Dubai Buys Spanish Soccer Club

Gulf investors have bought for the second time in a year a Spanish soccer club.

Kaiser Rafiq, a partner and managing director of the Dubai-based Royal Emirates Group of Companies, declined to identify the club, but said the acquisition involved a $90 million investment.

Taking a leaf out of Abu Dhabi and Qatar’s successful use of European soccer acquisitions to build their brand, position themselves as global players and leverage opportunities, Rafiq said the investment would help promote Dubai.

Once a regional leader in employing bold investments, mind-boggling mega projects and an aggressive public relations campaign to create a global brand, Dubai has since seen its image and credibility tarnished by its financial collapse in 2008 that forced Abu Dhabi to bail it out. The acquisition of the Spanish club is Dubai’s first major acquisition since the financial crisis.

The acquisition follows the purchase in June of Spain’s Malaga FC by a Qatari investor, Abu Dhabi’s takeover in 2008 of Manchester City and the awarding in December by world soccer body FIFA of the hosting of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.


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