When the "Race Dubai" was first announced as the season-ending event to the European Tour schedule, it was considered to be a major threat to the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup. With a $10 million prize waiting at the end of a desert rainbow, it was the kind of event that was aimed at getting interest from some of the game's biggest name.
It did just that. In the span of a couple of months, Anthony Kim, Phil Mickelson, Brandt Snedeker, and a host of other players decided to jump in the race. The only problem was the desert rainbow they were chasing ended up having a mirage at the end. The first place prize ended up going from $10 to $7.5 million, as Dubai started to feel the effects of the worldwide economic crisis.
After spending three years as the underwriter of the event, without much fan fare, it looks like Dubai could be on the way out as the host of the event. As the Irish Independent noted, Abu Dhabi could be taking over for the cash-strapped city in 2012.
With its economy in severe difficulty, Dubai no longer has as much money as Abu Dhabi, Qatar or even this year's newcomer, Bahrain, to dole out in appearance fees. While it costs around $3m (€2.2m) a time to bring Tiger Woods to international venues, he plays in this week's Classic to honour a contract signed and sealed prior to the economic slump.
Not enough money to splurge for appearance fees? That's a definite red flag for a city that used to spend money like it was going out of style.
While Duabi was once considered the "go-to" place for wealth and power, it now appears there's a power shift going on in the UAE, with Abu Dhabi carrying the flag as the city for the insanely wealthy.
I just wonder how much longer this season-long event is going to last in the UAE. If Dubai could only fund the event for this long, who's to say Abu Dhabi doesn't find itself in the same situation in three years' time?