The Soba Golf Course is the first golf course to open in Sudan.
Peter Harradine, Swiss architect and owner of the Harradine Golf Company has built the 9 hole course. The company is well known for building courses across the globe in war zones. Sudan is located in the last place you would expect to find and outpost for a sport primarily associated with the rich and powerful. The golf course has the same physical appeal as Augusta or St. Andrews.
Harradine has also built courses in Algeria, Kuwait and Pakistan. The company has just signed a contract to build a course in Georgia as it heals from its conflict with Russia. “I get contacted by all sorts of different people, Harradine told CNN. I’m based in Dubai, as are a lot of investors who use Dubai as a hub. So I have had calls for places like Georgia, Tunisa and of course Sudan, but I’m not consciously waiting for wars to end!”
According to CNN, Harradine’s past constructions consist of more than 186 courses that read like a tableau of political unrest from the past two decades. Some Sudanese have gained substantial wealth as a result of its oil rich industry while others are still very poor. Based on an IMF report, Sudan’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew an average of eight percent year-on-year between 2004-2008. “There are a lot of rich people in Khartoum,” Harradine told CNN.
However, UNESCO’s first World Water Development Report said an 18 –hole golf course can use as much as 2.3 million liters of water every day. The UK-based NGO Water Aid estimates that 66 percent of Sudanese, more than 25 million people, do not have access to clean water. “We are not here to tell the Sudanese they can or cannot have a golf course but I’d be very surprised if the economic benefits will help the communities that live cheek by jowl with it,” explained Water Aid’s Oliver Cumming.
Harradine’s does not engage in the political issues that plague the various countries, he is focused on providing the sport to those who simply enjoy the game. “During the construction we employed 200 people from the neighboring shacks,” Harradine continued. “They all had work, plus the security. A lot of people are learning how to maintain a golf course and each player has a local caddie. So these guys will all become players. In the beginning the richer clients profit, but in the end it trickles down to the normal guy.”
Harradine’s next stop is Kurdistan, Iraq.