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Emirates builds Saudi profile as Riyadh Air nears take-off

Emirates will be main sponsor of the tournament in Saudi. It also supports the UAE Pro League Emirates
Emirates will be main sponsor of the tournament in Saudi. It also supports the UAE Pro League
  • Dubai-based airline to be main sponsor of King Salman Club Cup
  • Football tournament brings together 16 top teams from Mena region
  • Gulf carriers gear up for increased competition from PIF-owned startup

Emirates has signed up as the main sponsor and official airline of the King Salman Club Cup 2023.

The deal will give the Dubai-based airline extensive brand visibility in stadiums and marketing for the football tournament, which is being held as a new Saudi carrier, Riyadh Air, gears up for launch.

Riyadh Air, wholly owned by the sovereign Public Investment Fund, is part of the kingdom’s strategy to boost the number of passengers through its 29 airports from 100 million to 330 million by the end of the decade under Vision 2030.

Aviation analysts expect the airline’s launch to spark a price war among the region’s carriers and increased competition “for every possible connecting passenger”.

Jabr Al Azeeby, vice president of Saudi Arabia for Emirates, pointed to the airline’s long-term involvement in football sponsorship.

The Arab Club Champions Cup – which has been renamed the King Salman Club Cup this year – is a 16-team tournament for teams from across the GCC and North Africa, organised by the Union of Arab Football Associations. This year’s competition is being held on July 27 to August 12 in three Saudi cities: Abha, Albaha and Taif.

Emirates is also title sponsor of the FA Cup in England and supports the UAE Pro League and the Asian Football Confederation.

The airline, which operates 67 weekly flights in Saudi Arabia, agreed last month to sponsor Etoile Sportive du Sahel. The Tunisian sports club has football, basketball, volleyball and handball teams.

Emirates is already a shirt sponsor for major European football clubs such as AC Milan, Real Madrid, Benfica, Arsenal and Olympique Lyonnaise.