Comeback for Team Dubai

Having paid up nearly US$10 million to sponsor the McLaren Mercedes Formula One team this season, I hear executives at Emirates Airline have got the Grand Prix bug again.

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By  Ben Dawson Published  May 21, 2006

|~||~||~|Having paid up nearly US$10 million to sponsor the McLaren Mercedes Formula One team this season, I hear executives at Emirates Airline have got the Grand Prix bug again. There has been little for them to cheer about on the race track, given McLaren’s hugely disappointing season so far. However, having been guests of honour at three of this season’s races, the Emirates executives are now re-examining their original plans to launch a separate Formula One team. You may recall that around two years ago, amidst great fan fare, Team Dubai was launched. This was to be Dubai’s own entry into the sport, effectively funded by the Dubai government. Total costs were put in the region of US$300 million, and this season should have been the first for Team Dubai. Of course, after a few months of detailed research, the whole project was quietly shelved. “It just seem to cost a lot of money and nobody was quiet sure what we would get out of it,” says one former member of the Team Dubai project. This year however, some members of the original Team Dubai set up have been more than impressed with the exposure gained by the McLaren deal. I understand they are now re-calculating the costs of starting Dubai’s own F1 team, and reckon they could still be on the grid by 2008. One of their key proposals involves vastly reducing the total cost of entering the sport. One insider explains: "The problem last time was the cost just kept on rising, whichever way you did the numbers. If we can get into some kind of joint venture with a team, rather like Benetton did with Renault many years ago, then I think there is a chance this could succeed." Time will tell, but I have feeling this plan will get as far as the last one. WORK SHY Next time you are close to the Palm Jumeirah, try and get a look at the masses of construction work going on around the infrastructure. The closer you look, you might find that, erm, very little is happening in some parts of the Palm. I am told that a dispute with insurers has brought work to a halt in some parts. CREDIT DUE Few people can argue with the success of food retailer Spinneys in the Middle East. And now, I hear, the company is planning to cash in on its brand success. Executives are said to be considering launching the first ever Spinneys credit card, which will reward users with extra points each time they make a purchase. Other retailers, including furniture giant The One, are also looking at similar plans. WHAT’S THE SCORE? To the launch of 02 in Dubai last week, and the mobile phone operator was more than happy to boast of its association with Arsenal Football Club. “We are their key sponsors, and on Tuesday the whole world will see that when Arsenal take on Barcelona in the Champions League Final,” said a spokesman. The game was of course on Wednesday. Thankfully, Wednesday also marked the end of O2’s shirt sponsorship deal with the club. Emirates Airline takes over from now. LEAVING ON A JET PLANE Talking of the game, my spies at ABN Amro’s offices in Dubai tell me that a record 18 members of staff all called in sick on Wednesday and Thursday last week. I am sure the rumours that many of them were seen boarding a plane to Paris on Wednesday morning (where the game was held) are completely untrue. It is, I am assured, "a case of total coincidence."||**||

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