Expo Milan 2015 – Pavilion of Mauritania

Questions to the Commissioner General, Mr. Oumar Ould Abidine Sidi

1. Could you tell us about the theme you have chosen and the issues that it will raise ?

Mauritania will be represented by the following sub-theme : « Irrigated crops under the palm trees in arid zones in the desert and dairy food ».
Our pavilion aims at presenting arid zones, a living oasis, a typical phenomenon of the Sahara of Mauritania, with all the implications for the human being, its environment, its crop and livestock production, its nutrition, and the original culture that has been developed over ages in this deserted area.

The message, we wish to give through this choice is that water is a precious gift to human, animal and vegetal life. Green areas represent joy in such a hostile natural environment; animals are more human being's friends than consumer goods. Actually any type of life in the desert is a Miracle. Therefore, it is essential to protect and preserve life in the desert and implement any possible measures to maintain it.

2. Mauritania is in a wide deserted area but according to the FAO, there is a significant agricultural growth potential. What are the main challenges Mauritania has to face in agriculture and what are the future prospects?

Indeed, back in the 80's, Mauritania established a specific policy to fight against desertification and its negative effects on the populations. In order to do so, thousands of acres were prepared for agriculture in the area of the river Senegal with the objective to allow people to reach food self-sufficiency.
Projects of rice cultivation, in the lowland M'Pourié notably, and since last year, experimental plantation of wheat in Foum Gleita have started. We can also proudly notice that the fruit production in the irrigated area of the Delta of Senegal shows encouraging results.

3. Mauritania will be part of the Cluster "Nutrition in Arid Zones". What do you expect from this cluster in terms of best practices sharing and as an opportunity to develop cooperation programmes?

Mauritania will participate with other countries such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Mongolia, Djibouti, Somalia, Palestine, Eritrea, Senegal and Mali in a common space. We all share a common area in real life: the desert. The fact of belonging to the same arid and harsh environment explains our level of complementarity and our best practices sharing to "domesticate" the desert and water scarcity.
People should know that we also share pastoral lands through seasonal move to summer pastures with our border countries: Senegal and Mali.

4. Have you already identified projects you want to present in your pavilion?

Besides the projects related to our chosen theme, being nutrition in arid zones, our pavilions wishes to promote (via illustrations) the free zone of Nouadhibou. This zone truly represents a key project that is supported by the highest political level in our country.
We consider, therefore, that this initiative of the free zone, justifies all our efforts to promote it in our national pavilion at EXPO 2015 Milan, especially in a close country like Italy, that seeks investments opportunities (in the area of fishery, shipbuilding industry and many other industries and maritime areas, closed to the free zone of Nouadhibou.

5. What image of Mauritania do you wish to leave in the minds of visitors?

We wish:
- To allow our visitors (who will mostly be Italian or European) to get a didactic understanding of our country and of our pavilion, as accurate ad as easy as possible;
- To be remembered by our visitors, in such a way that they would want to come and visit Mauritania, discover its culture, its inhabitants as well as the touristic, economic and investments' opportunities;
- To give a positive image of our country, that is open to the world, and especially to Europe that we see as a strategic partner, especially in terms of shared fisheries resources;
- To create a platform that would allow for investments in the free zone of Nouadhibou, as strategic area of development, that our country promotes constantly, so that it can meet the objectives set of job creations and returns.
- To give an optimal visibility to Expo 2015 within our country, around the theme of the Expo, that is universally vital.