Rory McIlroy claimed the 2023 Hero Dubai Desert Classic title. Supplied

It was announced on Tuesday that the Hero Dubai Desert Classic — the flagship event in the Middle East for the DP World Tour — has become the first golf event in the region and the DPWT Rolex Series to achieve GEO Certified Tournament status.

The announcement demonstrates the event’s leadership among sustainable golf events. The distinction is awarded by the international non-profit GEO Foundation for Sustainable Golf and is based on the strength of commitment, breadth and depth of action, and range of tangible measured impacts across a broad sustainability agenda.

Obtaining GEO Certified status has become a notable achievement showcased by many of the world’s most renowned golf venues and events.

Motivate Media Group is patron of the event and its Golf Digest Middle East team, which manages the onsite annual Desert Classic Daily News publications, have been and continue to be printed on sustainably sourced paper, to aid the environmental push.

Commenting on the award, Simon Corkill, Executive Tournament Director for the Hero Dubai Desert Classic said: “We are delighted that the Dubai Desert Classic is the first golf event in the Middle East to achieve this important distinction and milestone. It speaks to our strong dedication to tackling priority environmental and social issues, as we strive to deliver meaningful net positive impacts through the event. With the wide reach that the tournament has, we hope this achievement will help to raise awareness and inspire other events, businesses, and individuals across the region and beyond.”

A number of initiatives at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic have helped it reach the new status. DP World Tour

Ahmed Al Khaja, CEO, Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment at Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism, added: “With 2023 being the Year of Sustainability in the UAE, and as the country prepares to host COP28, the UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai, the Dubai Desert Classic’s certification is a laudable achievement and a meaningful step towards achieving the wider, national net-zero objectives. We congratulate them on their inspiring commitment to resource efficiency and climate action. This accomplishment sets an exceptional example of sustainable best practice within such high-profile global mass events, further reinforcing the city’s position as an international events hub in line with the Dubai Economic Agenda 2033 launched by our visionary leadership to further consolidate Dubai’s status as one of the top three global cities.”

The criteria for the certification of tournaments spans a range of priority sustainability themes and action areas; supported by detailed best practices; which are in turn weighted and scored. A minimum number of points are required to achieve certification. These are verified by an accredited, third party and expert verifier, who visits during event week to observe practices, projects, and other activations on site. A verifier report is then submitted to the GEO Certification team. If the criteria are met, certification is then awarded accompanied by key Continual Improvement Points.

Andrew Lynch, Head of Sustainability for the European Tour group said: “It is wonderful to see events across the DP World Tour schedule leaning into sustainability in this way. Making it integral to the way they are planned, staged, and promoted. It aligns fully with our own Green Drive strategy and leadership actions we are taking across our own operations and our owned and staged events. We encourage all of our valued tournament promoters to join the Hero Dubai Desert Classic in making their tournaments a true showcase for sustainability.”

The Desert Classic has been a staple of golf in the Middle East for nearly a quarter-century. Supplied

Highlights from the Hero Dubai Desert Classic included:

  • Wide use of solar power with the Media Centre and 80 per cent of the fan area between 11th and 15th holes powered by solar
  • Free water refill points have helped divert 80,000 single-use plastic bottles from Landfill since 2022
  • 100 per cent biofuel used in temporary generators throughout the event helping accelerate towards Dubai’s Clean Energy Strategy 2050, with up to 92 per cent less carbon emissions compared to traditional diesel generators
  • Spectators actively encouraged through campaigns and discount codes to use public transport or car share as more sustainable transport options
  • Park and Plant — for those who did travel by car, there was a charge of AED 50 for parking on site and the event planted three trees for each car
  • Digital ticketing and programme reduced paper waste
  • Extensive recycling and composting initiatives to reduce waste to landfill
  • Along with actions to reduce carbon emissions, credibly offsetting unavoidable emissions via the Rolex Series portfolio with the Gold Standard, supporting the Central Mozambique safe water programme, alongside local Mangrove ecosystem restoration project
  • PVC and vinyl from event infrastructure re-used or turned into laptop bags and other products
  • 2,000 native Ghaf tree seeds planted across Emirates Golf Club
  • Support for Heroes of Hope, introducing people of determination to golf via organised clinics with the Academy at Emirates Golf Club.
  • Renewable energy event partner Aggreko won ‘best sustainability initiative’ award for its involvement in Dubai Desert Classic 2022 and 2023 at Middle East Event Awards June 2023.