DUBAI, 12 November 2021 – Granit Xhaka and Ben White from English Premier League football club Arsenal visited Expo 2020 Dubai today (12 November) to meet fans and tour the site, as part of Arsenal’s partnerships with Expo 2020, announced last month, and Emirates.
As part of the partnership with Expo 2020, Arsenal first-team players will be producing unique content to showcase the fantastic events and opportunities that Expo 2020 has to offer. Expo also has a significant presence at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium in London on match days through advertising on LED perimeter boards, as well as exposure to the club’s global fan base through an extensive range of digital rights.
Between visiting the Emirates Pavilion, the Garden in the Sky observation tower and the Expo 2020 Water Feature, Arsenal midfielder and Switzerland captain Xhaka, and Arsenal and England defender White welcomed fans, including members of the Arsenal UAE, the official Supporters Club in the UAE, for a question-and-answer session.
Can you explain what you’ve been doing here today at Expo 2020?
Ben White: We’ve done quite a lot. We’ve been here all day. [In the Emirates Pavilion] we’ve been looking at the logistics of the aircraft, how they’re built… I made my own plane, which was very exciting. It didn’t look great! But we’ve had a really good day… we just did a Q&A and met some fans.
Granit Xhaka: It’s been a great experience, first time here, to see all the people, to see great stuff for Emirates [Pavilion] as well. Yeah, [I’m] happy I had this experience.
Arsenal have a large global following – is it good to meet the club’s fans around the world on visits such as this?
White: Yeah, it’s been really good to come out here and see fans who we wouldn’t normally see. The last year’s not been great for everyone, so it’s been nice to come here and see everyone.
Xhaka: Yeah, very surprised. A lot of people were here… we see how much support we have in the whole world. Thanks to the supporters. We’re trying to give them something special as well.
You visited the Emirates Pavilion already and are about to visit Garden in the Sky. What have you made of Expo 2020 so far? What have been your highlights?
White: I think probably the highlight’s been making my own plane, to be fair! Me and Granit had a little competition to see whose looked the nicest. But I’m really looking forward to seeing [the rest of Expo].
Xhaka: It’s the first time I’ve been here… it’s a great experience.
One of Expo 2020’s aims is to create a better future, an aim that it shares with footballers such as Marcus Rashford who have worked on social projects outside of football. How do you think football can make the world a better place?
White: Definitely with the status of some of these players, and the following that they have on social media, [they] can definitely influence people in the right way. And obviously here today, I’ve seen a lot of different things that I’ve never seen before, trying to help this planet.
Ben, how has your first season with Arsenal been so far? And what are your hopes for the rest of the season?
White: Yeah, the first season’s been really good. We’re very early in the season, but we’re doing well at the moment, and hopefully the sky’s the limit for us.
Granit, what are your hopes for the rest of the season with Arsenal?
Xhaka: We are doing very good at the moment. We’re in good shape and we are trying to keep that up until the [end of the] season. Of course, we want to be back in the [UEFA] Champions League – but for that, we need some improvements.
What do you think is required to make those improvements?
Xhaka: You have to think day by day, game by game, and train hard, and the results will come automatically.
Your respective countries, England and Switzerland, are both playing in World Cup 2022 qualifiers this weekend. Are you’re hoping to be back in this part of the world for the World Cup next year?
White: Yeah, let’s hope so. That’s the aim – we’ll see.
Granit: Yeah [Switzerland] play tonight against Italy, a big game. It’s a shame I can’t be there. Of course, everyone wants to be in the World Cup, and hopefully, we can get there.