Real Madrid to build UAE island resort
They are currently leading the Spanish La Liga football league, just ahead of rivals Barcelona, but that's not enough for Real Madrid.
The club is looking to conquer the hospitality market with a huge sport-friendly resort island in Ras al-Khaimah, one of the seven states of the United Arab Emirates.
Known for its marketing acumen off the pitch as well as nimble skills on it -- Real has been the world's richest soccer club for many years -- the resort will make use of the Real Madrid name and image to attract sports fans on holiday in the Middle East.
The 50-hectare artificial island will feature sport training facilities as well as a 10,000-seat stadium -- the world's first stadium that offers views of the sea, according to the club.
There will also be a marina, a Real Madrid CF museum, luxury hotels, a residential area and an amusement park. It is expected to open in January 2015.
"Real Madrid Resort Island will be a sports touristic complex of the highest level, covering 50 hectares in which tourism and sport will seduce millions of people in search of quality leisurely activities," said the club's president Florentino Perez in a press conference earlier this month.
Already US$1 billion has been plunged into the project, but Asia and the Middle East are markets that offer significant potential to big Western sports brands looking to cash in on the growing numbers of cash-rich travelers in these regions.
"This is a decisive and strategic step that will enhance the strength of this institution in the Middle East and Asia, a key region in which the passion for this club has been apparent," Perez said.
The club will be working with Ras Al-Khaimah Investment Authority and the Marjan Island Football club which first presented the idea.
It is pioneering the concept of "sportainment" in a strategic location, claims the Marta Santisteban Lopez in Real Madrid's marketing department.
Information was not available on how exactly Real Madrid's logos and player images will be used in the resort. But we're pretty sure devoted fans would love to sip an "Cristiano Ronaldo" cocktail on a Real Madrid print sun lounger.