Karim Benzema on his new celebration, Dubai and Emirati history

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Karim Benzema Dubai
The Real Madrid superstar has opened up on his new trademark move and his strong connection to the United Arab Emirates-based city

During his almost 20 years as a professional footballer, Karim Benzema has had a lot of things to celebrate. There were the four Ligue Un titles between 2004 and 2009 at Lyon, a young striker who became a figurehead. There are the five Champions Leagues won at Real Madrid alongside the trophy cabinets packed with La Ligas and Copa del Reys. Then, most recently, there was the Ballon d’Or. Of course there was. It’s been coming.

In a career stacked with individual and team-led glory, Karim Benzema has had a lot to celebrate.

And now, speaking exclusively to GOAL as part of the Where the World Celebrates campaign, Karim has a brand new way to celebrate things. An iconic celebration for an iconic footballer.

Introducing… The Benzayala.

“The inspiration came from the famous 'Ayala''', Karim told us. “A traditional cultural dance performed by Emiratis as part of special celebrations.”

“To celebrate my involvement with the Where the World Celebrates campaign, the Benzayala is a combination of my surname and this traditional dance, with my own twist to it.”

An important and ancient part of culture in the Emirates, the dance is performed by men and boys at celebrations such as weddings and national holidays, and features performers holding thin bamboo canes and moving to a steady drum beat.

As a reflection of the heritage of Emirati culture, the dance is a symbol of tradition and identity for a region that Benzema holds a lot of respect and love for.

“I love the buzz and energy of Dubai,” Karim responded when asked about his strong connection to the city. “It’s a truly global city where people from all over the world contribute to a positive vibe. There’s nowhere like it.”

“Every time I visit, there is something new to discover - Dubai doesn’t stop innovating and delivering new experiences for its residents and visitors. It doesn’t matter what your interests are - there’s something awesome for you here. I love it here, and my kids love it too.”

In terms of what those experiences might be… Karim let us in on what his perfect day in Dubai looks like.

“My perfect day in Dubai would be chilling by the beach or the desert, some water or land adventure, and recharge with a really good meal. Emirati hospitality is world-class. There is a venue in the heritage district of Al Fahidi called the 'Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding' where you can experience an authentic meal hosted by Emiratis who answer all of your cultural questions. It’s a must-visit. There’s the Museum of the Future too, which gives you a real journey into the future, the natural environment, and new technologies that we can expect. It’s all inside what I think is one of the world’s most beautiful buildings.”

With the biggest football tournament on the planet arriving in the Middle East on Sunday 20th November, the bright and intense footballing spotlight is going to be on the region for the first time in its history.

“This is a huge milestone in the history of football, so it’s really exciting to be part of the action. The Middle East region has very enthusiastic football fans, I can feel it every time I visit. I think the location is strategic to have fans from all over the world joining in the event.”

The World Cup is a genuine festival of football, and has provided the beautiful game with some of its most memorable moments… and celebrations.

Who could forget the Brazilian Bebeto’s ‘rocking the baby’ celebration after scoring against the Netherlands in 1994? Or Roger Milla’s corner flag dance after scoring for Cameroon in 1990?

With the 2022 World Cup starting in under a month’s time, we can expect to see brand-new celebrations added to that list of icons.