MADRID: The club crest of Real Madrid will be altered under a new retail partnership agreed by the world and European champions for the Middle East market.

United Arab Emirates-based retail group Marka has announced it has been granted exclusive rights to manufacture, distribute and sell Real Madrid products in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman.

The six countries are all Muslim-majority and Real Madrid apparel sold in the nations will not feature the traditional Christian cross on the club crest. Marka vice-chairman Khaled al-Mheiri told the Reuters news agency that Real has two versions of the crest for the Middle East market and that Marka would use the one without the Christian cross due to cultural sensitivities.

“We have to be sensitive towards other parts of the Gulf that are quite sensitive to products that hold the cross,” said Al-Mheiri, who owns a Real Madrid cafe in Dubai.

Marka’s deal does not cover replica jerseys, which are sold in Dubai featuring the cross. Real Madrid has previously removed the cross from its crest in a commercial context. The club undertook the move in 2014 when it was sponsored by the National Bank of Abu Dhabi.