Desert trek over for Irish Open title sponsorship?

Rory McIlroy was to play Augusta National with New England Patriots' star Tom Brady this week Via Facebook/RoryMcIlroy

The Irish Open will have a title sponsor this year for the first time since 2010 and while it's initially only for one-year, Rory McIlroy's Midas touch may prove irresistible.

While the identity of the new backer will not be revealed until later today at Royal County Down, it's understood to be an international brand with interests in Ireland. 

Whoever that might be, it makes perfect. sense. After all, McIlroy is a major brand as evidenced by his long-standing connections to the business world in cash rich United Arab Emirates.

The 2009 Dubai Desert Classic his first professional win and he spends part of his off-season there, preparing for his first event of the year in Abu Dhabi.

With companies such as Dubai Duty Free having such a close connection with Ireland — they sponsor the Irish Derby at the Curragh — a link to the Irish market and McIlroy might make sense for the European Tour.

That Golf in Dubai has registered the domain name is probably nothing more than a co-incidence but it was certainly interesting to see Dubai Duty Free's Executive Vice Chairman, Colm McLoughlin, give the keynote speech in the first Arab-Irish Business Forum at the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham in Dublin on Wednesday.

Rory McIlroy with Dubai Duty Free's Executive Vice Chairman, Colm McLoughlin (third from left), in Dubai earlier this year.

Sponsored by An Bord Bia and Emirates Airlines, another international company with a big presence in the Irish market, Mr McLoughlin has helped Ireland leave a massive footprint in the UAE.

The Saudi Gazette reported that "over 450 indigenous Irish companies currently operate in the Gulf region including Jones Engineering, Glen Dimplex, Glanbia, PM Group, Glenbeigh Records Management, Kerry Group, Chanelle Pharmaceuticals and Byrne Looby."

The value of the Arab world to Irish business grew by 16 percent last year and was valued at €4 billion for goods and services and this figure is expected to grow to €6 billion by 2020.

Whether or not the new Irish Open sponsor decides to remain on board in 2016 and beyond is another matter. But as Joe Geoghegan, chief executive of the Arab-Irish Chamber pointed out when blowing Ireland's horn in Dublin this week, we're good at relationships 

“Right throughout the Arab world there is a very positive view of Ireland. In Arab culture, a lot of emphasis is placed on personal relationships, and we tend to get on very well together. That’s a starting point."