After a week of highly competitive quality polo, Desert Palm were crowned 2016 champions at the 8th edition of The Royal Salute UAE Nations Cup, hosted at the Desert Palm Retreat, Dubai, on Friday 29th January 2016. The match final, played in front of an event record-breaking crowd on featured Dubai’s polo and society elite, saw Desert Palm led by Ali Albwardy emerge as champions in the 8th edition of the Royal Salute sponsored tournament.

Over 500 VIPs gathered along the Partner’s Terrace at the glorious Desert Palm Retreat to witness Desert Palm beat Royal Salute. Whilst it was a hard fought contest, Desert Palm was never behind in the match. They raced to a 4-1 lead at the end of the 2nd chukka, thanks to a hat-trick from Abdullah Al Naboodah, returning to the saddle after an eight year absence. A brief Royal Salute revival in the 3rd chukka, with goals from Rodulfo Ducas and Sam Instone, saw the score pegged back to 4-3, but within seconds of the 4th chukka starting, a fine individual effort from Matias Machado extended Desert Palm’s lead to 5-3. With three minutes to go Roldolfo Ducos, with his second, pulled one back for Royal Salute, but any hopes of reaching parity vanished almost immediately with a penalty awarded to Desert Palm. Abdullah Al Naboodah stepped up and converted the opportunity, his fourth goal for the day and secured a 6-4 victory for the home team.

Ali Albwardy lifted the Richard Fox designed silver trophy along with his teammates. The Royal Salute UAE Nations Cup 2016 was awarded by His Grace, Torquhil Ian Campbell, the 13th Duke of Argyll and David Freeborn, Managing Director of Pernod Ricard Gulf.

David Freeborn, Managing Director of Pernod Ricard Gulf commented: “The Royal Salute UAE Nations Cup has once again lived up to its deserved reputation of bringing quality, competitive polo combined with first class hospitality to an enthralled audience of VIP’s and the public here at the glorious Desert Palm Retreat. We congratulate Mr Ali Albwardy for his success and thank him for his continued support of our event, now firmly established in Dubai’s polo calendar. The power and grace on display in today’s final not only defines the elegance, richness and complexity of Royal Salute, but also the character of the brand as evidenced through its support of the sport of polo. We congratulate Desert Palm on their well deserved and exciting victory.”


The teams:
Royal Salute
Najeeb Khoury
Cedric Coucke
Sam Instone (captain)
Rodolfo Ducos

Desert Palm
Abdullah Al Naboodah
Ali Albwardy (captain)
Tareq Albwardy
Matias Machado

Royal Salute UAE Nations Cup 2016

Polo action at The Royal Salute UAE Nations Cup 2016. (© Royal Salute UAE Nations Cup 2016)

About Royal Salute UAE Nations Cup:
Launched in 2009 by world number one polo player Adolfo Cambiaso, who also captained the winning UAE team in 2012, The Royal Salute UAE Nations Cup is an annual event held to celebrate polo in Dubai, and to reinforce the Desert Palm Retreat as the Middle East’s leading polo estate.