Investments fuel North Africa Boom

With all that money flowing out of Middle Eastern oil wells, it's natural that some of it would spill over into golf developments in other parts of the world.

"They're taking their model to other parts of the world including South Africa and Asia," said John Strawn, CEO of RTJII Design.

Some examples: Pearl Valley Estates in South Africa, done by Leisurecorp of Dubai; IFA Hotels & Resorts of Kuwait funding the Legend Golf & Safari Resort and the Fairmont Zimbali, both in South Africa; and Emaar of Dubai investing in projects and joint ventures in Turkey, India and Pakistan.

Another spot the investments by the oil sheiks are being felt is North Africa, a place with similar cultural, religious and political ties to the Middle East.

The hottest golf spot in North Africa? Tunisia has had some new courses being built, but Tunisia, Libya and Algeria have had a volatile political history. Egypt has begun to embrace golf development as well, some with funding from Dubai.

But the big money is banking on Morocco, partly because of its more stable government and partly because it has long attracted visitors from Europe.

Emaar Properties of Dubai, among the world's largest developers, has signed a memorandum of understanding with the king of Morocco that has led to several proposals, including a golf and ski resort in Oukaimeden in the Atlas Mountains as well as the luxurious Amelkis golf developments in Marrakech and a residential golf community, Bahia Bay, along the Moroccan coast.

"In the past, Spain and Portugal were the automatic first choices of Northern European tourists," Sartori said. "So they have had a monopoly there-Costa del Sol, Algarve. But in recent years, they?ve begun to face competition from emerging destinations."

He said British tourists, who in the past have focused on Spain and Portugal because of their proximity to the UK, are beginning to look elsewhere.

"Morocco and Tunisia are attractive to them, too," he said. "They're alternatives for golf and for second homes as well because prices are lower."

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