Behind the scenes of Sobha’s sponsorship deal with Arsenal

It seems a perfect match as both rise up the ranks in performance and results, says Campaign editor Justin Harper

When Sobha Realty announced it was becoming a sponsor of Arsenal FC, it was a real statement of intent.

The North London team is one of the top 20 biggest football clubs in the world. While sports sponsorship is hardly new, for the real estate developer it was a sign that it had big ambitions. Global ambitions.

While Sobha is making a name for itself in the UAE, a market dominated by some heavyweight property developers, it also has its eyes on a bigger stage.

After all, you don’t see Emaar or DAMAC on football shirts in the English Premier League.

It is a four-year deal and sees Sobha join another local name (Emirates) on the famous jerseys of Arsenal.

Alongside the shirt placement, the deal involves the luxury property developer putting its name to Arsenal’s training ground, (the Sobha Realty Training Centre) in the first such sponsorship deal seen in the Premier League.

Campaign Middle East editor Justin Harper caught up with Sobha Realty’s PR and marketing team recently in London, on a tour of its swanky Park Lane showroom, Arsenal’s training ground and its Emirates stadium.

He asked Ashish Parakh, Chief Marketing Officer of Sobha Realty, how it chose the club among the 20 available in England’s top tier, a league watched by a cumulative audience of more than 1 billion people.

“Arsenal is a prestigious football club, boasting an exemplary legacy spanning decades and a prodigious fan base, which aligns with Sobha’s stature as a global brand committed to excellence,” he said.

“Moreover, Sobha Realty’s meteoric rise to success from humble origins echoes in Arsenal’s inception as an ammunition workers’ team and its subsequent rise to fame.”

Team game

Parakh draws many similarities between the football club and the property developer. “Arsenal is underpinned by the ethos of precision, attention to detail, and an unwavering commitment to excellence on the field.”

A phrase that crops up frequently is ‘the art of detail’ and is one of Sobha’s guiding principles.

While Arsenal has finished the last two seasons in second place, behind a dominant Manchester City, the club has enjoyed greatly improved results, high-quality football and widespread praise for its style of play.

The four-year sponsorship deal will not only see increased visibility but also exclusive brand opportunities.

Ashish Parakh, Chief Marketing Officer of Sobha Realty

“We aim to secure unique special edition products, and advertising campaigns for high-profile matches and events. The partnership positions Sobha Realty front and centre, through integration across Arsenal’s marketing platforms such as digital media, matchday programmes and stadium advertising,” added Parakh.

 Long-term vision

Sobha’s strategic alliance with the club is pillared on backward integration, passion for perfection, and nuanced attention to detail, Parakh said, as it aims to fulfil the joint goals of achieving global reach, establishing a world-class training centre, and implementing joint CSR initiatives.

“Arsenal commands an exceptional international presence, leveraging which Sobha can consolidate its global identity while connecting with an eclectic array of audiences from around the world.

“The collaboration can elevate Sobha Realty’s stature as a global brand symbolising opulence, impeccable quality, and innovation.”

Arsenal legend Ray Parlour gives Campaign’s editor Justin Harper a tour around the training ground

The Sobha Realty Training Centre is a state-of-the-art training hub that aims to empower talented sportsmen and women by providing cutting-edge training resources, and fostering a new generation of world-class athletes.

Community focus

Alongside global ambitions, Sobha is positioning itself as a company that likes to give back to the communities it is building neighbourhoods in.

Earlier this year, it signed an agreement to establish a AED 400 million funded university in Dubai as part of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Global Initiatives (MBRGI).

The agreement forms part of the Mothers’ Endowment campaign, launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, by establishing an AED1 billion endowment fund to support the education of millions around the world.

PNC Menon, Founder and Chairman of Sobha Realty, has spoken of the company’s “keenness to support charity and humanitarian initiatives launched by the UAE to help millions around the world.”

Even the Sobha Realty Training Ground has a community theme to it, reaching out to underprivileged sections of society, and driving positive change through philanthropic ventures.

Building better homes and communities – these are the sorts of companies this region needs.