The French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs unveiled the visitor experience offered by his country's pavilion at the Dubai World Expo on Monday, which will highlight the country's gastronomic and cultural assets as well as its innovations.
Jean-Yves Le Drian said the France Pavilion would be an expression of “the wish for 21st century enlightenment” at a time when the world is not only dealing with the economic fallout from the global pandemic but also ecological transition and digital revolution.
“Our pavilion is therefore designed as a link between the universal heritage that we are proud to claim and the solutions that we are bringing today to build a more sustainable, more resilient and more inclusive world, in accordance with the United Nations 2030 Agenda,” Mr Le Drian said.
"Our pavilion will also enable highlighting the richness of our tourist, gastronomic and cultural assets, in particular thanks to varied event programming which, throughout the six months of the exhibition, will offer the public an overview of our country’s heritage and top-level know-how.”
The France Pavilion was completed earlier this month with an acacia arabica tree, native to the Middle East, planted on Dubai's promenade in a formal ceremony.
UAE and French ministers and officials gathered at the site that will open to the public on October 1.
The French began work on the structure in May 2019 and, despite the Covid-19 crisis, completed it more than five months ahead of the expo.
Light is a core feature of the project with solar tiles encasing the roof, a facade inspired by Claude Monet’s famed Water Lilies series of paintings and a canopy that will emit beams to attract visitors.
France Expo 2020 Dubai said the exhibition aims to inspire visitors by bringing out “ideas, desires and emotions” and to “embody innovations” by encouraging progress and creation.
"Putting scientific and technical innovation at the service of human progress … this is the ambition that France has wanted to embody since the Age of Enlightenment,” Mr Le Drian said.
“Faced with the current pandemic crisis, as well as the challenges of the ecological transition, new mobility and the digital revolution, this ambition today takes on a new meaning and a new urgency. This is why we wanted the France Pavilion at the Dubai World Expo to be an expression of the wish for this 21st century enlightenment."
France Expo 2020 Dubai said the visitor experience is in two parts; the first is a promenade where guests can stroll through two artistic exhibitions, one a series of sculptures and furniture from Sepand Danesh, an Iranian-born French artist who has lived in Paris since he was 12.
A playground for children will feature QR codes hidden deep inside his work to create an experience similar to a treasure hunt.
Another art exhibition will feature textile innovations by lille3000, presenting a panorama of the textiles of tomorrow in seven capsules dotted along the promenade.
Visitors will then be welcomed into the entrance hall, where they can learn about the natural, cultural and human resources offered by each of the country’s regions.
A permanent exhibition at the heart of the Pavilion themed around “progress” will feature three staged spaces: the first will use light to highlight the Classified Universal Dictionary of Human Knowledge, a 35-volume encyclopaedia lent by the National Archives and exhibited in the France Pavilion.
A second space will focus on mobility and feature exhibitions from car maker Renault, as well as the French energy giant Engie, and a display by Flying Whales, an innovative French company set up in 2012 to create an airship able to transport up to 60 tonnes of goods at altitudes close to 3,000 metres.
A third space will focus on progress to tie in with the theme of the Dubai World Expo ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ with three subspaces or ‘Planets’, each embodying a priority topic for tomorrow’s world to create together: science, education and the arts.
A temporary exhibition will change every month, with one dedicated to fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier and another to the medieval cathedral Notre Dame, where visitors can learn about conservation work on the Paris landmark after the 2019 fire that destroyed much of the building.
The France Pavilion has also designed its six-month presence around 12 themed fortnights, based on the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals, to raise awareness of the major causes and challenges of tomorrow and to highlight French initiatives around biodiversity, climate, peace, space and consumption.
"This World Exposition is a unique opportunity to exhibit our country as a pioneer in ecological ways of living. We will show, through effective example, that France is playing a leadership role at the global level to achieve the SDG and more generally, the ecological transition,” said Emmanuelle Wargon, French minister delegate for housing.