My Dubai Expo: Palau pavilion guide proud of 'pristine paradise' nation

Republic of Palau has only 20,000 citizens – and five of them are in Dubai for the world's fair

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As a citizen of a nation with only 20,000 people, Emmaimellei Fritz regularly has to show Expo 2020 Dubai visitors where to find Palau on the map.

Located 890 kilometres east of the Philippines, in the Micronesian region of the Pacific Ocean, Palau is an archipelago of more than 500 islands with a fascinating history.

The Germans, Spanish, Japanese and Americans have at one time colonised the country, but now it is fiercely independent.

"We are a proud nation," Ms Fritz said. "We are proud of our pristine paradise."

Palauans are friendly and the country is famous for its scuba diving, its jellyfish lake – and it is summer all year round
Emmaimellei Fritz, Palau pavilion

Five Palauans flew over for Expo 2020 Dubai and will remain in the emirate for six months, living away from their families. They arrived on September 23 and are staying in the Expo Village.

"It's a great opportunity, I had never been to Dubai before and it's amazing," said Ms Fritz.

"It feels amazing to be representing our nation. We were nominated by the Palau Chamber of Commerce to represent Palau."

Learning from the ocean

The pavilion is proving popular, with regular visitors popping in to tour the colourful exhibits on the archipelago's varied flora and fauna.

With its 'Learning from the Ocean', the focus of the pavilion is on conservation and promoting responsible tourism.

Palau has more species of marine life than any other area of similar size in the world, and also the highest concentration of marine lakes – unique biospheres that have been separated from the ocean by land barriers, and continue to yield discoveries of new species.

The country believes it can be a role model for the rest of the world, due to a century-old practice called "bul", through which the delicate ecosystem of the islands was managed sustainably.

This involved making certain parts of the reef off-limits to fishing during spawning and feeding to allow fish to thrive. Now, bul has become the philosophy on which the nation has based its new 500,000-square-metre marine reserve.

Tourism is the main industry in Palau but thanks to its isolated position, the country has only had three cases of Covid-19. More than 90 per cent of its inhabitants are vaccinated.

Ms Fritz hopes the pavilion will encourage more people to visit the country.

"It is summer all year round in Palau, and very tropical," she said.

"Palauans are friendly and the country is famous for its scuba diving, jellyfish lake [which is home to millions of golden jellyfish] and the only shark sanctuary in the world."

As for tourists exploring Expo 2020 Dubai, Ms Fritz recommended they should visit the other Pacific Island pavilions, as well as the Russian structure.

Diving in Blue Hole Cave, Palau. Getty Images
Updated: October 27, 2021, 1:14 PM