By Praveen Menon
DUBAI (Reuters) - Emirates airline <EMIRA.UL>, which has multi-million dollar sponsorship deals with FIFA and Arsenal football club, inked a five-year partnership with Formula One motor racing on Tuesday, beginning this year.
Emirates Chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum, who announced the sponsorship deal alongside Formula One commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone, said it was worth "millions of dollars" but gave no specifics.
"In a five-year agreement, Emirates will become the global partner with Formula One beginning in 2013," Sheikh Ahmed said. "Motor racing fans will see our branding for the first time at the Malaysian Grand Prix (in March)."
The Dubai government-owned carrier also has shirt sponsorship deals with Italy's AC Milan and French club Paris St Germain.
Sheikh Ahmed, the uncle of the ruler of Dubai, said the airline's total sports sponsorship now stands at 1 billion dirhams ($272.25 million) for this year.
In November, Emirates agreed a new $239 million sponsorship deal with Arsenal that extends its shirt partnership with the north London club to the end of the 2018/2019 season. Arsenal's 60,000-seat home will also continue to be known as the Emirates Stadium until 2028. <ID:8MN6FC>
The Dubai carrier is one of a number of Middle Eastern airlines to back major European soccer clubs. Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways sponsors English champions Manchester City, while Barcelona will have the Qatar Airways name on their shirts for next season after long eschewing corporate branding.
Abu Dhabi, the largest emirate in the United Arab Emirates federation, also hosts a Formula One Grand Prix race each November.
($1 = 3.6730 UAE dirhams)
(Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Amran Abocar)
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