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Expo 2020 Dubai and its 190-plus participating countries have re-affirmed commitment to working together to achieve shared goals and making strong progress with preparations for the global event, which will begin on 1 October 2021.

Organisers, members of the Expo 2020 Dubai Higher Committee and BIE representatives, plus participants, commercial partners and government officials from around the world, are convening virtually from 24-27 August for the Fifth Expo 2020 International Participants Meeting (IPM), where they will discuss updates on site operations, facilities management, Expo 2020’s events and programming calendar, and content related to marketing, communications and media services.

During Tuesday’s meeting saw speeches by by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Cabinet Member and UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President, Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman of the Expo 2020 Dubai Higher Committee; Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Cabinet Member and UAE Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence and Commissioner General of Expo 2020 Dubai; Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashemy, Minister of State for International Cooperation, Expo 2020 Dubai Bureau; and Dimitri Kerkentzes, Secretary General of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE).

Expo 2020’s resilient response to the current global health crisis has enabled progress towards the next World Expo to continue unabated. Following the completion of Expo-led construction at the end of 2019, work this year has focused on landscaping the site and fitting out the Expo-owned buildings. Preparations for the Country Pavilions also continue at pace, underscoring the strong commitment that participants continue to show for the event.

Addressing the meeting, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said: “On behalf of the United Arab Emirates, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the Expo 2020 International Participants Meeting. This year has brought challenges. Challenges to our hopes, our expectations, and our dreams. But it has also taught us many important lessons. This year, we have been reminded that humankind cannot overcome adversity when we act alone, and that a burden becomes lighter when it is shared. Never before has our generation witnessed such a powerful display of human solidarity as we stand together side by side, against this pandemic and the pain it has caused across the world.”

Sheikh Abdullah added: “Just as the challenges we face today are global in scale, our collective response stems from our belief in the shared destiny of humanity as a whole. What unites us is so much greater than what divides us. Today we come together as equals, united in our determination to overcome these obstacles, to explore additional opportunities for collaboration and to inspire each other to drive towards a future where we don’t just survive, but we thrive. For us in the UAE, Expo 2020 Dubai has been a journey that we have shared with the world since the very beginning.”

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It is a journey of human solidarity, he continued, “inspired by our collective desire to create a brighter future a future where we can all realise our ambitions and achieve our potential, regardless of race or belief. I stand before you today, honoured to be on this journey alongside you. Our shared path may seem a little longer than we first anticipated, but I trust that we will reach our destination together, inspired by the resilience and courage of our frontline heroes, who have set the finest examples in combating one of humanity’s greatest challenges. Thank you to you and your governments for your continued support.”

Sheikh Abdullah also thanked the International Organisation for Exhibitions, led by my friend Dimitri, who, he said, together with his team, were able to guide the work with great professionalism, in difficult international circumstances. Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the United Arab Emirates, a nation with a deep rooted spirit of inclusivity, hospitality and hope for the future at its heart.

“I extend a warm invitation to all of you and your people, to join us and celebrate alongside the more than 200 nationalities who are proud to call this nation their home,” Sheikh Abdullah concluded.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President, Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman of the Expo 2020 Dubai Higher Committee, said: “The agility and responsiveness of Dubai and the UAE has been instrumental in the swift re-opening of the country’s tourism sector. Coupled with its infrastructure and facilities, including airlines and hotels, Dubai has emerged quickly from what has been a challenging period for the whole world.

“Dubai has a deep-rooted history of bringing people together to encourage positive change. The Expo 2020 theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ that has guided our preparations reflects this and is now more relevant than ever. Expo 2020 and its hundreds of participants will highlight the importance of international collaboration and cooperation to help contribute to global progress.

“Expo 2020 is aligned with Dubai and the UAE’s commitment to building a brighter future and acting in solidarity with countries and communities around the world. We are delighted to join with our participants at the IPM to share updates, experiences and ideas as we continue to move forward together on our journey to Expo 2020.”

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An image of Dubai Expo site

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Cabinet Member and Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence, and Commissioner General of Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “I am delighted and inspired by the resolve of the Expo community to push forward in the delivery of this important event. I am proud of the passion and diligence of my fellow Commissioners General, and I am excited by the potential of our collective efforts to learn, to grow, and to fulfil the mandate of our nations, and of the World Expo itself.”

Addressing the meeting, Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashemy thanked Their Highnesses for “their thoughtful and inspiring words.”

“I would also like to thank His Excellency Dimitri Kerkentzes for his counsel and support and for his timely reminder of the value of close multilateral and bilateral cooperation and coordination. For his challenge to us all to focus on the quality of our content and programming. For his reassurance that the postponement of our Expo has only opened new and exciting windows of opportunity. When I one day cast my mind back to these past weeks and months, to a postponement that we did not expect but that we will employ to our shared and lasting benefit, I will remember the depth of our global anxiety, and the overwhelming breadth of our collective uncertainty. Yet I will also remember the best of human nature: how we have kept the conversation going because connecting with others has been so invaluable in this time of crisis. I will recall how we have kept building and planning, because we all have in our minds what we want to achieve, and we are committed to that vision and will not be swayed from our path.”

“How we have kept going,” she continued, “because the world needs a World Exposition in 2021. You told us that when you supported our proposal for postponement. Thank you. We will not forget it, nor will we let you down. If 2020 has been a year in which we have all been forced to look after ourselves, then next year will be the moment and Expo the platform from which we are able to reach out again, across land and sea, and fully embrace our neighbours near and far.”

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“So what do we believe the world will look like in 2021? she wondered. “We are eagerly anticipating the creation, production and fair and equitable distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine. However, we are not relying solely on that, as we would do a disservice to the victims of this terrible disease, were we not to learn from what we have endured, and use that knowledge to build a safer, more resilient and more connected future. At Expo we know we need to deliver better than what was planned before. We have the chance to respond to how our world has changed. And so we must seek new definitions of success. We must drive additional returns on investment. We must achieve tangible positive outcomes. We must inform wisely and inspire utterly, a world that deserves better than it has today.

“Over the course of the next few days we will take a close look at what we all need to do to help honour our commitments to Expo and to the world, from site construction and pavilion delivery, to operations, to content and programming, to sales, marketing, and communications. We will tell you what actions we have taken these past few months, including the various measures on-site to best ensure the health and safety of tens of thousands of workers who have together completed our Expo site construction.

“We will tell you what we are doing right now to enable your participation and lay the foundation for the successful attainment of your many and varied goals. What you can do and need to do this very day, to deliver on your commitments and vision. How you can finish building your pavilions, and fill those pavilions with outstanding and unique content, to meet our shared end-year deadlines. And we will tell you what we have planned for the future – how we are putting in place exciting pre-event programming, a superlative digital offering, and even enhancements to the National and Honour Day programme that represents your moment to truly take centre stage at Expo. All of which you can and must avail of in order to achieve the true potential of this Expo.”

“Today is different,” she continued, “but it doesn’t mean we have lost our connection; if anything, our connection is stronger than ever because we’re still here, even though we are apart. We are still here because we believe. And we have to believe in what we do because sometimes that’s the only thing that lightens the weight of leadership. We need the knowledge that it matters; that we are committed to something meaningful and necessary, so that we can keep doing what we are doing, even when faced by unexpected challenges.”

Al Hashemy concluded by saying that at a time of global suffering, in a moment of darkness, the spotlight shines brightly upon all of us. “Because we have the tools to build. We have the responsibility to deliver. And we have the opportunity to change this world for the better.”

Dimitri Kerkentzes, Secretary General of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), the governing body of World Expos, said: “Dubai and the UAE along with all participating countries have continued to make remarkable progress towards delivering the next World Expo despite the impact and challenges of a global pandemic. Over the coming days, organisers and participants will exchange closely to ensure that Expo 2020 is an exceptional event, reminding us of the unlimited opportunities that are made possible when we come together as one.”

Every country will contribute to Expo 2020’s dynamic, diverse and ever-changing events programme, while Expo 2020 has continued to develop its specialist programming, which will highlight some of the world’s most pressing challenges, including climate change, health and wellness, inequality and environmental degradation.

Themed weeks and international day events will encourage partners, participants and visitors to explore global issues and commit to collective action against them. This will build on Expo’s existing efforts in bringing the world together to facilitate progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The first World Expo in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, Expo 2020 will run for six months from 1 October 2021 until 31 March 2022. The event will coincide with the 50-year anniversary of the founding of the UAE, and highlight the country’s role as a global connecting hub for people, ideas, and innovation.

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