The target market for Real Madrid’s new theme-park and resort venture in the Persian Gulf is not the tens of thousands of Spanish fans who fill the club’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium and, together with tens of thousands of Catalan rivals, turn their team’s frequent showdowns with arch-rivals Barcelona into a passionate ritual reenactment of the Spanish Civil War. Instead, the billion-dollar Real Madrid theme-park and beach resort in the tiny Gulf Emirate of Ras al-Khaimah appears to be aimed predominantly well-to-do Asian and Arab fans of more recent vintage. Barca may dominate in head to head meetings, these days, but by the measure of global revenues that is increasingly fundamental to a football club’s well-being, Real has a comfortable lead.
Real on Thursday announced the venture with a slick marketing video, from which it’s not exactly clear what the million punters they expect in its first year will get for their lucre: There’ll be a Real Madrid museum — Christiano Ronaldo’s sweat-stained shirt, anyone? Perhaps a diorama depicting coach Jose Mourinho gouging a Barcelona coach’s eye? There’ll also be holographic football game, and a stadium open to the sea (don’t expect to see Real Madrid playing there, of course, except, perhaps, during their pre-season warm ups). And, of course, a yacht basin shaped as the Real Madrid logo. For the rest, it appears to be garden variety gulf resort, with marina, yacht club, beaches and expensive digs.
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