There’s plenty to attract both sports fans and casual observers…

One of the biggest events on the Middle East sporting calendar, and a true legacy sporting event in Dubai, the Dubai Desert Classic will celebrate its 33rd edition this month.

To mark the occasion, the region’s longest-running golf tournament has,  for the first time in its history, been elevated to Rolex Series status, becoming part of the DP World Tour’s premium series of events.

With major attractions on the course at Emirates Golf Club, and off it in the family-friendly Tournament Town, there is plenty to attract both sports fans and casual observers from January 27 to 30.

1. Star attractions

Collin Morikawa

Tournament organisers recently confirmed that two-time champion Rory McIlroy will play in the 2022 Dubai Desert Classic, adding further star power to an elite field that already includes world number two and newly-crowned DP World Rankings winner Collin Morikawa (pictured above), former Masters champion and 2017 Dubai Desert Classic winner Sergio Garcia, and defending champion Paul Casey. Keep your eyes peeled for more top-level challengers chasing the Rolex Series event’s $8 million prize fund.

2. Free access

For the first time in the tournament’s history, tickets for the Dubai Desert Classic are free for spectators over all four days. The decision was made in recognition of the UAE’s recent Golden Jubilee. Simon Corkill, tournament director, said: “What better way to celebrate the UAE turning 50 than free access to a truly global sporting event on our doorstep.”

3. Food glorious food

There will be plenty of options for foodies to try this year. The food trucks at Tournament Town will serve up delicious fare, from pizzas and wings to shawarmas, poke bowls, desserts and more.

4. That’s entertainment

At Tournament Town, some of the city’s most talented local performers will sing live, with bean bags and seating adding a real relaxed vibe. There’ll also be face painting and bouncy castles, making it a truly family-friendly event.

5. In the pink

Rory in Pink

Continuing its support of the Al Jalila Foundation, Saturday January 29 is Pink Saturday. All players and caddies will wear something pink, and spectators are encouraged to join in to support the worthy cause. There’s a best-dressed competition for adults and children and prizes worth over Dhs2,000.

6. Dallah Lounge

Dallah Lounge

The Dubai Desert Classic is bringing in a brand-new hospitality offering this year. The revamped Dallah Lounge terraces and Sky Deck sit in a prime location overlooking both the ninth and 18th greens. Spectators will be able to soak up the action throughout the day and watch in real comfort thanks to the new set-up, a major development in corporate sporting offerings.

7. Ring the bell

If it’s a party atmosphere tournament-goers are looking for, head to the Topgolf deck. In addition to an array of pop-up F&B outlets to choose from, the ‘Ring the Bell’ feature enables spectators within this viewing spot to secure themselves discounts on selected drinks any time a birdie is holed.

8. Sustainability Sunday

The Dubai Desert classic has made a three-year commitment to becoming more geo-certified. As part of that journey, the tournament’s Sustainable Sunday initiative will push four overarching messages: energy, waste, fuel and legacy. Aggreko solar panel and biodiesel units will be installed on the clubhouse roof, while a new partnership with a waste management company will reduce waste sent to landfills. Finally, in association with Goumbook, there will also be opportunities to plant Ghaf trees in Tournament Town.

9. Register before January 17 and be in with a chance of winning a Golden Ticket

To celebrate the UAE’s Golden Jubilee, Dubai Desert Classic is giving the general public the chance to win a ‘Golden Ticket’ when registering for their free General Admission tickets to the event. To mark each decade of the UAE, five Golden Tickets will be up for grabs to anyone who registersA range of prizes are up for grabs, including access to the new Dallah Lounge Hospitality where the winner and a friend could bag front-row seats to the live-action on the 9th and 18th Greens, while enjoying top food and drink from the comfort of the Dallah Lounge and Sky Deck. Register before January 17, and five winners will be notified on January 20.

Emirates Golf Club, free, January 27 to 30,