Jeev Milkha Singh becomes first golfer to be granted Dubai Golden Visa

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By Joy Chakravarty

Dubai, Sep 8 (IANS) Jeev Milkha Singh has several firsts to his name for Indian and Asian golf. He now has a first in world golf too.

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Singh, the torchbearer of Indian golf, was recognised for his outstanding achievements and granted the prestigious 10-year Dubai Golden Visa — becoming the first professional golfer in the world to be bestowed with the honour.

The 49-year-old joined a list of illustrious sportsmen such as footballers Christiano Ronaldo, Paul Pogba, Roberto Carlos, Luis Figo and Romel Lukaku; reigning tennis World No. 1 Novak Djokovic; Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza and her cricketer husband Shoaib Malik of Pakistan, among others. The list also includes Bollywood stars Shah Rukh Khan and Sanjay Dutt.

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Singh has had a long association with Dubai, having featured in several tournaments here, making many friends in the city. During the 2001 Dubai Desert Classic, he established a world record at that time when he completed the four rounds with just 94 putts in finishing tied sixth.

Winner of four titles on the European Tour, four on Japan Golf Tour and six on the Asian Tour, Singh was earlier given the ‘Gold card’ for being an elite professional athlete.

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“This is a huge honour. I think I came to Dubai for the first time in 1993, and I have loved every moment of my stay. I greatly admire the energy of this fascinating city,” said the Padma Shri awardee golfer.

“My family has enjoyed the many offerings of Dubai, like the variety of restaurants and shopping. But being a professional golfer, the biggest attraction for me is the quality of golf courses and the practice facilities that you get here, which really are second to none.

“Another thing that I love about Dubai is the connectivity. Given the amount of travelling that we do for tournaments, the geographical location is unbeatable. And thanks to Emirates airlines, you are never too far away from any corner of the world.

“I have also got a lot of support here, being one of the first ambassadors for Jumeirah Golf Estates (the golf course community that hosts the European Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship), and also of ‘Golf in Dubai’, which organised the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, for many years.

“I am really honoured and humbled that the Dubai government has considered me for the Golden Visa and I am looking forward to making many more special memories here,” the golfer said.

The Golden Visa was instituted by the UAE government in 2019 as a new system which allowed investors (minimum of AED 10 million) and entrepreneurs, as well as professionals and specialised talents like in the field of science, knowledge and sports to apply for it.

Singh, who turned professional after a brilliant amateur career that included winning the NCAA Division II Individual Championship and selection to the All-American team while playing for Abilene Texas University, became the first Indian to qualify for the European Tour and Japan Golf Tour. He also became the first from his country to play all four major championships and became Asia No. 1 twice.

Son of legendary athlete, ‘Flying Sikh’ late Milkha Singh, he won two of the biggest tournaments on the European Tour – the 2006 Volvo Masters at Valderrama, and the 2012 Scottish Open. He also won the 2008 Singapore Open and rose to No 28 in the official world rankings, a high that few Asian golfers have managed to surpass.

Now 49, Singh is ready to write the next chapter of his career. Next season, he will become the first Indian player to become a regular member of the Senior Tour, and is already guaranteed cards on the Legends Tour in Europe and the Seniors Tour in Japan. He will also be trying to qualify for the Champions Tour in the US later this year.

–IANS

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