Just over halfway through a six-year title sponsorship deal with the Saudi Pro League, now known simply as ‘Dawry Jameel’, Abdul Latif Jameel is continuing to find new ways to leverage the partnership for the benefit of both its business and wider Saudi society.
From job creation programs that invest in Saudi’s young population through to initiatives that involve underprivileged children, Dawry Jameel (Jameel League in Arabic) is much more than simply a commercial arrangement.
Martin Copus, Head of Sponsorship at Abdul Latif Jameel, said: “The sponsorship is one form of giving back to society, of giving back to Saudi football and indeed to Saudi Arabia.”
“Football is the biggest form of entertainment in Saudi Arabia. Major clubs in Europe and Latin America are hardly short of passion and emotion, but it’s just as big, if not bigger here for the leading clubs. The game is developing every year, and this year we’ve seen some surprising results going against the big teams, so it is an exciting time to be involved.”
Football stirs emotions and captures attention unlike anything else. It is the world’s largest sport and its dominance in Saudi Arabia is also well established, where it is supported by members of the Royal family.
It has been played on a National League basis in Saudi Arabia since the 1970s. Fans are passionate about their teams and the biggest games – known locally as ‘classicos’ and ‘derbies’ – can attract crowds of up to 60,000.
Even with these large crowds, there is still substantial scope to develop the impact of football in Saudi Arabia, through marketing, merchandising and partnerships. That potential is outlined by a promotional film for the new season, titled ‘Giants Of Football’ created by the League team, which has been viewed over three million times – with over 14 million impressions – on social media.
For Abdul Latif Jameel, however, the focus is much broader.
“Dawry Jameel is an opportunity to bring people together, to entertain, to engage and to contribute to the on-going development of Saudi society,” says Copus.
Through Bab Rizq Jameel – the job opportunities creation arm of Community Jameel – for example, young Saudis can find work such as in-stadium snack sellers at matches. “Bab Rizq Jameel has created 3,500 stadium jobs since our sponsorship began,” says Copus. “We also have a program with Saudi orphans who are involved as player escorts, and we recently required our events agencies to include Bab Rizq Jameel employees in the field crew for any on-field activities we run.”
In terms of its commercial possibilities, Dawry Jameel is uniquely placed to reach a large, passionate, tech-savvy young audience. And with talk about the possible privatization of clubs filtering across the country, there could be still further opportunities to leverage the title sponsorship in the future.
“Through Dawry Jameel, our goal is to create programs and events that surprise, entertain and reward fans for spending time with us,” says Copus. “In May 2016, when Jeddah-based club Al-Ahli won the title for the first time in 32 years, we had six different business units advertising and running initiatives around their programs – including Abdul Latif Jameel Finance, and Abdul Latif Jameel Investments which has just taken on the FedEx Express brand in Saudi Arabia. We’ve come a long way in a relatively short space of time – and there’s still much more to be achieved, not least in leveraging the league sponsorship into sales.”
Saudi football facts
Current champions: Al-Ahli (Jeddah)
Most title wins (13): Al-Hilal (Riyadh)
Star player: Omar Al Somah (Al-Ahli)