A figurehead of women’s golf in the Arab world, Maha Haddioui fancies her chances of a strong finish at the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters held under the under patronage of HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, wife of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, at Emirates Golf Club from December 7 to 13.
The first Arab woman to earn full playing status on the Ladies European Tour, the 26-year-old from Agadir, Morocco, will join a top-class field headlined by defending champion Pornanong Phatlum of Thailand, English golfing legend Laura Davies, rising sensation Charley Hull and China’s Shanshan Feng as she continues to put Arab women’s golf on the sporting map.
Her results on the Tour may have been mixed so far, but she feels that she is now comfortable with life as a travelling golf professional. “I’m trying to just focus on every shot and every tournament individually and whatever happens, happens,” said Haddioui whose best finish this season is tied 22nd at the French Ladies Open, highlighted by an opening round of 66.
“I’m looking forward to playing in Dubai. It’s one of the biggest tournaments of the year. The weather and playing conditions are just amazing. The goal is to try and enjoy every single tournament and do my best,” said Haddioui, who will be making her third appearance in Dubai.
Before turning professional early in 2011, she was a four-time All American scholar and NCGA First-team All American, graduating with a Masters in Accounting and International Business last year.
“The time (four years) spent at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, has really helped hone my skills and talents,” she said, adding: “My dream has always been to play on a tour, said Haddioui, who took to the fairways when she was 13, but quickly gained proficiency in the game.
“I’m really happy I turned pro and everybody has been very helpful as well.” Haddioui, whose dream is to follow in the footsteps of great Moroccan athletes like Hicham El Guerrouj when golf returns to the Olympic Games in 2016 and win a medal for her country.
Wishing her luck, Mohamed Juma Buamaim, vice chairman and CEO of golf in DUBAi, said: “Maha has emerged as role model for aspiring female golfers not only Morocco, but in the entire region.
“Morocco is leading the way when it comes to professional golf in the Arab world, and it’s definitely important for people from other countries to see how their golfers are shaping up. The rising standard of the game in the country is certainly a tribute to years of investment in golf from Royal family,” he added.
The Omega Dubai Ladies Masters is backed by OMEGA as the title sponsor and Dubal (Dubai Aluminium) as sponsor. The co-sponsors are: CNN, Drydocks World & Maritime World, Emirates NBD, Gulf News, Jebel Ali Resorts and Hotels, Mercedes and wasl, while Dubai Duty Free, Neocasa Interiors and Motivate Publishing are the Patrons in golf in DUBAi’s drive to showcase the emirate’s vibrant golfing scene to a worldwide audience.