Property mogul Donald Trump flew into Dubai today (Monday) to inspect the progress on his golf course and residential development in the desert – and praise his “hot as a pistol” architect Gil Hanse.
The Trump organisation is working alongside developers DAMAC and golf course designer Hanse on the Akoya project. The par-71 18-hole championship standard course will be the focal point of the new residential development which is being constructed along Umm Sequim Road.
It includes villas designed by Trump’s daughter Ivanka, other sports facilities and retail and dining outlets.
Trump has 14 award-winning courses across the world under the control of his organisation – however none are currently in the Middle East or Asia.
He said: “I want to congratulate everyone in Dubai on what they have done. They have done an amazing job.
“Gil Hanse is the best golf course architect in the world and this course will not only be the best in the Middle East, but among the best in the world. Gil Hanse – he is as hot as a pistol right now. \
“Everyone in the golfing world is talking about Gil Hanse and the job he did here is the best he has ever done.”
Hanse has been a frequent visitor to the site and said he has worked to combine elements of the area’s natural features with the course.
“This is a unique project for me – the first course I have designed in a desert,” he said.
“We actually spent a lot of time going out into the desert and studying the land forms. We wanted to create a believable landscape without a sense of separation from natural forms.
“One challenge was the wind out here. It makes around a lot of stuff that is just sitting there blow around but in some ways that can help as it creates natural sweeps.”
But the heat of Dubai was an issue which Hanse had to take on board.
“I am a great believer in golf as a walking game but there are times of year when this is not possible in Dubai,” he said.
“But what we had here was a blank canvas and that can be a challenge or an opportunity. We embraced it as an opportunity. We know it will not feel exactly like the desert. There’s no greenery in the desert for a start. But what we can do is recreate the drama of the steep inclines.”
Hanse also spoke to 42 times PGA event winner Phil Mickelson on the project.
“Phil is someone who is interested in what I do and he has a good knowledge of – and interest in – architecture.”
Trump said he saw the course as a world class facility and would l like to bring the Ryder Cup to Dubai.
“It would be a suitable venue for the European tour as well,” he said. “I think we have a good chance of landing the Ryder Cup.”
Trump first expressed an interest in working in Dubai in the run-up to the global recession. However the economic downturn halted his projects.
He said: “It wasn’t just Dubai that went bad. The world went bad – New York, Los Angeles – any place you can name.
“We were going to do something in Dubai but we were fortunate that we didn’t actually start. So no-one got hurt. And I always wanted to come back. We never forgot Dubai and now we are here in a big way.”