Meet the Polish pavilion chief who moved his family 4,800km for Expo 2020 Dubai

Adrian Malinowski, commissioner general of the Poland pavilion, says he and his family are enjoying a big adventure in the emirate

Adrian Malinowski and his wife Agnieszka Malinowska, with their daughter Amelia and son Anthony, in Dubai. Antonie Robertson / The National
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Sitting in a villa surrounded by lush green landscapes in The Springs, Adrian Malinowski says it was a leap of faith that brought he and his family to Dubai.

Since landing in the desert from Warsaw in Poland in the summer, Mr Malinowski and his wife Agnieszka Malinowska have moved into a new home, enrolled their two young children in school and, like most in Dubai, tried every tip and trick to cool down in the soaring heat; albeit unsuccessfully.

In January last year, Mr Malinowski was presented with a career move he could not refuse.

Polish people are very family orientated so it was a bold move. At first, my children were a little insecure, they were leaving friends, family, but now they love it here
Adrian Malinowski, general commissioner for Polish Pavilion

“People work their whole life to be offered a position like this,” he told The National.

“The opportunity to become the commissioner general of the Poland pavilion at Expo came about right before pandemic struck and I never got the chance to visit the city before the travel ban happened.

“So there I was, working in a job that was 4,800km from the city I was living in.

“I had to get to know my team and be hands-on with all things Expo without even setting foot in the city.”

Unlike others that have moved to Dubai temporarily to work at the world’s fair, Mr Malinowski made the decision to uproot his family in Poland and settle in the UAE. For him, there was no other way to do it.

“When I took that job, my main goal was to ensure my family were able to move with me,” he said.

“Polish people are very family orientated so it was a bold move. At first, my children were a little insecure, they were leaving friends, family, but now they love it here.

“We quickly learnt that the pool was a great way to cool down, that’s where we spend a lot of our time unwinding together as a family.”

Emirati food is now a favourite

Although only six weeks into their new life abroad, the couple said they have quickly adapted to life in the UAE. So too have their children, aged 8 and 4, who have already come on "leaps and bounds with their English language".

From trying the local cuisine – machboos and shawarmas being top favourites – to visiting the wadis and mountains in Sharjah, their plan to stay in the country for a only a year could be up for debate come August 2022.

“We have heard many people say they came to Dubai for a short time but they ended up staying longer, that speaks volumes,” he said.

“We love Poland, it’s our home, but this is our first time living away as a family. It’s a great adventure and who knows how long it will last.”

Asked whether they were happy to trade the lush green landscapes in Poland for the beige hues of Dubai, the couple said it had been “a fair trade off”.

“Okay, so we can’t stroll in the woods of Poland or walk through green fields for miles, but the services here are top notch, life is good and the people are so diverse,” said Mr Malinowski.

“We have lost some aspects of home but in the same breath, we have gained more in our new home, Dubai.”

Now affectionately called as “ambassadors for Poland” by friends, the family said Expo was a great platform to give the people of the UAE and the world a taste of what Poland had to offer.

Under the theme "Creativity Inspired by Nature", Ms Malinowska said the pavilion showed how well the country could adapt in an ever changing world.

“It is something we have had to do for the past 18 months because of the pandemic. We were forced to adapt new situations and we came out of it,” she said.

“When people visit the Polish pavilion, we want them to see that our home is a very interesting place.

“We get creative through art, technology, games, I think it will surprise visitors because maybe they are not so familiar with Poland?”

Positioned in the Mobility District, the pavilion is open from 10am to 10pm daily.

Visitors can take a rest in the shade of a kinetic sculpture representing flying birds, experience contemporary Poland through design and immersive projections and enjoy live performances from pianists, DJs and singers in the outdoor zone.

Expo 2020 Dubai - in pictures

Updated: October 05, 2021, 6:44 PM