The Riyadh Golf Course, located less than 20 minutes from the capital of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, and at the gates of the Arabian Desert, perhaps one of the most inhospitable places on the planet, was inaugurated in 1990 as a novelty to get something green to grow in these lands. Until then, the country, almost as big as the continent of Europe, had a dozen or so dirt courses that the British had created in order to pursue their passion: golf.
With the irruption of Aramco (Arabian American Oil Company) and later the LIV Golf League, sponsored by the PIF (Public Investment Foundation) under the control of the Crown, Prince Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud and Governor Yasir al-Rumayyan, a revaluation of golf courses in the Kingdom began.
Javier Farrán was one of those chosen by the Saudi Golf Federation to improve the Riyadh course and for the next big projects to come.
"This type of project requires a lot of water, a lot of work and a great team behind me. My job is to maintain the existing golf courses and help with the new projects that are coming up. Here the golf industry is starting to take off, it's going very fast and in the right direction, and that's basically our job," explains Javier.
And it's not all about investing money like crazy, which they have plenty of, according to those who are currently attending the first international women's championship in Arabia, with several Spanish players in the competition, but rather taking advantage of it to make mega-investments that would be unthinkable in other parts of the world. Projects such as creating a smart city in the middle of the desert, whose waste water will be used to irrigate the golf courses.
In Spain, and especially in Andalusia," Ferrán stresses, "we were pioneers in using regenerated water that was being wasted and going straight into the sea, and using and recycling it to irrigate golf courses. Thanks to this, the golf tourism industry in Spain has grown so much. That example and that technology, now augmented and improved, is going to be created here," says Javier.
Drip irrigation, on which Almeria's agriculture was based to become the vegetable garden of Europe; the regeneration of waste water; transgenic grasses that require little irrigation are the instruments with which this Spanish pioneer wants to turn the Saudi desert into a gigantic oasis and an unprecedented paradise for golfers.