A new sporting facility has opened early this month ensuing the vision of Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler of Abu Dhabi and President of the UAE to turn Al Ain into a sports destination.
Situated on the west side of the city (at the south of the road between Tawam Hospital roundabout and the Maqam Palace traffic lights, where the old Equestrian Centre was), the Palm Sports Resort is a sporting facility comprised of a 9-hole grass golf course, an equestrian centre and a rugby club. Another 9-hole golf course, race track, grand stadium, a shooting club and a 120-room hotel will be added once the second phase of the resort is finished within the next two years.
The Golf Course also has advanced teaching equipments, a floodlit driving range and putting area, 40 electric carts, 16 caddies, and changing facilities, among others. Within the restaurant is an indoor golf simulator that stages the other golf courses in the world.
Beside it is the Equestrian Centre, a purpose built facility with air-conditioned stables for 70 horses and a clubhouse. Around 30 horses will be available for its Riding school, which will provide horseback riding lessons in all levels.
On the other side is the Rugby Club, which will be the new home of the Al Ain Amblers Rugby Club. The Rugby Club has two floodlit grass playing fields, 300-seater grandstand, a 25-meter swimming pool and separate toddlers pool, two tennis courts and a fitness centre. Its clubhouse is sectioned into two bars: the Ruck-and-Maul, which consists of a restaurant and a sports bar theme with four wide screen televisions showcasing all sports around the world; and the Terrace, which offers an outdoor atmosphere to its users.
“The first game will be on September 14, and we will be going against the players from Kuwait. About 15% of our players were Muslims, and we are inviting the local children to come and play. Every two weeks, we will have games here,” said Steve Arnott, Chairman of the Al Ain Rugby Club.
“Many expatriates play rugby. We have 200 members of the club last year. About 120 children and 50 adults are playing the sport. In the Gulf Region, there are more than 2,000 adults and 3,000 children playing rugby… We are just beginning here in the UAE. We have a team called the Arabian Gulf made up of all the best players from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Doha, Muscat, Kuwait and Bahrain. They are all picked and they represent the Middle East as one team called the Arabian Gulf.”
“Rugby is a very safe sport – we will also conduct training courses that will teach safety for them – and a very easy game for children. It has more physical contact than the other sports. In soccer, you just kick the ball and stand around. In rugby, you have to kick the ball and attack people as well. But the club will not only host rugby. Members can play other sports such as swimming, scuba diving, soccer, tennis, netball, judo and softball.”