- July 20, 2023
On Monday, July 17, Ambassador Mathilde Mukantabana together with ‘Visit Rwanda’ hosted Arsenal Football (soccer) Club legends, Ray Parlour and Lauren Bisan-Étamé Mayer at the Embassy of Rwanda in Washington D.C,
The legends shared their firsthand account of their incredible experiences in Rwanda and some of their greatest moments at Arsenal.
The ‘Afternoon with Arsenal & Rwanda’ cocktail reception, organized on the sidelines of Arsenal’s pre-season tour in the USA and the 20-year anniversary celebrations of the Invincibles season, showcased the ground-breaking partnership between Visit Rwanda and the Premier League football club and Rwanda’s touristic offerings. The United States remains Rwanda’s top source market for visitors.
Ambassador Mukantabana noted: “We are delighted to have Arsenal, our partners, with us here in the United States, particularly the legends who graced us with their presence at the Embassy of Rwanda today. It was a special occasion as they personally shared their firsthand account of Rwanda’ story—a nation renowned for its vibrant tourism industry, remarkable economic progress in Africa, and an unyielding dedication to ensuring safety. This is further exemplified by the increasing number of Americans who choose to visit and invest in Rwanda.”
Recounting to the audience their remarkable experience in Rwanda, during a fireside chat facilitated by Ambassador Mukantabana, Ray Parlour expressed his awe at the breathtaking scenery of Rwanda, which he described as ‘stunning’. He emphasized that Rwanda, often referred to as the “country of 1000 hills,” is “just a beautiful place. If you haven’t been there, I guarantee you would always go back there.”
Lauren spoke about the abundance of attractions and experiences Rwanda has to offer including trekking mountains, and observing gorillas “It’s a country that you have to visit and see every single year- if you can” he said.
In her welcome remark, Ms. Setti Solomon, the commercial attaché at the Embassy of Rwanda in Washington D.C., highlighted the findings of a survey conducted by Arsenal, stating that prior to the partnership, 71% of Arsenal fans worldwide did not perceive Rwanda as a tourist destination. “But at the end of the 1st year of the partnership, 50% of Arsenal fans would consider Rwanda as a destination to visit. Last season, this number was up by 11%.” She explained.
The event also included a Q&A session, a Rwandan traditional dance performance, a screening of videos of the legends in Rwanda, and a special presentation of the Invincibles trophy. Notably, attendees had an opportunity to interact and pause for a picture with the legends.
Former Arsenal and Cameroon International right-back, Lauren, was the first Arsenal legend, alongside Alex Scott MBE, to visit Rwanda after the announcement of the Visit Rwanda-Arsenal partnership in 2018, where both stars named a baby mountain gorilla at the Kwita Izina Gorilla Naming Ceremony. Ray Parlour visited Rwanda in 2022 with Arsenal legend and fellow Invincible, Robert Pires, and their families.
Arsenal engaged in the preseason tour, squaring off against the MLS all-stars on Wednesday in an impressive 5-0 victory. They are set to take on the football clubs of Manchester United and Barcelona.
Arsenal “Invincibles” made history by winning the English Premier League title in the 2003-2004 season without a single league defeat, earning them their iconic nickname.