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Saadiyat Beach Classic offers preview of futuristic vision

January 25, 2011 - ABU DHABI

The Saadiyat Beach Classic merits attention because of its celebrity golfers. The venue, Saadiyat Island, merits even more because of the galloping development there. The United Arab Emirates has used its oil wealth to establish a cultural district for art museums that include the Guggenheim and Louvre. Luxury housing and 29 5-star hotels are also planned for the island, described as the only site in the world where buildings designed by five Pritzker Architecture Prize winners will be found. The new Saadiyat Beach Golf Club is itself a notable facility, but eyes are more likely to be on the host, golfing icon and nine-times major tournament winner Gary Player. Celebrity golfers will be invited to this second Classic.

The Saadiyat Beach Classic merits attention because of its celebrity golfers. The venue, Saadiyat Island, merits even more because of the galloping development there. The United Arab Emirates has used its oil wealth to establish a cultural district for art museums that include the Guggenheim and Louvre. Luxury housing and 29 5-star hotels are also planned for the island, described as the only site in the world where buildings designed by five Pritzker Architecture Prize winners will be found. The new Saadiyat Beach Golf Club is itself a notable facility, but eyes are more likely to be on the host, golfing icon and nine-times major tournament winner Gary Player.Celebrity golfers will be invited to this second Classic. One of the richest states in the world, the UAE is plowing billions of petrodollars into a series of developments aimed at transforming itself into a hub for high-end tourism. Millions of the region's dollars are being spent in an explosion of art collecting. Other attractions include marinas and racetracks. A rollercoaster, the fastest in the world, is the star of nearby Ferrari World, the world's largest indoor theme park. The American architect Frank Gehry is designing the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and the French architect Jean Nouvel is designing the Louvre Abu Dhabi.Both museums are expected to open in 2012. The other attractions in the 18 square kilometer cultural district, which will include the new Sheikh Zayed National Museum, are expected to follow and to be completed by 2018. France is profiting from the Louvre deal, according to the New York Times. The country will be paid hundreds of millions of dollars to rotate between 200 and 300 artworks through the Louvre Abu Dhabi during a 10-year period, help manage the exhibitions and provide four temporary exhibitions a year for 15 years. The UAE is not alone in its quest to stand out architecturally: Palm Island in Dubai, one of the most ambitious real-estate developments on earth, has been heralded as a world wonder because it can be seen from Space. (WRITTEN NOV 2010)

Building a cutting edge oasis (US News)

The Louvre&rsquos Art: Priceless. The Louvre&rsquos Name: Expensive. (NYT 7 Mar 2007)

Will Dubai's Financial Problems Spread? (Time 27 Nov 2009)

Pritzker Prize web

Guggenheim web

Date written/update: 2011-01-25