Monaco, the world’s second smallest nation, is hoping to put on a massive show at Expo 2020 Dubai with its raw diamond-shaped pavilion.
The sovereign city-state on the French Riviera is known as a “billionaire’s playground”, with huge casinos, lavish events and the Monaco Grand Prix.
Apart from the glamour, the tiny nation has a rich history and a sophisticated arts and culture scene, which visitors will experience when they step through the doors.
Located in the Opportunity district, the pavilion has the theme "Monaco 360°, a world of opportunities".
The National got a first glimpse inside the pavilion on Saturday, ahead of the grand opening of the world fair on October 1.
Visitors are welcomed into a corridor covered in mirrors that act as a kaleidoscope, and then are transported into the Antarctic with huge penguin statues illustrating the nation's commitment to fighting climate change.
The pavilion also aims to highlight the micro-nation’s European culture, as well as its residential communities as the country’s population grows from its current 38,964 inhabitants.
The rock of Monaco
Robert Mueller, the creative director of the pavilion, said the building’s polygonal architecture was inspired by the shape of a raw diamond and the Rock of Monaco – a 62-metre tall monolith on the Mediterranean coast.
“We had asked ourselves what makes a small country so strong," he said.
"Which material is really strong? It has to be a diamond. It is one of the hardest materials on Earth. We liked the idea and we found that a raw diamond has a very interesting shape,” he said.
“It is also like the Rock of Monaco, which is the rock where the Prince’s Palace is rested.”
The Prince’s Palace is the official residence of the Sovereign Prince of Monaco, but it has a dramatic history dating back to 1191 when it often bombarded by enemies.
The ancient rock overlooks Monte Carlo’s port and the Mediterranean Sea, and is covered with medieval narrow streets and monuments that make up Monaco’s Old Town.
Further into the pavilion, an interactive display highlights Monaco’s arts and culture scene.
“The Principality of Monaco is the birthplace of many world-renowned artistic creations,” one of the displays said.
“Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, directed by Jean-Christophe Mallot with the Philharmonic Orchestra, and others, contribute to these riches and make Monaco a shining light on the world stage.
“Museums, theatres and concert halls complete this artistic and cultural offering, which is forever changing and open to the rest of the world.”
A giant wheel with a TV screen on top can be spun, changing the “channel” each time to show the many artists of Monaco.
The Kaleidoscope Show
A highlight of the pavilion is just before the exit, where a room covered in large mirrors in random order gives the optical illusion of being inside a crystal.
Called the Kaleidoscope Show, the feature was designed to tell the history and culture of Monaco to visitors through projections that reflect on the mirrors.
“I had the idea of a kaleidoscope because it's so fascinating,” Mr Mueller said.
“We tried it out with a little model and we had 1,000 reflections. We thought it would make the 360 degrees motto of the pavilion really come to life.”