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Emirates Inks New Partnership With the NBA

Emirates Airline announces strategic partnership with the NBA

Emirates aircraft in Dubai (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Hisham Qadri)

For quite some time now passengers on Emirates flights were able to watch National Basketball Association (NBA) games live on the airline’s seat back entertainment systems. However, any agreements the NBA and Emirates had did not extend beyond streaming until now.

On Thursday, Emirates and the NBA are announcing the start of a comprehensive partnership that will further the Emirates brand across the NBA and vice versa. This marketing partnership now names Emirates as the official global airline partner of the NBA with the airline being the inaugural partner at the NBA Cup, previously known as the NBA In-Season Tournament.

The airline will have its branding present at a variety of games across the season and Emirates staff will be present at certain games to engage sports fans similar to the airline’s sponsorships at the U.S. Open tennis tournament where flight attendants often come out between games with giveaways for the crowd. Fans will also be able to watch expanded NBA content on the Emirates inflight entertainment system. This will include documentaries, player profiles, interviews, and more.

Furthermore, as the NBA’s global footprint expands, Emirates will be the global airline partner for various pre-season and regular-season NBA Global games. The Global games had come to a halt due to the pandemic but have recently returned. Most recently the Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks faced off in Mexico City this past November along with the Brooklyn Nets and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Paris this past January. Preseason games were held in Abu Dhabi at the Etihad Arena.

Interest from Sovereign Wealth Funds

This sponsorship comes as the NBA’s popularity in the UAE and the region overall grows. The preseason games in Abu Dhabi have been successful and many sovereign wealth funds in the region have expressed interest in investing in various NBA teams.

Last year NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum announced that it would be allowing foreign entities to purchase minority stakes in NBA franchises. In June 2023, the Qatar Investment Authority purchased a five percent stake in the parent company of the Washington Wizards. The UAE and Saudia Arabia have also expressed interest in various franchises within the association.

Over the past few years, global sports have gained the interest of the massive sovereign wealth funds. Several Middle Eastern countries have made significant investments in soccer to the point that some teams are entirely owned by Middle Eastern entities.

The UFC has posted events in the UAE and tennis titans like Novak Djokovic have played in Saudia Arabia. The golf space got much more interesting with the launch of LIV Golf by Saudi Arabia, initially a direct competitor to the PGA League in the U.S. The Saudis are also now the lone bidder left for the next FIFA World Cup, which was most recently held in Qatar.

Hemal Gosai


  • Hemal Gosai

    Hemal took his first flight at four years old and has been an avgeek since then. When he isn't working as an analyst he's frequently found outside watching planes fly overhead or flying in them. His favorite plane is the 747-8i which Lufthansa thankfully flies to EWR allowing for some great spotting. He firmly believes that the best way to fly between JFK and BOS is via DFW and is always willing to go for that extra elite qualifying mile.

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