For Commercial Bank of Qatar, the title sponsor of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters tournament for the last seven years, partnering with the European Tour's annual event in Qatar is a particularly valuable, strategic investment for a number of reasons.
Internationally, the value of sports sponsorship continues to rise. Within the GCC, and Qatar in particular, governments are investing in sport as a pillar of economic growth and social activity. Golf is a climatic and socioeconomic fit for the region. Plus, the established presence of the European Tour means that golf excels in the GCC in its offering of live, professional, competitive events.
"The Commercial Bank Qatar Masters has become one of the biggest events on Qatar's calendar, because it is true world-class sport," said Qatar Golf Association (QGA) President Hassan Al Nuaimi. "Major winners and top-ten-ranked golfers come here and compete with determination, because it is a European Tour event that has major ramifications for their season. For us in Qatar, that means we can consistently stage an event providing on-course action, fantastic spectator facilities and therefore media coverage, which naturally attracts sponsor brands and corporate hospitality guests alike."
Organised by the QGA, the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC), Doha Golf Club and Commercial Bank of Qatar, the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters is one of four events in the Gulf on the European Tour calendar for 2013. Sponsor support is considered very important for golf tournaments, and each of the four benefits from major corporate title sponsorship.
'The Desert Swing' - three consecutive tournaments in the GCC - is comprised of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship (17-20 January 2013), follow by the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters (23-26 January 2013) and the Omega Dubai Desert Classic (31 January - 3 February 2013). At the end of the year, the European Tour season will culminate in November's DP World Tour Championship, back in Dubai.
The European Tour Productions estimates the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters' global media value at $91 million. Rolex, Avis, BMW, Xerox and ExxonMobil are additional international brands that have recognized the value of sponsoring the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters and come aboard.
Partnerships like these are mutually beneficial, as research shows that exposure gained from golf sponsorship increases awareness, favourability, sales consideration and loyalty to the brand. Sponsorship executives frequently use 3:1 - media valuation to spend - as a benchmark ratio for expected return on investment.
"There is a large overlap between the audience that tunes in to the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters and our customers and potential customers," said Andrew Stevens, Group CEO at Commercial Bank of Qatar. "Serving as the title sponsor of such a popular, wide-reaching event holds tremendous value."
Besides the reach and credibility of the European Tour, golf tournaments in the Gulf are an attractive corporate-investment proposition because they capitalize on the area's economic growth and golf-friendly climate.
A 2011 Golf Benchmark report found that golf courses in GCC countries have the highest average revenue achieved amongst Europe, the Middle East and African regions.
It also notes that "the future of golf in the GCC still provides plenty of space for growth," due to the backing it receives from organizations like the Qatar Golf Association.
Plus while the global economic uncertainty over the past few years has hurt many travel-industry sectors, golf tourism has continued to grow worldwide and in the MENA region in particular. For example, according to a 2011 KPMG study of round and revenue trends, 78% of golf courses in the MENA region reported good or excellent business results, and 75% of courses planned additional capital investment in 2012.
Furthermore, in Qatar, sport remains a major focus of the national growth plan, as the country builds toward hosting the 2022 World Cup and potentially an upcoming Olympic Games.
"Sport remains a key platform to give the State of Qatar international exposure, and golf has an important role," said QGA President Hassan Al Nuaimi. "Flagship events such as the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters attract many visitors to the country every year."