Expo 2020 Dubai: SL back in action

By The Sunday Morning Business Desk

Sri Lanka has resumed the necessary preparatory work to participate in Expo 2020 Dubai as expo organisers have confirmed that the preliminary work is underway to commence the six-month-long event in October 2021.

Speaking to The Sunday Morning Business, National Chamber of Exporters (NCE) Secretary General/CEO Shiham Marikar stated that discussions are in progress to make changes to the Terms of Reference (ToR), as the initially planned promotional strategies have to be modified to suit the post-Covid-19 environment.

“We have highlighted that the ToR has to be changed. We want to highlight tourism to a greater extent. New strategies will come into play,” Marikar stated.

The World Expo is one of the largest international events that takes place once every five years, and this time, Dubai has been selected as the venue. It will mainly focus on tourism, investment promotion, and trade.

When asked what the new promotional strategies would be, Marikar stated that they would only be finalised within the next two to three months.

“If we take tourism, the airport is still closed, so we are yet to decide how to promote tourism in the expo. But there will be changes. We are also not very clear as to what to do,” he noted.

The expo that would be held for a period of six months was initially scheduled to be held in October 2020. The Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), the intergovernmental organisation in charge of overseeing and regulating World Expos, postponed the expo to October 2021 following the peak of the pandemic in May.

Nevertheless, it was not clear whether the BIE was undertaking any preliminary work at all, creating questions over further postponement. However, last week, BIE Secretary General Dimitri Kerkentzes took to Twitter to state that pavilion construction is progressing well as the pandemic has not impacted the preparation of the exhibition.

Sri Lanka’s participation at Expo 2020 Dubai was hanging in the balance as of January this year due to bureaucratic delays and the absence of required funds. Nevertheless, the postponement of the expo due to Covid-19 came as a blessing in disguise for Sri Lanka.

However, Marikar confirmed that Sri Lanka would be able to complete the necessary work in due course this time as most of the ground work is prepared and completed. According to him, an event management company will be confirmed soon after making amendment to the ToR.

The expo will be held under the theme “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”. The three subthemes are opportunity, mobility, and sustainability, based on which the master floor plan differs.

Sri Lanka’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai will be located in the opportunity district which consists of 212 square metres of exhibit area on the ground floor and 172 square metres of office space on the first floor. The Sri Lankan pavilion will be organised under the title “Island of Ingenuity”.

Expo 2020 Dubai is expected to attract over 25 million visitors, of which 70% will be international visitors. It is also expected that there will be more than 200 participants during the span of six months to showcase their countries.