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Despite economic woes back home, Lebanon is ready to meet the world at Expo 2020 Dubai.
The final touches are under way in the country’s pavilion, where it hopes to welcome millions of visitors once the world fair opens its doors on October 1.
The country is in the midst of an economic crisis that has left almost 80 per cent of the population living in poverty and caused shortages of medicines and fuel.
Though the pavilion may not be extravagant, due to budget constraints, it carries a loud message and is rich in essence, said creative director Joelle Hajjar.
“When we lose everything, all we have left is each other,” she told The National.
“That is our goal at Expo 2020, for the world to meet the Lebanese and see who they truly are.”
Under the theme Together, We Walk, the pavilion aims to celebrate the country’s most valuable resource: its people.
It brings together some of the country's brightest minds from different fields to showcase their skills and talents at the world fair.
From music to film to design and more, the Lebanon pavilion will put on display its wealth of talent and creativity, say organisers.
“We want to turn the spotlight on the Lebanese who are excelling everywhere,” said Ms Hajjar.
During the world fair - which runs until March 31, 2022 - the Lebanon pavilion will host workshops, round tables, performances, exhibitions, competitions and more.
“We will not have a dull moment,” Ms Hajjar said. “We want to keep people coming back.”
The pavilion will also host chefs to cook up delicious Lebanese cuisine, and will feature a wine bar stocked with local brands and offering a wine-tasting experience.
“Everything we’re bringing to Expo 2020 Dubai is of the highest quality,” said Ms Hajjar.
“We’re giving a platform only to the best of the best.”
All this has been achieved despite the Lebanese team only having a few months to prepare its pavilion, after the country's economic crisis hit state funding.
In response, the private sector and the Lebanese diaspora took on the responsibility to sponsor the pavilion and get the country to Expo 2020.
“The funding we had was not enough,” Ms Hajjar said.
“But the alternative was to take Lebanon off the world map at this event, and we could not let it happen.”
With limited means, the pavilion was created to reflect on the people’s suffering, and show what they’re capable of achieving.
Visitors will be able to walk with the Lebanese people and see what talent they have to offer the world, despite the hardships of everyday life in the country, say organisers.
“We want to leave a legacy behind,” said Ms Hajjar.
“Out of 192 countries, our pavilion will be imprinted in the mind of every visitor.”