My Dubai Expo: Meet the woman helping to put Comoros on the map

Rahma Elarif hopes the expo will finally answer questions for people who have never heard of her home country

The Comoros might not possess the largest pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, but you would be hard-pressed to find one more colourful.

Visitors are greeted by Rahma Elarif, who left her home in the Indian Ocean archipelago to seek a new life in Dubai.

For her, the biggest draw of working at the pavilion is the long-awaited opportunity to tell all about her country, having spent more than a decade listening to people say they have never heard of it.

“Since I’ve been in Dubai and told people where I am from, they always look puzzled and say ‘Where is that?’” she said.

What I like best about the Expo is that you get to be part of a fusion of so many different cultures from around the world
Rahma Elarif, Comoros pavilion

Ms Elarif, 33, revels in greeting visitors to the world’s fair with tales about the history and culture of the land she was born in.

As she spoke to The National, a choir performed in the background to mark the Expo’s Comoros Islands country day.

“It means so much to be part of the team welcoming people to the Comoros Islands’ pavilion, and also it’s an honour to be part of the Expo as well,” said Ms Elarif, who earns a living by coaching people on how to speak on camera.

“What I like best about the Expo is that you get to be part of a fusion of so many different cultures from around the world.

“It’s an amazing thing, to be honest.”

The Comoros Islands, with a population of less than 900,000, has a proud history and culture, Ms Elarif said.

She said the country’s presence at Expo was apt, given her homeland was itself a cultural melting pot.

“There are so many different cultures in the Comoros Islands and we vary in so many ways, from how we celebrate our weddings right down to the languages we speak,” Ms Elarif said.

“The main languages we speak are Arabic and French.”

Ms Elarif said her highlight of Expo 2020 so far was being able to find out about other nations.

“What I like the most is you can learn about all the other countries and be educated about the differing cultures,” she said.

“There is a feel-good factor as everyone is blown away that they can come into one place and learn so much.

“It’s important to be able to bring people together and show them about the other cultures from around the world.”

Updated: November 9th 2021, 6:34 AM