Expo 2020 Dubai: Reconnecting the world to shape the future

Interview with the Commissioners-General of Finland, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom

Expo 2020 Dubai: Reconnecting the world to shape the future

Bureau International des Expositions

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is changing lives around the world and raising important questions about what kind of future is best for the planet and for humankind. World Expo 2020 Dubai – now set to open to the public on 1 October 2021 following a vote by the General Assembly of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) – will address these questions and more, as 190 countries gather around the theme “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”.

In an interview with the BIE, Severi Keinälä, Commissioner General for Finland, Clayton Kimpton, Commissioner General for New Zealand, Fahad A. Alyabis, Commissioner General for Saudi Arabia, and Laura Faulkner OBE, Commissioner General for the United Kingdom, reflect on the opportunities Expo 2020 Dubai will bring to the post-Covid era.

 

In light of the Covid-19 crisis, how do you view Expo 2020 Dubai?

Severi Keinälä: After each economic downturn there has always been a new upswing. Once the aftermath of the pandemic has dissipated and the world economy has started to recover, there will be a need for a platform in which countries, companies and citizens of all nations can connect and start building a new future. We must all work united to overcome the challenges of the one-year postponement and aim for the world’s greatest show next year.

There is a good chance that by October 2021, the global economy will be starting to recover, coinciding with the new opening date of Expo 2020 Dubai. This would give the Expo a great opportunity to function as a platform for the beginning of a new era of growth and a meeting point for nations of the world to establish new contacts and strengthen old ones. I believe that all of us involved in the Expo would welcome rapid economic recovery and being able to contribute to strengthening international cooperation at Expo 2020 Dubai in 2021-2022.

"Once the aftermath of the pandemic has dissipated and the world economy has started to recover, there will be a need for a platform in which countries, companies and citizens of all nations can connect and start building a new future"

“Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” is the theme of Expo 2020 Dubai. How is the United Kingdom approaching this theme in view of a post-pandemic world?

Laura Faulkner OBE: The global challenge we have collectively faced with Covid-19 gives Expo 2020 Dubai’s theme even more relevance. World Expos bring people together in a spirit of hope and collaboration for a better future. Now more than ever, humanity needs to come together to remember what unites us. That remains the ambition of all of us involved in this Expo. Expo 2020 Dubai provides a moment of world unity and will be a symbol of recovery and human resilience.

In the last few months it has been great to see UK companies share their talent and expertise with other nations in the fight against Covid-19. UK businesses are delivering innovations and solutions that will help pave the way to a post-pandemic world, such as using 3D printing to create PPE equipment and delivering new virtual experiences and events. We will be promoting these inspiring stories at the UK Pavilion and through our associated content, programming and campaign activity.

As Commissioner of Saudi Arabia at Expo 2020 Dubai, how do you see Expo 2020 Dubai contributing towards new opportunities in the Middle East and beyond?

Fahad A. Alyabis: Saudi Arabia lies in the heart of the Middle East and is keen to see development in all parts of the region. His Royal Highness, the Crown Prince, has already expressed his vision for the Kingdom and how our growth will position us in the future. An International Exhibition like Expo 2020 Dubai will play a pivotal role in driving development and attracting global attention to this part of the world that offers a plethora of promising opportunities and robust human and economic potential.

For us in Saudi Arabia, the message of our pavilion is summed up by its unique design. Shaped to represent a large window that opens from the ground and rises to the sky, it enables visitors to look out at the Kingdom, rich in opportunities where talent and competencies abound. Our pavilion will showcase these opportunities in the fields of technology, health, education, services, sports, tourism, travel, culture, archeology, entertainment, transportation, and construction.

From New Zealand’s perspective, how do you see Expo 2020 Dubai shaping a better future?

Clayton Kimpton: We will all be looking forward to gathering as a global community next year for Expo 2020 Dubai, following the collective challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic. World Expos have the convening power to bring the world together and spotlight the opportunities and challenges we collectively face. The Expo 2020 Sustainability, Opportunity and Mobility Districts provide a platform for international collaboration on a range of issues that impact us all. New Zealand will be sharing our message of “Care for People and Place”, and the importance of looking after the environment around us, so that in turn, it looks after us. I am confident that Expo 2020 Dubai will leave a lasting legacy and spirit of international solidarity, setting us up to chart a positive way forward for a brighter future.

"World Expos have the convening power to bring the world together and spotlight the opportunities and challenges we collectively face"

Does Expo 2020 Dubai represent an opportunity for New Zealand?

Clayton Kimpton: New Zealand is an active member of the global community and we rely on our relationships with partners around the world for business and cultural exchanges through trade, tourism and education. Expo 2020 Dubai is an opportunity for us to reinforce and grow these relationships through our message of “Care for People and Place” that will be told through our pavilion’s visitor experience. We will have a restaurant to share our premium quality food and beverage treating guests to our warm New Zealand hospitality. Our arts and culture will be on display throughout the six months, with a series of events showcasing New Zealand’s talent, diversity, and youth. Expo 2020 Dubai is an opportunity for New Zealand to showcase a broad view of our country from business, innovation and investment, our cultural heritage and our future through the eyes of our youth.

 

The theme of the United Kingdom’s participation at Expo 2020 Dubai is “Innovating for a Shared Future”. Is cross-border collaboration a key part of our shared future?

Laura Faulkner OBE: We have always believed in the importance of cross-border collaboration and the exchange of ideas to build a better world for all. We look forward to convening with other nations in the spirit of solidarity and optimism for the future, with a renewed focus on working together to develop solutions to complex global problems.

Expo 2020 Dubai will be a timely centrepiece in future global recovery. It will provide a step towards global economic stimulus and a fitting moment for world governments, business leaders and the general public to exchange ideas, explore different approaches and build new partnerships.

"Expo 2020 Dubai will be a timely centrepiece in future global recovery"

Saudi Arabia’s participation at Expo 2020 Dubai will focus on the Kingdom’s transformation. What future transformations do you see for Saudi Arabia and the world?

Fahad A. Alyabis: I believe ‘The Sky is the Limit’, the theme that we adopted from day one for Saudi Arabia’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, is the most sincere expression of our reality — today more than ever. Transformation is an integral element of our lives and is on par with the course for the human race. The greater the challenges, the more inspired our minds become to devise innovative and creative solutions to overcome them.

Every individual has his/her unique value in society and is an integral part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 transformation plan. Transformation is a continuous process as we set more ambitious goals ahead of every milestone. The digital transformation taking place in Saudi Arabia is an excellent example of the wider transformation underway.

"The greater the challenges, the more inspired our minds become to devise innovative and creative solutions to overcome them"

The transformation success stories are countless. Their impact is tangible in our everyday life in Saudi Arabia, spanning tourism, entertainment, trade, logistics, and infrastructure, among other domains. This is what we are coming to proudly showcase to the world at Expo 2020. Given the pace at which opportunities are being unlocked in Saudi Arabia, the sky is truly the limit for this country, and for the world as well.

 

The theme of Finland’s participation is “Sharing Future Happiness”. How will Finland contribute when Expo 2020 Dubai opens in October 2021?

Severi Keinälä: Finland’s pavilion ‘Snow Cape’ is located in the mobility district. “Sharing Future Happiness”, the main theme of Snow Cape and Finland’s participation in Expo 2020 Dubai, is closely connected to the Expo theme. Finnish happiness is based on the symbiosis of people, nature and technology. This deep connection is the origin of the quality of everyday Finnish life. The Finland pavilion communicates this happiness by taking visitors on a journey through Finland’s key strengths: nature and sustainability, education and know-how, and functionality and wellbeing.

Finland will participate together with over 100 Finnish companies at Expo 2020 Dubai. We will showcase the Finnish way of connecting minds and creating the future. Finland is one of the leading countries in terms of innovation and technology know-how. The Finnish pavilion presents globally leading clean technologies, circular economy with sustainable use of resources, sustainable energy, digital solutions, mobile communications, machinery, education, health and wellbeing, travel and Finnish design.

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Opinions given by external contributors do not necessarily reflect the views and position of the BIE