I thought Jebel Ali Hotel and Golf Resort would be closer. After all, twenty years ago, it was our festive friday destination or an afternoon drive with our Teta, our paternal grandmother. We drove on the Abu Dhabi Road (now called Sheikh Zayed Road), which had two lanes on either side and we eventually would veer on a perpendicular road that led us straight to Jebel Ali Hotel.We would pass desert dunes and would spot camels. We always noticed the chimneys of Dubal Industrial Zone and then, past the "jebel" which is but a hill with a satellite dish. We would peer with excitement in search of the palace or the great big white boat, which was really the massive hotel.
It was the Saleh and Baqr families who had the vision of this resort, in the middle of the nowhere, on the beach. The edifice blended in the horizon and its marble halls appeared like a mirage in the desert. The gardens were flamboyantly green with dashes of bougainvillias. My grandmother loved the place and the trip was always considered worthwhile.
Today I drove the distance with my son because I had heard that the big 9 holes course was well priced and that the grounds were pretty. My expectations were not too high as I had been disappointed by the Arabian Ranches golf club and also to a certain degree by the Festival City golf club with its prohibitive green fees.
The service at the Jebel Ali Golf Club is nothing less than perfect. The staff is friendly, serviceable and kind. As background information, my ten year old son is a much better player than I am. Both of us began playing large courses last year only and I still get the expected nervousness at the beginning of the game. Many believe that golf isn't a dynamic sport. They should try playing two hours like we did today or four hours had we chosen to play 18 holes. Granted we drive a buggy but I have walked for 9 holes once and it was very enjoyable. I think that if and when my game improves, I would resort to walking, as I would make it to the green in fewer shots!
The mental focus during these long stretches of time is incredible. We are always considering the various variables and making decisions based on those variables. The other half of the game is retaining the technique! Just this morning I had practiced my swing as well as my chipping and that did not prevent all the unwanted errors today.
The first hole at Jebel Ali is a long intimidating one. The last one is equivalent but I played it with half the amount of points. I began the game, grunting and making one mistake after the other. But then my muscles warmed up and I was playing without thinking too much. My son coached me: "just chip mama, a normal one, stop thinking about how to chip."
The manicured lawns, the beautiful landscaping, the wandering "trademark" peacocks, the green hills and variety of palms, the small lakes and intimidating bunkers and always the landmark hotel, reminding me where I was, somewhere in my past, considering this was a visit to a place long time not seen.
I passed a free standing gate on the green that seemed abandoned and a sign explained: old gate house. A rush of nostalgia hit me. I remembered my Teta and her predilection for Jebel Ali Hotel. I also thought of the Saleh and Baqr vision being so clear at the time. Thirty years later, Abu Dhabi and Dubai have become two integrated communities, a quasi megalopolis and Jebel Ali Hotel and Golf Resort stands in the middle, servicing a huge influx of tourists! Like an Oasis or Wadi.
The Jebel Ali vision was that of the late HH Sheik Rashid who commissioned DUTCO,the joint company of the two local families,to start up the Jebel Ali Port,a costruction wonder of digging up a giant pool and bringing the sea water to fill it.Sheik Rashid wanted to build a large airport away from Dubai,so that passengers from Abu Dhabi can also use it.He invited five airlines forming the Penta Hotel group to manage this hotel.It was DUTCO who were asked to build the hotel in anticipation for the airport that was never built at the time.So the two families were left with a hotel in the middle of no where,an oasis of greenery and flowers.ReplyDelete
Now HH Sheik Mohammad,in the footsteps of his late father,commissioned the building of Dubai World Central,which when finished will be the largest airport in the world.