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The official Aston Villa Supporters Club of Dubai – The Dubai Lions hosted a regional meet-up during the Wigan in the 2018/2019 season. The Dubai supporters club offered to host the meet-up during the AFC Asian Cup; the Asian equivalent to the European Championships - currently taking place in the United Arab Emirates. The event took place at the new home of The Dubai Lions at the Rose & Crown pub at Al Habtoor City in the heart of Dubai and attracted Villa fans from all-over; including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Egypt, South Africa, and Somalia. The gathered lions took the chance to soak up the atmosphere of the Asian country competition before the meetup and set about planning a unification of their individual supporters’ clubs to become The Arab Lions, with full support from the already well-established Dubai Lions group who remain independent. With added direction from huge Villa fan and Saudi Royal Family member, His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz bin Faisal bin Abdulmajeed Al-Saud, The Arab Lions will now look to grow at the same exponential rate as their Dubai-based counterparts. Whilst the Dubai Lions mostly feature expatriate Villa fans from the UK, The Arab Lions are mostly formed from Gulf born supporters and during the Wigan game, these Middle-Eastern fans took the opportunity to regale tales of their attraction to The Villans from their unlikely locations:

Hassan Abdul Mahdi Elkhafagi from Baghdad, Iraq: “I was born into a Villa supporting home when my Father and Uncle followed the First Division title success under Ron Saunders and the subsequent European Cup victory.  Now, I love everything about Villa and the fans are so amazing and welcoming – it's like one big family. When you love a football club, it's such an integral part of your life, I’d even go as far as to say that it defines who you are. Aston Villa means so much to me.”

Mohammad Mahdi Alalami from Amman, Jordan: “I’ve followed Aston Villa since 2002 because of my all-time favourite Arab player - Mustapha Hadji before meeting another villa fan and starting to watch games regularly. It didn’t take long before Villa was my favourite club in the world.”

Antony Amged Ramzy from Alexandria, Egypt: “My love for Aston Villa began in 2013 when they were beaten by Manchester United but watching such passion from the Villa fans, despite a tough game, was eye-catching. I joined the villa family that day.”

Hassan Adil from Baghdad, Iraq: “I watched the 3-1 victory in the opening game of the 2013/2014 season against Arsenal and I was hooked. I’ve been a big fan ever since.”

HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Faisal Al-Saud from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: “You don’t choose Aston Villa, Aston Villa chooses you.”

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