Skift Take

Dubai shakes hands with one of Spain's most famous football clubs less than a day after the country is tipped to host the 2030 World Cup.

Dubai’s tourism corporation has just signed a long-term collaboration with Spanish football club Real Madrid. The entrepreneurial emirate linked with the team the day after it was announced that Spain will be one of the joint-hosts for the 2030 FIFA World Cup.

The release from Dubai’s Media Office doesn’t provide many details into the deal, stating it will bring: “activations, special fan moments and unique experiences for Dubai and Real Madrid fans.” It does, however, mention the intention to bring “a taste of Dubai to Santiago Bernabéu.”

Real Madrid home stadium Santiago Bernabéu swept across Spanish media yesterday after a local paper reported it would likely be the location of the 2030 FIFA World Cup final.

FIFA claims that last year’s World Cup finals in Doha were watched by 1.5 billion people. Even the smallest mention, image, or “taste” of Dubai at the 2030 finals would be an immense marketing opportunity.

Dubai benefitted from nearby Qatar’s World Cup last year. The emirate ran daily shuttle flights to Doha, set up numerous fan zones, and even turned its Expo 2020 site into a temporary sports zone, complete with shisha and alcohol.

Elsewhere in the Gulf, Saudi has said it will bid to host the 2034 World Cup.

Dubai’s Real Madrid Deal

Launching this October, the partnership encompasses both Real Madrid’s First Men and Women Football Teams.

Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Tourism, commented: “This game-changing collaboration between Dubai and the greatest club in the world is built upon a shared vision and values, where every achievement serves as motivation to pursue new heights. With our aim to consolidate Dubai’s position among the top three global cities, this strategic alliance will harness the strengths of a leading destination and the world’s most celebrated team, to reaffirm Dubai globally as the best city to visit, live, and work in.”

It is not the first deal between the two. In November 2022, the emirate announced a Real Madrid theme park at the Dubai Parks and Resorts development towards capital city Abu Dhabi.

The theme park is due to be inaugurated in the fourth quarter of this year. It will feature a number of Real Madrid-related attractions, such as a museum, amusement rides and games, and outlets selling memorabilia.

Dating even further back, Ras Al Khaimah had its own tourism plans with Real Madrid in 2012. Well before the announcement of the Wynn casino, which has caused a development frenzy, the emirate’s Al Marjan Island planned to spend $1 billion on a Real Madrid-themed mega-resort.

“When the Real Madrid Resort Island opens its gates, visitors will become part of the legend of this eternal and universal club,” said Real Madrid president Florentino Perez at the time. “We fix our name and strength to a unique location, a strategic meeting place and a project of unprecedented dimension located less than four hours’ flight away from two billion people.”

It was expected to house a museum, shopping spaces and some 450 rooms. The project, however, never came to fruition.


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Tags: Dubai Tourism, sports tourism, Tourism news, travel news

Photo credit: Issam Kazim and Florentino Perez

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