UAE golf guru aims to get more Emirati women on the fairways

Youth development chief sets out plans to encourage more female participation in traditionally male-dominated sport

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A UAE golf chief is on a mission to prove the fairways are for all after launching a major recruitment drive to encourage more Emirati women to take up the sport.

Aliya Al Qubaisi, head of the Emirates Golf Federation's junior development programme, is aiming to debunk myths about the game being out of bounds to all but affluent men.

The Emirates is already on the golfing map thanks to its array of world-class courses and tournaments, but Ms Al Qusabi is eager to develop home-grown players to grace the greens.

She has been spurred on by the fact 150 Emirati children have already registered for the development programme this year, 40 of them girls.

It is time for us to have a large golf team representing the UAE
Aliya Al Qubaisi, head of the Emirates Golf Federation's junior programme

“It is time for us to have a large golf team representing the UAE,” Ms Al Qubaisi said.

“We want to make sure that all the age gaps are filled and we are currently focusing on women particularly.

“We would like them to come and experience the sport and hopefully play themselves and encourage their children to play.”

Female participation is enjoying a steady upswing across the globe, with the women's professional tour having a total prize fund of more than $90 million this year.

In February, it was announced that dozens of hopefuls were vying to be part of Saudi Arabia's first women's national team.

Reem Al Hosani, 18, has been playing golf for four years and has represented her country at international events in Ireland and Morocco.

She is eager for more young women to take to the tee in the years ahead.

“In the UAE, golf remains to be a western game — it is not a local game,” the biomedical engineering university student said.

“It is also considered to be a sport for men.

“Women think no women play golf, so we should change that.”

Ms Al Qubaisi said there is no cause for female players to be put off by golfing attire, as they are free to wear clothing they feel comfortable in.

She said players can wear modest dress, with headscarves and long trousers under loose skirts if they wish.

Ms Al Qubaisi is eager for Emiratis — and women and girls in particular — to forget what they think they know about the game and give it a try.

“We used to have only expats play this sport and gradually we are seeing more Emiratis but reaching out to women particularly in the Northern Emirates and Western Region has been a challenge,” she said.

“We would just like them to come and give it a try. It is a life changing experience both physically and holistically.”

Updated: October 02, 2022, 3:32 AM