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France is planning to deliver an experience that is out of this world when it celebrates its Expo 'national day' on the opening weekend of Expo 2020 Dubai.
Performers on stilts, dressed as aliens, an air show and a live call from a French astronaut in space will be among the activities during an action-packed itinerary spanning ten locations across the world's fair site on Saturday.
An enormous projection of astronaut Thomas Pesquet will appear on the Al Wasl Dome, where he will speak live from the International Space Station between 7.40pm and 8pm.
Each of the country pavilions will host a 'national day' throughout the 182-day extravaganza - showing off everything from food and culture to technology and design.
“Space is really important because for us it's clearly linked with the main theme of Expo, when you talk about smart and sustainable cities,” Erik Linquier, commissioner general for France at Expo 2020 Dubai, told The National.
“A large part of information and actions that will be used to reach the Sustainable Development Goals go through space, whether it is meteorological, geographical or geological information, geographical or geological information.”
Pilots with the Patrouille de France – the aerobatics unit of the French Air and Space Force – will fly over the vast Dubai South site from 1.45pm to 2.15pm. They will decorate the skies with blue, white and red smoke, the colours of the French national flag.
At the Sea Plaza, the stilt-walkers dressed as aliens will interact with visitors. The performance is called Les Cosmopodes and involves “silvery beings from space” who discover Earth and make contact with humans.
Another highlight will be a parade made up of pupils from seven French schools in the UAE to illustrate the history of France.
Full schedule of the French National Day celebrations at expo:
10am to 10.30am / 11.30am to 12pm / 3pm to 3.30pm / 5.30pm to 6pm: The Fabulous Mister Sigrid will be making creative hats for visitors at 2020 Plaza
10.30am to 11am / 4.30pm to 5pm / 6.30pm to 7pm: The Cosmopodes show at Sea Plaza, where stilt-walkers will be dressed as aliens
12.45pm to 1.30pm: Parade on the Avenue of the Nations
1.45pm to 2.15pm: Air show by the Patrouille de France
7.35pm to 7.40pm: A sound journey to space – World premiere of an immersive sound experience by ArianeGroup and Devialet at Al Wasl Plaza
7.40pm to 8pm: Live call from astronaut Thomas Pesquet at the Al Wasl Plaza
8pm / 9.15pm to 9.30pm: Beatbox concert by Berywam at Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre