With a little over 900 days left until Expo 2020 Dubai begins, momentum, as well as building works, are beginning to pick up the pace as Luxembourg has become the first country to break ground on the construction of its pavilion.
The area around the 4.38 square kilometre Expo site is already in a phase of intense construction as infrastructure and transport links are developed, but on Sunday, Etienne Schneider, Luxembourg’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy, was on hand to officially start work on the country's pavilion.
It is the centre piece of the country's participation in the Expo, to which it has committed €25 million of investment. Luxembourg was also the first country to sign up to partner with the UAE for the event.
“Hopefully this momentum will pick up and we will have all countries who are building pavilions start construction fairly soon,” said Najeeb Al-Ali, executive director of Dubai Expo 2020 Bureau, who are hosting the fair. “It is not only construction [that is needed] – countries have to put a lot of effort into the content prepared [for the pavilions] and the more time you have the more you can actually test the operations of your pavilion and focus on your content.”
Mr Al-Ali said the Bureau was targeting that all the infrastructure be completed a year before the event begins.
Luxembourg’s pavilion is being designed by architects Metaform, which won the project last year after a competitive three-month selection process. Its design features a ramp to all floors with an overall spiral shape, within which there will be multiple areas for exhibiting and a restaurant. A curved, see-through slide will also be part of the pavilion.
Its theme is "resourceful Luxembourg" and the Grand Duchy is positioning itself as a hub for commercial space travel and asteroid mining. Sustainability, including tackling climate change and managing resources better, is a key theme of Dubai Expo 2020 as a whole.
“Our royal families have tight links and they know each other very well. Business between our two countries is quite important, especially in terms of financing projects in the UAE. We wanted to show there is more than financial business, that we have a vision for the future as well,” said Mr Schneider.
The coated glass used on Burj Khalifa came from Luxembourg, as did the steel used in construction.
“Both our countries announced things we wanted to do, which others never believed we could do. That is something we have in common,” he said, adding that Luxembourg’s investment in its pavilion is its largest ever for a world’s fair. The Dubai expo will run from October 2020 to April 2021 and is expected to draw 25 million visitors. 180 countries are expected to take part in what is to be the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East.
“One of the unique elements of our Expo is that every country will have its dedicated pavilion. Some will be small, some large. Luxembourg falls in the category we call 'self-built pavilion', these will be fairly important because you have a complete offering done by the country itself,” said Mr Al-Ali.