Javier Faus (left), FC Barcelona vice-president, and Paul Trowbridge, CEO of United Arab Bank, during the press conference. United Arab Bank announced a Middle East tie-up with FC Barcelona at Central Galleria, Mirdif City Centre. Image Credit: Atiq-Ur-Rehman/Gulf News

Dubai: FC Barcelona vice president Javier Faus stressed the importance of the GCC region to the Spanish club after announcing a three-year partnership with United Arab Bank at Mirdif City Centre on Sunday.

The agreement with the Sharjah-based bank — who recently posted record half-year profits of Dh260 million, representing a 35 per cent year-on-year increase — follows similar Barcelona Middle East tie-ups with telecommunications firm Etisalat and Qatar Airways.

As an official partner of Barcelona, United Arab Bank will create a range of customised Barca-themed products and offers, starting with a prize draw for 14 winners to watch the team play at the Nou Camp.

Faus said: “This region is very important for us and we have very strong relations throughout the GCC. We look to continue to be very strong in this country.

“We live in a globalised world and we need to keep increasing revenue. We cannot expect to be the best team in the world without attracting the best players and we need to get outside our borders and seek finances for all these expenses.”

United Arab Bank CEO Paul Trowbridge described the undisclosed deal as “priceless”. He said: “We are not prepared to put a price on the contract but this is obviously something we believe is an important part of our marketing push for the next few years. We want to attract as many new customers — and as many opportunities for our existing customers — as possible.

“We hope to leverage off one another for loyal fans and customers alike to have the opportunity to share in the success of club and bank.”

Barcelona boast one of the biggest fanbases in world football with an estimated 260 million followers, and Faus stressed that their economic strategies reflect that, despite their heavy recent presence in the GCC.

“It’s not true that we are only concentrating on this region,” said Faus. “We also went to Malaysia and Thailand in the summer. We are tackling all markets, not only the Middle East — we’ve just signed a large deal with a Chinese company, so we are a global player in this arena.

“We are already partnered in the region with Qatar Airways and Etisalat, but we have many more partnerships worldwide so there is no need for fans to be concerned.”

Of their rivalry with fellow Spanish club Real Madrid, who are sponsored by Emirates airline, Faus said: “There are very few brands worldwide that compete with us in terms of recognition and we fight on all fronts. One front is on the field and the other front is to increase revenue to have the best available players. We are a worldwide brand and we have to get outside of Europe to continue to grow the brand worldwide.”