Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid celebrated 50 years of UAE representation at the world expo - ahead of Dubai's historic hosting of the mega event.
The Vice President and Ruler of Dubai honoured a host of officials who helped set up Emirati pavilions at the international fair from 1970 up until the latest installment in the UAE later this year.
Sheikh Mohammed welcomed the 32 expo organisers at a ceremony at Zabeel Palace and praised them for "paving the way" for future generations.
While the UAE itself was not formed until 1971, an Emirati influence was still felt at the expo in Japan a year earlier.
Sheikh Zayed, the country's Founding Father, dispatched Rashid Abdullah Al Nuaimi to represent Abu Dhabi at the global gathering.
"I set up a tent and had a small model to present and started selling different types of coffee in plastic cups to visitors to be able to afford being at the exhibition," Mr Al Nuaimi told The National back in 2014, just months after Dubai was chosen to bring expo to the Middle East for the first time.
Pioneering Mr Al Nuami was among those invited to the palace engagement.
Sheikh Mohammed said the guests had played a key role in showcasing the country to the world.
"You have paved the way for generations to come to continue the journey of volunteer work and serve the UAE," said Sheikh Mohammed.
Sheikh Mohammed was joined at the ceremony by a number of dignitaries, including Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Co-operation and director-general of the Expo 2020 Dubai bureau.
Expo 2020 Dubai will open in October, with millions of visitors from across the world expected to flock to the emirate to experience a spectacle of international innovation and ingenuity.