For golfers hoping to get back on the course this fall and winter, Abu Dhabi is one of the safest destinations in the world to travel to.
The United Arab Emirates has led one of the most effective responses to the Covid-19 global pandemic, and its capital city is well prepared to resume its role as one of the world’s leading golf destinations.
This will be music to the ears of golf enthusiasts around the world looking to travel from September onwards, when Abu Dhabi enjoys almost guaranteed sunshine and temperatures around 25°C; perfect conditions to play golf. Flying to Abu Dhabi is dependent, of course, on whether all international flights to the city are open by September.
The UAE has reported 28,704 Covid-19 cases, according to the latest figures from John Hopkins University. With a population of 9.8 million, that represents 2,906 cases per million people. Compared to other leading golf destinations, Spain has reported 6,040 cases per million people, USA 5,039, Ireland 4,984, UK 3,790, and Portugal 2,987.
The UAE has reported 244 deaths, which equates to 25 deaths per one million people. In comparison, Spain has reported 613 deaths per million people, the UK 541, France 434, Ireland 325, USA 298, Portugal 128, and Turkey 51.
So far, 1,600,923 tests for Covid-19 have been carried out in the UAE, which represents 162,076 tests per million people. Only the Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Iceland and Bahrain have recorded a higher test rate. In comparison, Spain has completed 76,071 tests per million people, Portugal 67,620, Ireland 59,942, UK 49,352, USA 43,404, Turkey 21,458, and France 21,218.
Furthermore, the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) – responsible for managing government-owned healthcare facilities in Abu Dhabi – announced on May 24 it is set to increase its Covid-19 testing capacity by 7,000 per day. This means it will have a total capacity of more than 115,000 tests per week, which represents a 72 per cent increase.
Golf is one of the safest sports to play during the pandemic due to wide-open spaces, using your own equipment and social distancing rules being easier to follow than in other sports. Despite this, golf clubs in most other nations are still closed due to lockdown measures.
Abu Dhabi has been one of the first major cities in the world to reopen its golf venues. On April 7, its three world-class golf courses, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club and Yas Links Abu Dhabi, were reopened for members after receiving approval from local health authorities and ownership, Troon Golf, the global leader in golf course management which manages the day-to-day operations of all three clubs.
The approval was given as long as strict guidelines were followed at each club. The guidelines include: one golfer per buggy, maximum of three golfers playing together, all golf holes adjusted so golfers can retrieve their ball without touching the flag, players must bring their own food and soft drinks, and no cash payments. Social distancing will be followed at all times and players must take individual temperature checks in the form of thermal scans upon entry to each club.
Francisco De Lancastre David, who was appointed by Troon Golf as the Cluster General Manager of Abu Dhabi‘s three championship golf courses, told All Square: “We have implemented many safety measures to protect our colleagues, members and guests visiting our clubs in Abu Dhabi to ensure we are able to welcome everyone to our properties safely.”
While many other country’s national airlines are struggling financially due to the pandemic, the UAE‘s national airline, Etihad Airways, is government-owned and will resume normal operations once the Covid-19 pandemic has sufficiently passed.
The airline has also put additional cleaning measures in place both onboard and on the ground. Its ground-handling teams follow strict cleaning procedures to disinfect aircraft after every flight, and all utensils and surfaces are sterilised. Aircraft are also fitted with High-Efficiency Particle Filters (HEPA), which renew the entire cabin’s air every two to four minutes. Etihad says these air filtration systems eliminate more than 99.8 percent of all airborne microbes, including dust, germs and pathogens.
CNN Travel recently reported that Etihad Airways is one of the world’s safest airlines to travel with. They referred to an airline safety review undertaken by AirlineRatings.com, an airline safety and product review website which monitors 405 airlines around the world and produces an annual list of the ones deemed safest. Etihad Airways was fourth highest on the list.
Abu Dhabi’s fantastic luxury hotels are a major draw for international travellers. The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi has shared detailed guidelines with them in preparation for granting approvals to reopen all their facilities. The hotels can obtain approval by completing all the measures outlined in the guidelines.
The guidelines outline ‘readiness assurance requirements’ that include social distancing rules, crowd-control measures and rules for returning employees in order to resume trading safely. Additional rules include the sterilisation of the facilities on a regular basis, the provision of hand sanitisers at the facility entrance, and visitors wearing masks at all times.
“Abu Dhabi and the UAE have done a tremendous job during this global issue, and I am fully confident in the country’s ability to provide a safe and healthy environment to everyone visiting in fall and winter,” De Lancastre David added.