US finally begins construction of Expo 2020 pavilion after funding delay

Concrete pouring ceremony kicks off start of construction work ahead of October opening

The new design for the US pavilion is significantly different from the original. Courtesy: US Embassy
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The United States has begun the construction of its pavilion at Expo 2020 after a delay of months due to a funding shortfall.

John Rakolta Jr, the US ambassador to the UAE, Ulrich Brechbühl, counsellor of the Department of State and other officials were present on Tuesday at the Dubai South site as concrete was poured into the foundation.

American participation in the world fair was in doubt after a private consortium failed to attract enough funds. A law passed in the 1990s prevents public funds being used for expos.

The Department of State is helping tell America's story at what will be a world's fair for the ages

The UAE stepped in to bail out the US in January when it agreed to pay for the US pavilion.

How much the UAE funded has not been made public but the design has completely changed. The pavilion was estimated to cost $60 million (Dh220m) when plans were first revealed in 2018.

Most pavilions at Expos are either fully state funded or use a mixture of government money and private sponsorship to build and maintain the temporary structures.

Mr Rakolta said the US pavilion would inspire visitors with its message of freedom of expression.

“The US pavilion will showcase how freedom and liberty of thought have enabled success and innovation for American entrepreneurs and innovators,” he said.

“We will share this message with the millions of visitors who will come to Dubai to attend Expo 2020, and we look forward to welcoming them to the pavilion of the United States of America.”

Ambassador John Rakolta Jr explains the concept for the U.S. pavilion (L-R Mrs. Terry Rakolta, Counselor of the Department T. Ulrich Brechbühl, Director Jim Schwab, Consul General Phil Frayne, Ambassador John Rakolta Jr, and Thinkwell General Manager (EMEA) Amin Rashmani). Courtesy US Embassy Abu Dhabi
US Ambassador John Rakolta and Ulrich Brechbüh, counsellor of the Department of State, oversee the start of construction. Courtesy: US Embassy

The US has said it is grateful to the UAE for its support and enabling its participation in the expo that begins in October.

US officials held meetings on Tuesday with members of American trade groups  to share information on how the pavilion could be used for business development.

Mr Brechbühl said the US was proud to participate in the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East.

“The Department of State is helping tell America’s story at what will be a world’s fair for the ages,” he said.