Expo 2020: US pavilion to be completed in November after getting Dh220 million funding from UAE

The US hopes to attract additional support from American businesses and foundations

The United States is back on track to complete the main construction on its Expo pavilion in two months after getting $60 million (Dh220 million) funding from the UAE.

The project was temporarily derailed due to financial constraints.

John Rakolta Jr, the US ambassador to the UAE, said in an online media briefing on Tuesday that the country was grateful to the UAE and hoped to attract additional funding over the coming year.

We have benefited greatly from the gift of the UAE to the United States

“We have benefited greatly from the gift of the UAE to the United States,” he said.

“The first $60 million was provided by the UAE.”

A private organisation had been set up to raise further funds from businesses and foundations.

“What we are trying to do right now is to attract private-sector companies to come and get involved,” he said.

“One is to come and attend the Expo and another is to choose one of the multiple programming opportunities that are out there. Companies can talk about their products, services, the technology they are employing.”

American participation in the world fair was in jeopardy last year after a private consortium failed to attract sufficient funds.

Most pavilions at Expos are either fully financed by governments or use a combination of state and private sponsorship to build and maintain the temporary structures.

Construction of the US pavilion at the World Fair in Dubai will be completed in November after delays due to a funding shortfall until the UAE stepped in to pay for the structure earlier this year. The tagline of the new US pavilion is life, liberty and the pursuit of the future. The message will be to showcase American innovation and entrepreneurship.  Space will be one of the main themes of the pavilion. Courtesy: USA Pavilion at Expo 2020

The US began construction of the pavilion earlier this year after the UAE stepped in to bail it out in January.

The UAE's contribution of $60 million (Dh220m) towards the structure is line with the initial estimates when the pavilion plans were revealed in 2018.

Its design has since changed completely and will now be enveloped by a star-covered facade.

The earlier model had slated supports to give visitors a feeling that the structure was in motion.

“The star motif brings the whole pavilion and the connection to the United States to life,” Mr Rakolta said.

“It is something you will see woven into our entire pavilion as we inspire visitors to reach for the stars.”

The core message is of life, liberty with a focus on the future.

“You will see a lot more messaging along those lines of innovation, entrepreneurship, a level playing field, the protection of intellectual property,” he said.

“This is to showcase a society in the US that is incredibly inventive, able to create a culture of innovation.”

The embassy aims to bring on board companies related to space and technology.

Space will be a key theme, with moon rock memorabilia picked up by US astronauts and a towering rocket model installed outdoors.

Youth will be another feature, with 75 young ambassadors who will also act as guides.

The embassy has partnered with an American company to recruit young people who are bilingual and speak Arabic.

The US is keen to participate in cultural performances on stages across the Expo venue from small arenas for 250 people to the Al Wasl Plaza, which can hold more than 8,000 people.

“We will feature more than 300 performances by American artistes, musicians, dancers, speakers and writers and bring in the best of America to Expo 2020,” Mr Rakolta said.

“Our goal is to present a cultural programme that represents the geography and culture of the US to a diverse audience and tell the American story.”

The US had begun recruitment for the cultural programmes, with details and information available at usapavilion.org.

Mr Rakolta recently returned from Washington, where he witnessed the diplomatic accords signed between the UAE, Bahrain and Israel at the White House last week.

He said the signing reflected renewed prospects for peace in the region.

“We have indeed entered a new era of cooperation in the region led by the USA and the UAE,” he said.

“We are moving to a much more inclusive society here that has all kinds of additional benefits. The biggest one is trade, job opportunities, prosperity and peace –, that is what it represents.”