Could Europe Host The Ryder Cup In The Middle East?

It has been suggested. But is it really that daft an idea to hold a Ryder Cup in the Middle East?

Rory McIlroy drives off the 8th hole at Emirates GC with the Dubai skyline in view
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Holding the Ryder Cup in the Middle East may sound a bizarre notion. But it is a suggestion that has been floating around for several years now.

Donald Trump was one of those who thought it was a good wheeze. But this admittedly came from self-interest, in connection with Trump building a course in Dubai. “I’m not saying we’ll get the Ryder Cup, but I think we’ll have a great chance,” declared Trump bullishly at the time.

When asked to respond to this in a press conference before the Irish Open of 2014, Graeme McDowell had replied: “It sounds a little kind of crazy. But when you look at what Dubai and the Middle East means to the European Tour, it would be a pretty amazing Ryder Cup venue.

"They have got some amazing golf courses over there. I don’t think the Americans would have a problem with it. It would be a fun place to have a Ryder Cup.”

There are several snags of course. One of them is that the Middle East is not in Europe.

So Europe would be giving away home advantage to a certain extent. However the UAE is home to a large European population and is easily accessible from all corners of the world, so big crowds would be possible and ex-pats living in Africa, Asia and Australia could get there easier than some places in Europe.

But would Europe get its typical partisan following? Unlikely.

The UAE would be expensive destination for fans to get to and stay in. One thing that makes the Ryder Cup special – and why it was not held without spectators in the pandemic, as it could have been – is the atmosphere created by the noisy partisan crowds.

The 18th hole at the Earth Course, Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai

Jumeirah Golf Estates hosts the Race to Dubai finale each year on the DP World Tour

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The DP World Tour has been visiting the UAE for decades now, though, and it is where the Tour Championship takes place and the Race to Dubai champion is crowned each year.

It's not just Dubai where a Ryder Cup could take place. Abu Dhabi now has a rich golf heritage and is home to the likes of Abu Dhabi Golf Club and Yas Links, both of which have hosted the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in recent years. The tournament is currently on the DP World Tour's Rolex Series and always attracts a world class field.

Abu Dhabi Golf Club final hole and clubhouse pictured

Abu Dhabi Golf Club hosted this year's Hero Cup and is one of the DP World Tour's regular venues

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Another potential Ryder Cup destination in the Middle East could be Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom is investing heavily in sports, and of course golf via LIV and the new link up between the Public Investment Fund and the PGA Tour. The men's game has gone through turbulent times since the inception of LIV Golf and there is set to be a new chapter from 2024 if the PGA Tour and DP World Tour can agree a plan with the PIF.

Saudi Arabia has already hosted world class sport in the form of golf, F1, boxing and even WWE wrestling, so you'd have to think the country would love to host a Ryder Cup one day.

Ultimately, money talks and the Middle East has a lot of it. It has influence and connections. So it would not be a total shock if it were to happen.

Will it happen? Not for a while yet. The 2027 Ryder Cup is set for Adare Manor in Ireland and reports of the next European venue, in 2031, point to it remaining in Europe.

The European Ryder Cup in 2035 could be a possibility though, who knows.

Roderick Easdale

Contributing Writer Golf courses and travel are Roderick’s particular interests and he was contributing editor for the first few years of the Golf Monthly Travel Supplement. He writes travel articles and general features for the magazine, travel supplement and website. He also compiles the magazine's crossword. He is a member of Trevose Golf & Country Club and has played golf in around two dozen countries. Cricket is his other main sporting love. He is the author of five books, four of which are still in print: The Novel Life of PG Wodehouse; The Don: Beyond Boundaries; Wally Hammond: Gentleman & Player and England’s Greatest Post-War All Rounder.