EXPO 2020. ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ Dubai Will Dazzle the World

 

Zita Tallat-Kelpšaitė

One year until EXPO 2020, the United Arab Emirates hosted a joyous, colourful and bustling feast.

Posters with ‘1 Year to Go’ invited people to celebrate in all seven of the Emirates.

20:20 on 20 October marked exactly one year until the opening of the world EXPO 2020, which will take place in Dubai.

One year to go

On 20 October, all seven of the Emirates hosted impressive events: more than one hundred performers from 26 countries in various cities at the same time.

The most attention was focused on the feast in Dubai, which featured such celebrities as the US singer, five times Grammy award winner and the best pop music performer of this millennium – Mariah Carey, Bollywood actress and singer from India Shraddha Kapoor, UAE singer and EXPO 2020 ambassador Hussain Al Jassmi, regarded as the best Arabic male singer with more than 730 million of followers on Youtube, and other famous performers. Five UAE musicians, representing various genres of music, were selected to create a special track, dedicated to the celebration – One Year to Go. The group performed the piece for a huge audience of listeners.

The singer Al Jassmi from Sharjah wants to show the UAE culture to the world. ‘That is a great opportunity to reveal and show the potential and talents of the people from this region. I am glad to be able to express my pride in my dear country by telling the world the history of UAE and the exhibition. I can’t wait for Dubai to greet people and cultures from all corners of our planet, coming to host this event, dedicated to make the world a better place.’ said the ambassador of EXPO 2020.

The event, which took place in Burj Park, at the foot of the tallest Burj Khalifa skyscraper in the world, attracted thousands of people, who gathered to begin the countdown until the highest-class world event, which will take place in the Middle East, African and South Asian (MEASA) region for the first time. The sky was lit with impressive fireworks, while the Burj Khalifa featured ‘1 Year to Go’ and ‘The World’s Greatest Show’ in Arabic and English languages. Although the entrance to the event was charged, the tickets were gone long before it began.

Based on the sustainable development idea of EXPO 2020, the organisers introduced a no-plastic-bottle policy in all of the events. All visitors, performers and staff would be provided with free water from biodegradable paper vessels. Visitors were also urged to bring their own reusable bottles. Perhaps following the same intention, all invited guests received gift bags with metal thermo-cups, featuring the paraphernalia of the feast. This initiative comes from the Be Smart cooperation campaign, implemented by EXPO 2020 and Suqia UAE Aid Foundation, to solve the issue of lack of water in the region, protect the seas from plastic, and invest into innovative, sustainable solutions to protect our planet.

The groundbreaking ceremony

The transfer of the Lithuanian plot and the groundbreaking ceremony on 21 October neatly merged with the celebratory events. On Sunday (Sunday in UAE is a business day, while Friday and Saturday – not), the delegation of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, led by Chancellor of the Government Algirdas Stončaitis, participated at the 1 Year to Go event together with other high guests at UAE, while Monday morning begun on the construction site of the EXPO 2020 town in the desert, south of the centre of Dubai, where they symbolically marked the beginning of the construction of the Lithuanian pavilion.

From the Lithuanian side, the ceremony was attended by Algirdas Stončaitis, the Lithuanian Chancellor of the Government, Edminas Bagdonas, Ambassador from the recently-established Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania in the UAE, Romas Jankauskas, Commissioner General of the Lithuanian Pavilion at EXPO 2020 and EXPO Group Chief Advisor of the Ministry of Environment, while the organisers of the event were represented by Najeeb Mohamed Al-Ali, Executive Director Expo Bureau / Deputy Commissioner General of Expo 2020 Dubai, Andre Dourado, Director International Participants at EXPO 2020 and Ali Guliyev, Country Manager International Participants. The ceremony was also attended by Andrius Kalindra, Head of the International Relations and the European Union Group at the Office of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, Jūratė Ramoškienė, Advisor to the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania in the United Arab Emirates, Edita Bružikaitė, Mantas Čekaitis and Mindaugas Bučas – architects of the Lithuanian pavilion, Aziz Chahine, head of the A2Z company, partner architect in the UAE and Ieva Naujalytė, Chair of the Lithuanian Business Association in Dubai.

Openarium, Lithuania’s future pavilion in Dubai, will be a two-storey building with an impressive wooden construction, featuring window shutters, decorated with traditional motifs. It will rise on a plot of land of more than 15 ares, designated to Lithuania in the ‘Sustainable Development’ section, located in the very centre of the exhibition. By the order of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, Lithuania’s presentation at this global event with the theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, is organised by the Ministry of the Environment, which already has more than 20 years of experience in this type of work.

192 countries have already registered to participate at EXPO 2020. The organisers emphasize that all countries will have their own individual pavilions for the first time in the 168-year-old history of the event.

More than 25 million of visits are expected in the six months (from 20 October 2020 to 10 April 2021) of the event.

After the groundbreaking ceremony, the world EXPO 2020 office hosted a meeting and discussion on the success of Lithuania’s participation at the event and perspectives afterwards. The impressive possibilities during the event were introduced by the EXPO Chief Pavilions and Exhibitions Officer Marjan Faraidooni and Nadimeh Mehra, Vice President, District 2020. During the meeting Lithuania was offered to prepare a plan for using the pavilion for further activity after the event is over. This is a truly promising perspective, enabling to continue and develop active cooperation between Lithuania and the UAE.

Direct flights between Vilnius and Dubai – not just a dream

The meeting with Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, Minister of Economy of the UAE, included a pleasant surprise for the Lithuanian delegation. Al Mansoori has been working as the Minister of Economy for more than ten years – since 2008. He completed his education in the United States of America: at the Institute of Computer Technology (California) and Arizona State University. While studying in the USA, Al Mansoori got acquainted and stayed in touch with the Lithuanian émigrée and had several visits to Lithuania already as a minister, admiring Lithuania’s fast development, technologies and cultural life. He was greatly impressed by the small ‘state’ in Vilnius – the Republic of Užupis, which has its own constitution and unique traditions. Cherishing his warm feelings towards Lithuania and appreciating Lithuania’s achievements, particularly in the field of high technology, the Minister is seeking for a serious and mutually-beneficial cooperation between the two countries.

The meeting included discussions on direct flights between Vilnius and Dubai. It is very likely that in the nearest future they will be offered by FlyDubai company (UAE). FlyDubai is a budget airline company, which belongs to the UAE government, with a central office located and flights offered from the 2nd terminal of Dubai International Airport.

A glance to Dubai from Burj Khalifa

The conversation between the Lithuanian delegation and the leaders of the Chamber of Commerce of Dubai, Vice-president was also promising, while Khalid Mannai, Executive Director of Political Affairs of the Vice-president of the UAE, invited the Lithuanian delegation for a business lunch and to take a look at Dubai from Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. This 160-storey highlight of Dubai is the tallest skyscraper in the world, the construction of which required 330 thousands of cubic metres of concrete and 31.4 thousand tonnes of steel. It can be seen from a distance of 95 kilometres.

Aside from official meetings, Romas Jankauskas, Commissioner General of the Lithuanian Pavilion and Mantas Svečiulis, EXPO Group Chief Desk Officer of the Ministry of the Environment, the Lithuanian pavilion project group and their partners in the UAE, have met the exhibition staff, various construction companies and service providers.

Dubai – the capital of Arab media 2020

Quite a while before the 1 Year to Go event, EXPO 2020 organisers announced an invitation to the Global Media Briefing.

On 17 July this year, Dubai was declared as the official capital of Arab media of 2020. This resolution was adopted during the 50th session of the Arab Information Ministers Council in Cairo (Egypt). Dubai earned this title for the modern views on the media, being the first in the Arab world to acknowledge the power and importance of press.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai, who initiated the formation of the media strategy 20 years ago and the establishment of the enormous Dubai Media City complex, was glad to see that all the rest of the Arab states appreciated Dubai’s effort in cooperation with the media, providing it with suitable positions.

Media outlets are not mere channels to cover events and disseminate information. Media is a partner in achieving development goals, setting their direction and driving their impact. It is a role that comes with great responsibility.’ said the press-releases on this decision, adopted by the Arab Ministers Council.

World media uniting minds and forces

The media events, which took place on 20–22 October in the Media Capital of Dubai and were attended by various press, radio, TV and social media representatives, were very informative, practical, efficient and interesting. They began with making acquaintances during the reception, hosted for the media on 20 October at Dubai Opera, where all media representatives had to sign that they have read and understood the accreditation conditions and undertake to follow them, and took place until night at the celebratory concert of world-known musicians at the foot of Burj Khalifa.

On 21 October, the event continued at the conference-briefing, held at Address Dubai Marina hotel, where the organisers of EXPO 2020 introduced all the practical issues that need to be known by journalists, who will work and are already working at the largest world event. This event stood out of the many other conferences by being very specific and professional. With no time-consuming speeches and unformulated questions, the briefing created an impression of an event that was very well-prepared in advance.

During the press conference at the Address Dubai Marina, Reem Al Hashimi, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General for the Dubai World Expo 2020, emphasized that UAE is impatiently looking forward the opening of the world EXPO 2020.

This day will affect regions, states, governments and nations of the entire region. We have never had a chance to show our achievements, culture, heritage, goals and dreams to the world. That is why we see and accept this event as a huge opportunity for the people living in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia – one of the youngest populations in the world in terms of age – to get to know the entire world and leave our mark there through the information, provided by the global media.’ said Reem Al Hashimi.

He also emphasized that this mark will, first of all, be the impressive central construction of the heart of EXPO 2020 – Al Wasl Plazza. The square, bearing the old name of Dubai (Al Wasl) will be covered by an enormous and breathtaking dome.

The region of the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, and its roots are as old as the history itself. This region gave the human race many values, ideas and inventions, which make the foundation of our present lives. That is why the meeting, cooperation and sharing of knowledge and ideas with people from the entire world under the EXPO 2020 ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ is namely what we need for our planet today in order to overcome the challenges that it encounters, while implementing new ideas and making important decisions. That is why our attention in this exhibition is focused on the future.’ said Al Hashimi.

The most interesting part of the Global Media events was a selection of tours, organised on 22 October. Of course, all of the tours were very attractive, but there was only enough time for two.

Naturally, the favourite choice of the majority of the participants of the event was a trip south of the centre of Dubai to the EXPO 2020 site. The budget of the site, which is situated not far from Al Maktoum International Airport and covers more than 4 sq. km, amounts to 8 billion US dollars.

Eager media, radio, television, cinema industry and social media representatives, press owners and producers from various parts of the world were taken there by full scheduled buses. It was an honour for JŪRA MOPE SEA international business magazine to represent Lithuania.

The land of ‘Sustainable Development’, ‘Mobility’ and ‘Opportunities’

We were welcomed by EXPO 2020 staff at the Media Centre, located in the ‘Sustainable Development’ zone. We ascend to the observation deck, as it seemed, on the tenth floor of the building, which offered impressive pictures, full of action, sounds, views, colours, technology, constructions, desert sand, blue sky and biting sun.

The construction of the EXPO 2020 site commenced in March 2015. According to the staff, the works are right on schedule. Ahmed Al Khatib, Chief Development and Delivery Officer, Expo 2020 Dubai, says that the major construction works on this 4.38 sq. km territory, in the ‘Sustainable Development’, ‘Mobility’, ‘Opportunities’ sections are complete, the infrastructure for the entire territory of the exhibition, including the energy stations, are ready one hundred per cent. A large share of the land roads, taking to the Expo site, are in operation. A metro line and a metro station, which can service 44,000 passengers per hour, should be ready until the opening too. Dubai International Airport is doing its best to renew its runways and there is also a group of new hotels, rising near the EXPO 2020 constructions as well.

The first thing to capture the attention already from the road is the dome of the Al Wasl Plaza, given the old name of Dubai – Al Wasl. That is a truly impressive construction that we observed from the roof of the Media Centre. According to our guides, this 67.5 m construction, covering the area, which equals 16 tennis courts, could easily fit two A380 planes and weighs as much as 500 elephants. It will host parks, fountains and restaurants. The 130 m diameter glass dome will become the largest projection screen in the world.

The shade in the ‘Sustainable Development’ zone, which takes the area of 2 sq. kilometres, is already provided not only by designer smart trees of shade and light, but actual living trees, creating an impression of a cosy oasis.

The main construction of the ‘Sustainable Development’ pavilion, which will also host Lithuania’s exposition, is an elegant and spaceship-like structure, called Terra (Lat. Earth). That is a 130 m diameter structure, covered with 1,500 solar panels, which should produce four gigawatt hours of power in a year. It would be enough for a small electric vehicle to drive half the way to Mars. Producing electricity during the day, at night this smart structure uses its construction to collect moisture from the air, producing 22,000 litres of water per day. The purpose of this pavilion is to remind people that we are yet not too late to save our planet.

The observation deck also offers a good view of the 4,369 sq. m ‘Mobility’ pavilion, which can receive 2,500 visitors per hour. There they will see and find out everything that enables the mobility of people, goods, knowledge, ideas and data. The visitors should be enchanted by the inspiring history of the old UAE trade routes and the powerful modern-day transport centre. The country is intending to continue its preparations for the future mission to Mars.

The ‘Opportunity’ sector is busy with work. The 15,000 sq. m hydraulic construction of the UAE pavilion looks like a wing of an enormous bird or a plane and, according to our guides, will move and produce clean energy. The pavilion will introduce the UAE vision of a peaceful and advanced society. Many things that are currently intensively implemented in the ‘Opportunity’ sector are intriguing projects and their major goals and functions will be revealed the next year.

EXPO 2020 on the focus of international organisations

A major role in ensuring the participation of African region at EXPO 2020 is taken by the African Union, uniting 55 states of the region. It encourages to show the world the region’s advancement in sustainable industry and the efforts of industrialising Africa’s economy, and creating partnerships between state and private sector in order to improve the social and economic situation and life quality of the citizens.

An important message to the world on the benefits of cooperation in solving global issues and creating a peaceful, sustainable and just future for all, is sent by the United Nations, aiming for the same goals like the organisers of the world exhibitions. Established in a special EXPO 2020 pavilion, the UNO promotes the idea that all nations should shape and create their future together. ‘We the Peoples: Shaping Our Future Together’ is the credo of UNO, celebrating its 75th anniversary next year. The words ‘We the Peoples’ begin the charter of the UNO, established in 1945.

The day of the United Nations is celebrated on 24 October every year, so the UNO anniversary will be the first event, following the official opening of the EXPO 2020. The national days of the countries will be celebrated throughout the entire exhibition. Lithuanian National Day will be celebrated on the special date of 11 March – the Restoration of Lithuania’s Independence.

In his presentation Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the UNO, emphasized that the organisation’s 75th anniversary all over the world will include events for youth – discussions on the role of global cooperation and its importance in creating the future that the world wants and has earned. Participation at the world EXPO 2020 creates a possibility to reach millions of people in person and get them involved in the schedule for Sustainable Development until 2030, aiming for 17 sustainable development goals, in the virtual space.

According to Maher Naser, Commissioner General of the United Nations at Expo 2020 Dubai, who expressed his gratitude to the UAE Government and people, as well as the organisers of the event for the opportunity to take part in its programme on the EXPO 2020 topic ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’. The UNO exposition space will be dedicated and open to various events, presentations, discussions and meetings. UNO will introduce the activities of its agencies, the goals of various foundations and programmes, will also seek to attract the interest of governments, society, business, academic and artistic community to search for solutions to the gaps between people, poverty, climate change, and to create the future that all of us want and that all of us have deserved.

Dubai will dazzle the world

The moods at the one-year countdown are optimistic. According to Dubai’s press releases, upon inspecting the infrastructure works at the EXPO site, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Emir of the Emirate of Dubai, expressed his satisfaction in the advancement of the project and the effort of the EXPO working group, led by Reem Al Hashimi, Minister of State for International Cooperation, encouraging all national state institutions to intensify their effort to ensure the success of the exhibition. He is convinced that Dubai will host the best EXPO in its entire 168-year-old history.

Vincente Gonzalez Loscertales, Secretary General of the Bureau of International Exhibitions, also claims to be very satisfied with the logistics and technical preparation of Dubai.

He emphasized that the preparations for EXPO 2020 are going according to plan and within the timeframe, which was introduced at the meetings of the BIE General Assembly.

We feel a good team spirit and are impatiently looking forward the introduction of this unique edition of EXPO in UAE being certain that in 2020 Dubai will dazzle the world.’ said Vincente Gonzalez Loscertales, Secretary General of the Bureau of International Exhibitions and old-timer in organising events.

 

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International business magazine JŪRA MOPE SEA has been published since 1999
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The magazine JŪRA has been published since 1935.
International business magazine JŪRA MOPE SEA has been
published since 1999.

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