Expo 2020 Dubai is the most anticipated expo of all time, the Australian commissioner-general for the event said on Tuesday.
Justin McGowan told The National that delays caused by Covid-19 meant this year’s Expo had taken on extra meaning, as countries looked to bounce back from the impact of the pandemic.
He said Expo 2020 Dubai represented the first real opportunity for nations to come together in one location and discuss strategies on how to rebuild economies affected by the global health crisis.
“This is the most anticipated expo of all time and the reasons for us to participate are all the more relevant given the impact we have all faced from the pandemic,” he said.
“There is a need for mutual social and economic recovery and to be able to do that we all need to work together.
"The pandemic has meant the Expo represents opportunities that are even more valuable than first envisaged.”
The pavilion will also be home to live sporting events, with cricket tournaments taking place on an adjacent field, Mr McGowan said.
"We want to get people moving and [to] enjoy the benefits of sport," he said.
"There's going to be everything from cricket tournaments, touch football matches, as well as yoga and cross-fit sessions."
The theme of the Australian pavilion is Blue Sky Dreaming. Its website says this means “the condensing of the nation’s aspirations and achievements and harnessing the Australian spirit of optimism and ideas”.
It will also symbolise the openness of Australia when it comes to diversity, harmony, creativity and problem-solving, the pavilion's website says.
The pavilion has an open forecourt and gathering space with a live-performance stage, where Australian-inspired food and beverages will be served.
There are three storeys to the pavilion, which is 21 metres high and has a total floor space of 2,500 square metres.
The roof is inspired by the white fluffy clouds that are synonymous with Australian skylines.
The Expo was originally scheduled to take place in 2020 but the Covid-19 pandemic meant the event was delayed by 12 months. It will now take place from October 1, 2021, until March 31, 2022.
The event also represents an opportunity to show there is more to Australia than stereotypes would suggest, Mr McGowan said.
“We want to enlighten people about Australia’s place in the world,” he said.
“We’re actually a clever nation. There’s so much more to Australia than just beaches, animals and sport.
“We are in the top one per cent in the world when it comes to science and research and we will be displaying that innovation in Dubai.”
The pavilion will be home to 150 events over the course of the expo including cultural performances, Mr McGowan said.
“We have a significant presence here and are one of the larger pavilions,” he said.
The country's long-standing links with the UAE made the pavilion’s presence all the more important, he said.
“For many years Australians and Emiratis have done business together,” he said.
“Australia even has one of the oldest private universities in the UAE with the University of Wollongong in Dubai.
“We want to support the UAE in its Golden Jubilee year and show solidarity with our friends.”
Mr McGowan said he expected two million people to visit the pavilion during the expo’s six-month run.
“There is a unique opportunity to build new relations with nations we wouldn’t traditionally have traded with,” he said.
“We also want to enlighten guests and visitors about what Australia has to offer.
“In five to 10 years’ time, we want Australia to feature in their thinking about where to go on holiday, where to go to study and where to go to work.”
The pavilion also represents a chance for Australians, who have been unable to return home since the pandemic began, to reconnect with their home country, he added.
“We welcome every Australian expat living in the UAE as well from all over the world,” he said.
“We want people to enjoy a slice of Australia in Dubai.”