Expo 2020 Dubai – creating a better future for Wales and the world

The Welsh government's Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, at Expo 2020 Dubai.

The fair's themes of opportunity, mobility and sustainability were fertile ground for Welsh speakers and exhibitors

Expo 2020 Dubai was an event of dazzling scope and ambition, with more than 20 million visits and a diverse assembly of minds and voices from around the globe.

For the Welsh government, the event not only provided an ideal platform to display the best of Wales on a global stage, but was also an invaluable opportunity to meet delegates, business representatives and colleagues face to face.

As an official partner of the UK Pavilion, which welcomed more than 1.1 million visitors, we brought together thought leaders, innovators, culinary creators and artists in a comprehensive presentation of Welsh values and culture.

The focus of Expo 2020 Dubai, “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future" and its key themes of opportunity, mobility and sustainability provided fertile ground for our Welsh speakers and exhibitors.

Everyone will have their own personal highlights from this year’s event. We particularly relished the opportunity to demonstrate how Wales is leading the way in promoting national well-being and sustainability, including a visit from the world’s only Future Generations Commissioner, Sophie Howe. With a remit set out in law, Sophie’s role is to act as a guardian of the interests of Future Generations in Wales.

While visiting the event, Sophie also joined a fireside chat with the chief executive of Dubai Future Foundation, Khalfan Belhoul and had separate meetings with the UAE Minister of State for Youth Affairs and the UAE Minister of State for Government Development and the Future – a great opportunity to explore frameworks for improving the environment, economy, society, and culture.

The United Arab Emirates is well established as one of Wales’ most important international trading partners. It is currently the UK’s largest civil export market in the Middle East and prior to Covid-19, the UAE was Wales’ largest export market outside the EU and the US with a total value of exports approaching £500 million ($653.13 million).

The Welsh government maintains a strong presence in the UAE and has had a permanent base in the country since 2004, when it established an office at the British embassy in Dubai. Since then, the office has worked to promote Wales and represent its trade interests both within the Emirates and across the wider Mena region.

Our active diaspora community was acknowledged at Dubai Expo via a networking event that also showcased Dydd Miwsig Cymru, or Welsh Language Music Day, a celebration of all forms and genres of Welsh language music.

With global connections and collaboration ever more important for the health of national tech economies it was also a particular pleasure to showcase our deep sector specialisms in life sciences, fintech, cybersecurity and compound semiconductor technology and forge new links with businesses in the UAE and beyond.

When it comes to “Creating the Future”, you need look no further than Wales’ compound semiconductor cluster, CSconnected – the first of its kind globally. This community is at the heart of a wide range of markets powering megatrends of the future and met with visitors at Expo. Much more complex than the long-established silicon technology, compound semiconductors are integral to the development of 5G and satellite communication systems, power electronics, RF & wireless devices, photonics and quantum computing.

With the growth of the medical sector in Mena offering great collaborative opportunities for Welsh and Mena businesses alike, we also relished the opportunity to bring together some of Wales’ foremost life sciences businesses and organisations for both Arab Health and a dedicated session at Expo.

At the event, we also supported members from Cyber Wales, one of the UK’s largest cyber security clusters and one of 14 founding members of Global EPIC, which brings together the world's foremost cyber security communities from 18 countries to collaborate on cyber security innovation. Having supported local organisations to form a Cyber Security Cluster in Dubai, Cyber Wales members are now strengthening the collaboration with the UAE and into the Middle East by running dedicated virtual cyber security cluster meetings.

When it came to offering a flavour of Welsh culture, in addition to our brilliant food and drink businesses, we were proud that Welsh National Opera was a key partner to Expo in delivering the Al Wasl Opera. The Emirati opera, which was specially commissioned for Expo, was a collaboration with Welsh National Opera. It tells the story of the UAE as a connector between civilisations and brings to life 1,000 years of culture and the UAE’s innovative spirit.

The Welsh National Opera team also delivered workshop sessions to schoolchildren in the UAE during our Welsh takeover at the UK Pavilion. The workshops were designed to really spark the imagination of children and demonstrate to future generations that opera is a rewarding, relevant and universal art form.

We were equally proud to bring some of Wales’ finest theatre voices, Welsh of the West End, and singer-songwriter, Eve Goodman, to the UK Pavilion as part of our annual St David’s day celebrations.

At Expo 2020 Dubai, our stories were told by ambitious Welsh doers, thinkers, makers, crafters and innovators. And we’re inviting like-minded partners around the globe to join us, to work with us, to do good things and create a better future.

For more information on what Wales has to offer to foreign investors, please visit the Trade & Investment Wales website: tradeandinvest.wales/

Updated: April 22, 2022, 6:55 AM