National Bank of Abu Dhabi signs deal to link up with Real Madrid

Published September 12th, 2014 - 05:23 GMT

The National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) on Friday signed a three-year agreement to become the exclusive banking partner of Real Madrid in the UAE at the Spanish side’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium.

The deal, which is extendable and could spread to incorporate the entire Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region, sees NBAD become the only bank outside of Spain to issue co-branded Real Madrid credit and debit cards.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez was present at the signing, along with the Real stars Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos and Dani Carvajal.

“Real Madrid today forms a strategic alliance with one of the most prestigious institutions in the world,” Perez said of the deal, the financial terms of which were not revealed. “In the coming three seasons we shall share single passions, challenges and emotions and a set of values and common goals.

“We know this stadium is a special place for many thousands of our fans who show passion for our club in the UAE. And we know very well that every single match our team plays, they experience a lot of excitement there.

“The bond between the UAE and our club is getting stronger and stronger, we recently won our tenth Uefa Champions League thanks to the good wishes of our fans in the UAE and all over the world.

“This agreement enables Real Madrid to win the hearts of Emirati citizens and bring us closer to them. This club belongs to all fans and members and it is part of our vocation to carry on being the best. We have a huge responsibility to preserve the dreams of our millions and millions of followers.”

Alex Thursby, NBAD CEO, said: “We picked this partnership very carefully. We share much in common with Real Madrid. Both NBAD and Real Madrid are premier brands, heritage is the foundation for both organisations and both NBAD and Real Madrid have a history of commitment to excellence. As such we are confident our partnership will support NBAD’s continued commitment to deliver the best products in the market.”

NBAD Real Madrid cardholders will have the opportunity to win trips to see matches, attend training sessions and meet players in Madrid or Abu Dhabi.

Customers will also receive special Real Madrid welcome gifts upon opening an account and get automatic membership to the international ‘Madridista’ fan club, which gives them newsletters from the club and discount offers from other Real Madrid partners.

Meanwhile, reports that NBAD is partnering with the club to provide funding worth $1 billion (Dh3.67 billion) to revive the Real Madrid Resort Island in Ras Al Khaimah were denied by club officials on the sidelines of the signing ceremony.

The project was unveiled in 2012 but put on hold last year, although reports this week suggested that, with NBAD backing, the resort could be open by 2017.

Friday’s announcement preceded Saturday’s Madrid derby between Real and Atletico at the Santiago Bernabeu. The match is a repeat of last season’s Uefa Champions League final in Lisbon, which Real won 4-1 after extra time.

Despite the fact the two rivals’ stadiums are located just 8.5km apart, Los Rojiblancos have sold just 30 tickets out of their away allocation of 250. Their fans are boycotting the game due to the cost of tickets, which start at €70 (Dh330), but a total of 80,000 people are still expected to attend.

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