Wen Yi Huang received unexpected New Year greetings when Emirati equestrian superstar Tariq Al Muhairi and his talented steed Al Maranthi (Ocean Prince) put on an exclusive display for the Chinese golfer to welcome in ‘The Lunar Year of the Horse.’
Huange, a former building site labourer, is in the UAE for this weekend's Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
“Though Chinese New Year celebrations don’t begin until January 30th we wanted to take the opportunity to wish Wen Yi Huang well both in this week’s championship and for the Year of the Horse,” said Ali Eid AlMheiri, Executive Director of Mubadala Real Estate & Infrastructure, the developers of Abu Dhabi’s Al Maryah Island.
“This is the start of our plans for a Chinese New Year celebration on Al Maryah Island at the centre of Abu Dhabi which is home to Rosewood Abu Dhabi hotel and The Galleria, Abu Dhabi’s premier shopping and dining destination. We intend this to become an annual event, one that will grow in the years to come.”
The display was on the beachfront at the Monte Carlo Beach Club, Saadiyat.
“There couldn’t be a better setting for a display by an Ocean Prince than Saadiyat Beach,” said 38-year-old Tariq, who runs Abu Dhabi’s Yah (Northern Star) stables. “Wen Yi was an enthusiastic student and if he ever decides to lay down his golf clubs, he should get into the saddle.”
For Wen Yi, the morning display was the realization of an ambition come true.
“I’d always wanted to ride a horse but have never had the time as I’m always flying from one place to another to play golf. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this and appreciate the effort Abu Dhabi has gone too,” said the golfing-star-in-the making, who is tipped to enter the world’s top 100 in the coming year.
“Yes, I’ve read all the comments from golf critics about where I could go in the next year and I hope they’re right – certainly the Year of the Horse has got off to a gallop for me.”
The display was staged by Al Maryah Island and Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), which are pushing to build Chinese inbound visitor arrivals to the emirate.
“The Chinese are proving to be a strong target group for our assets delivering significant spend to the destination,” said Ali Eid AlMheiri. “We are looking to build cultural ties with this much sought-after segment and Abu Dhabi’s traditional equestrian roots could not find a better platform than in the Year of the Horse.”
Al Maryah Island’s Chinese New Year celebrations are to be rolled out shortly and are expected to attract visitors from throughout the Gulf and beyond.
“The celebrations will be for everyone, Chinese and other nationalities and we hope to deliver an element of surprise which will set the stage for the years to come.”
Wen Yi will line up at this weekend’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship against some of the event’s strongest participants including former world number ones Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy, Abu Dhabi’s record-breaking ambassador Matteo Manassero, crowd favourite and world number 10 Sergio Garcia and reigning Race to Dubai winner Henrik Stenson at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
“To be given the opportunity to play alongside some of the world’s greatest players is a challenge I’m really relishing. I’m told the course is tougher than ever and might throw up a few unexpected results, but I intend to take them in my stride,” said Wen Yi.
It’s finally time to welcome golfing heavyweights Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and Matteo Manassero, among others, to the 9th Annual Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
What makes this event our number one pick for the whole family this weekend is that there is something happening for everyone to enjoy, from the most discerning amateur golfers and followers to newcomers to the sport and those not really into it at all (although you will be by the time this four-day showpiece is up).
The Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship is now one of the biggest events on the European Tour, regularly attracting some of golf’s most famous names, and, since its inception in 2006 by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (ADTCA), it has taken place at the sublime Abu Dhabi Golf Club as part of the Tour’s ‘Desert Swing’.
For spectators, aside from witnessing a 72-hole edge-of-your-seat spectacle, the event boasts the region’s largest off-course entertainment village, which includes everything from race car simulators, great refreshments choice, to action for the whole family in the incredible HSBC Interactive Zone.
The addition of a new public Sky Box overlooking the 17th green serving delicious food and beverages all day offers yet another perfect place to sit back, relax and soak up the atmosphere!
Make note of the Theme Days too: Thursday is Mini Falcons’ Day Out allowing mums and tots to go free, while Friday is the day for ladies to dress to impress. Not only do women gain free entry that day, which includes a complimentary beverage, but there will be the chance for one fashionista to walk away with the coveted Hello! Middle East Best Dressed Prize.
Meanwhile, Saturday’s theme is ‘A Splash of Red’. In celebration of the Championship colour, simply come decked out in all your wardrobe’s reddest hues and join the masses in similar fashion on the busiest day of the tournament.
As for the party animals, Abu Dhabi Golf Club’s Falcon Terrace is the hottest ticket in town. Over the course of the four-day tournament, Falcon Terrace Hospitality ticket holders will gain unique opportunities to meet some of the world’s best players, enjoy a dedicated waitress service and savour delectable food and beverage served throughout the day.
As the day’s golfing action draws to a close, award-winning international DJ, Greg Stainer, will keep the crowds entertained with a live set of the latest tracks, on the Falcon Terrace from 6pm until late.
Based in the UAE and host of Radio 1’s ‘Club Anthems’, Stainer has previously taken his brand of accessible house music to some of the world’s most iconic venues including London’s Ministry of Sound and El Divino in Ibiza.
For any late availability and more information on the Falcon Terrace Hospitality Packages contact: [email protected] or telephone 02 558 8990.
There is absolutely no question that the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship is the one of the most highly anticipated golfing event in the Arabian Gulf, year-on-year delivering the perfect setting to watch the world’s top golfers in action and a multitude of unexpected thrills to keep spectators on the edge of their seats.
So, really, there’s not much more to say except that the UAE capital is the place to be this weekend. Enjoy.
What: The 9th Annual Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship
When: Thursday 16th to Sunday 19th January, doors open from 6.45am
Where: Abu Dhabi Golf Club Ages: All ages warmly welcomed, and in fact Juniors 18 and under go free all weekend if accompanied by a ticketholding adult.
Sport360 VERDICT: You don’t have to be a devout golf fan to enjoy what is a sensational day out for the entire family. Tic kets : From Dh50 for general admission with a number of attractive packages available. Tickets can be purchased on the door or via ticketmaster.ae
Now this is getting really scary…despite his phenomenal success in the latter half of 2013, Henrik Stenson believes he has a lot to improve.
The Swede, who returned to the UAE after a quick trip to Stockholm to pick a couple more awards – the Male Sports Athlete of the Year and also the first male golfer to win the Radiosportens Jerringpris, an award for the top sporting achievement of the year as voted for by the Swedish public – starts his 2014 season today at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
Speaking on the eve of the tournament, in which he has finished runner-up twice and holds the course record of 10-under par 62, the world No3 said the big challenge would be to somehow not get distracted and lose his focus.
“The key thing is to keep on doing the same things that I did for the last year and a half that really led up to that great run that I had on the back end of last year,” said the top-ranked player in the tournament.
“To keep on developing as a player, I still feel like there are a lot of areas that I can improve on, quite a lot in some and a little bit less in others perhaps.
“As we all know, golf is a game where you never get finished. You can always keep on getting better and keep on working.
The moment you sit down and you’re happy where you’re at, normally you start going backwards.”
When asked to outline the areas in which he thought he still needed to improve, Stenson added: “I think the two key areas for me, my overall putting and my wedge game.
“I definitely feel like I can gain shots in putting. I’d say if I look at the stats, I think I’m probably about average in putting on the PGA Tour.
“And then I feel my pitching is normally a strong part, but my wedge game, probably 100, 120 yards, I can improve a lot, as well.
“My bunker play hasn’t been as good as it can, either. So there’s still a lot of room for improvement, I promise.”
Stenson was the talk of the golfing world last year for his double-double when he won the FedEx Cup and the Race to Dubai on either side of the Atlantic, and also triumphed in the Tour Championships on both Tours.
His goal for the next 12 months is logically to win a Major and displace Tiger Woods as world No1.
Asked what he needs to do to overtake Woods, he said: “Well, the simple answer would just to be keep on playing the way I have been playing and I should hopefully challenge for it.
“But I can’t put my focus on that. My focus has to be on my game and doing the right things, and hopefully the result will continue to keep coming our way.
And if they do, I hope I’ll be in with a chance to firstly get to world No2 and then to world No1.
“I think it would be a lovely achievement and something to look back at the end of one’s career. “Whether it happens or not, that’s written in the future and I can only focus on what I can control.
“I mean, even if I win three tournaments in the next four weeks, Tiger or Adam might do the same or even better. I can only do my bit and then we’ll see.”