its kind in the Arabian Gulf — in early 2010. The nearly-six-mile-long Saadiyat Beach is now home to several hawksbill turtle nests each year, with each nest containing around 90 to 100 eggs.

Shortly after achieving Audubon Certification in 2020, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club made impressive strides in environmental practices by converting to 100 percent treated effluent irrigation water. The club is approximately 346 acres, with 296 of those acres irrigated through an automatic system. The conversion of the irrigation water source is a major positive for suitability on the island. Producing year-round championship golf course conditions in Abu Dhabi’s climate is challenging and the dramatic change in water quality has required some adaptation. Utilizing the resources within Troon International, which manages the club, the agronomy team underwent several changes within the maintenance program. The team also implemented a turf species change, which has better capabilities to survive and produce consistent turf surfaces to utilize the new irrigation water source.

Within the 160 bird species spotted at Saadiyat Beach, there was one extremely rare bird sighting: a juvenile Steppe Whimbrel, which caused worldwide excitement and showcased Saadiyat Island to the wildlife community. The discovery of a Steppe Whimbrel in Abu Dhabi confirms that the migration route of the sub-species passes through the Arabian Peninsula region. The sub-species was declared extinct in 1995 and that sighting marked the first time anywhere in the world that a juvenile Steppe Whimbrel had been seen in field.

All the Troon-managed facilities in Abu Dhabi host regular visits from local bird enthusiasts, with all bird species recorded, identified and counted with exact numbers and dates submitted to and available from the UAE Bird Database, which is linked to the Global Bird Database.

“With the commitment from Aldar & Troon, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club continues to evolve its sustainability practices throughout the entire facility,” said Francisco de Lancastre David, cluster general manager at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club and Yas Links Abu Dhabi. “With the completion of the Audubon certification, a push for a plastic-free environment and changing the irrigation to fully recycle treated water and the reconversion of all fairways to Pure Dynasty Paspalum turf to accommodate for a more sustainable sanctuary, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club continues in its mission to lead the way in the Middle East and become globally recognized as the most sustainable golf course.”

The course was designed by Gary Player and has hosted the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open, the first Ladies European Tour event in Abu Dhabi, since 2016.