The UAE Abu Dhabi team has announced airline Emirates as a new sponsor, with the team set to be known as UAE Team Emirates from now on.
The Emirates slogan appears on the chest of the jersey, with the team colours remaining the green, white, black and red of the UAE flag.
The new sponsor was presented at a press conference close to the Yas Marina –the headquarters for the Abu Dhabi Tour that begins on Thursday. The four-day race is part of the 2017 WorldTour calendar.
UAE Team Emirates has selected a strong team for the Abu Dhabi Tour, with Rui Costa, Louis Meintjes, Ben Swift, Diego Ulissi and Andrea Guardini all part of the seven-rider squad.
"We aim to be a top-three team within three years," Matar Suhail Al Yabhouni Al Dhaheri, the team president said during the presentation. He was sat alongside team manager Giuseppe Saronni and team promoter Mauro Gianni, who helped secure the sponsorship in the Middle East after plans for a Chinese backer fell through late last year.
"We are looking to be in the top 10 team, go step by step, look for top 10, then the year after more like top five. We're aiming, slowly but surely, to be top-three next in the three years. I'm confident in my management and riders to reach that in three years."
Emirates sponsors a wide range of sports including leading football teams in Europe, golf tournaments and horse races. Now it has opted to sponsor a WorldTour team as cycling continues to grow and gain more attention in the UAE.
Sheikh Majid Al Mualla - the divisional senior vice president of commercial operations at Fly Emirates said: "For us, it's an opportunity. Emirates has always been involved in sport, however, in the last two years, cycling has seen tremendous growth, in terms of fans and people watching it here. Here in the UAE, I think almost every house has a bike in it. We always select the best and we feel the team is the best to associate ourselves with. It's a huge opportunity to present United Arab Emirates as a country."
"We always like to connect people to each other. We have a lifestyle with our brand – we create a lot of things we hope the passenger, and now the fans, get excited about. For us the teamwork, the tremendous effort cyclists put in, as well as the skill, that's very important for us."