Ljubljana – Preparations for the 2020 Dubai Expo are going as planned despite the pandemic, Omar Shehadeh, chief international participants officer for the Expo 2020 Dubai told the STA in an interview. He said every participating country would have a pavilion of its own for the first time ever and that he was excited about Slovenia’s contribution.
“The one-year delay presents us with an opportunity to enhance the site even further and to make sure that preparations are firmly in place ahead of the new opening date of 1 October 2021,” he said, noting that Expo 2020 was on track.
According to him, the majority of construction has been completed, including 95% of public realm areas. “Our work onsite is currently focused on landscaping and fit-out of Expo-owned buildings. Meanwhile, preparations for the country pavilions also continue at pace …”
In a few months, the organisers plan to bring “the world together on a world-class site that showcases stunning architecture from around the globe, and some of the best examples of collaboration, innovation and sustainability”.
In January, visitors were offered a limited-time preview of the Sustainability Pavilion – Terra.
Expo 2020 will welcome more than 200 participating countries and organisations, government entities, educational establishments and multilateral institutions – as well as millions of visitors – from around the world, Shehadeh noted.
For the first time ever, every participating country will have its own pavilion. “For six months, they will highlight the best in art, culture, entertainment, ambition and innovation and inspire visitors to shape a better future for the planet and everyone living on it.”
The host country will have the largest pavilion. “Designed in the shape of a falcon in flight by award-winning architect Santiago Calatrava, the UAE Pavilion will span 15,000 square meters and four storeys, and be a major attraction at Expo 2020 Dubai as the largest pavilion on the site.”
“The pavilion will showcase the history of the nation as a cross-continental gateway and global hub, and how the vision of its leaders is helping create a peaceful and progressive society with ambitious plans for the future,” said Shehadeh, who visited Slovenia as part of preparations for the Expo two years ago.
He is convinced visitors would be attracted to all pavilions regardless of their size, as each of them will boast “stunning architecture features, designs and experiences”.
The Slovenian pavilion, positioned right on the entrance, will highlight the country’s sustainability efforts. “Along with learning more about its culture and innovation, we look forward to hearing more from the nation on how the nation has cultivated a green economy to offer its citizens, residents and visitors an elevated quality of life.
“And in the process, we hope to take the steps needed to inspire countries, companies and visitors alike to commit to shaping a better future for the planet and its people.”
The Slovenian pavilion, in which the country will be presented under the motto Green Smart Experience, will promote Slovenia as a sustainable, modern and creative country relying on its green environment, know-how, breakthrough ideas, innovation, and businesses with added value.
The pavilion is built from wood, has green facade and is surrounded by water, expressing three main natural resources of Slovenia – wood, green environment and water.
The authors of the concept are Sandi Pirš and Robert Klun, while companies Riko and KTNK Andrej Koritnik were in charge of projecting and building the pavilion in cooperation with Capital engineering consultancy, ZAE, Studio Pirss, CBD, Arhitektura Jure Kotnik, Hennesey LLC ZAE, German Steel Contracting LLC, Knauf Insulation, Intra Lighting, Marmor Hotavlje and DHL Global Forwarding.
The UAE has invested a lot in the Expo 2020 project and has great expectations of the event despite the pandemic, as strict health and safety guidelines from the UAE Ministry of Health, Dubai Health Authority and WHO are being adhered to, Shehadeh said.
A number of precautionary measures will be in place, including thermal cameras at arrival points, face masks requirement for all visitors, staff and volunteers, social-distancing, regular sanitisation and cleaning of all venues and common areas, and hand-sanitiser stations throughout the site.
Facilities with specialist staff to manage any potential medical issues will be on site along with designated staff responsible for monitoring and regulating social distancing and adherence to safety guidelines. All staff working on site will be vaccinated.
Shehadeh believes the outbreak of Covid-19 has brought the international community closer together and the Expo will build on this. “Expo 2020 will convene the world in a spirit of optimism and solidarity, and inspire countries, companies, multinational organisations, educational institutions, and millions of visitors from around the world, to join hands and collaborate towards solving our most pressing challenges. This mission is now more relevant than ever,” he said.
The Dubai Expo was initially to be held between 20 October 2020 and 10 April 2021, but its opening was postponed because of the pandemic, so it will be held between 1 October 2021 and 31 March 2022.