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Can Expo 2020 Dubai serve as a catalyst to change the world? – Arab News

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DUBAI: In physical build and ideology, the Expo 2020 Dubai is remarkable.
While its impressive architectural playground of avant-garde, high-tech, and previously unthinkable attractions is nothing short of impressive, so is Expo 2020’s mission to impart new ideas, ways of thinking and solutions for the world’s most pressing problems.
As the opening date of Dubai’s largest event draws near, already organizers and participants are thinking about its legacy — not just the physical one, but the ideological one: What will be the ideas that visitors will take away? How can Expo 2020 serve as a catalyst to change the world? Responses to such crucial questions will be explored in Expo 2020’s Programme for People and Planet, a line-up of events, experiences, thought-leadership and public conversations that aim to creatively foster solutions to the challenges presently facing the world.
“This could not be a more urgent or opportune time for what we are trying to do,” Nadia Verjee, chief of staff at Expo 2020 Dubai, told Arab News. “The Programme for People and Planet is the manifestation of our theme and purpose, ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.’ It will not only form an essential part of our event-time activities but will also catalyze a one-of-a-kind movement to shape the legacy that Expo 2020 leaves the world, long after we close our doors.”
The program is set to run across the six months of Expo 2020.
It will be anchored by 10 theme weeks and 18 international days, each of which will explore key issues of global significance, including mitigating climate change and biodiversity loss to making human habitats more sustainable, bridging the digital divide, and ensuring equal access to education and healthcare.
Its main themes include technology and innovation, youth and women and girl’s empowerment.
Talks and events will be led by experts, including wildlife advocate Dame Jane Goodall, Eden Project founder Sir Tim Smit, and Sarah Al-Amiri, the UAE minister of state for advanced technology as well as the woman behind the Emirates Mars Mission, the 191 nations participating in Expo 2020, business leaders, grassroots actors, and the wider global community.
“Since COVID, and over the course of the last year and a half, the international community has become more pressed to solve the challenges that face us as people and a planet going forward,” said Verjee. “This program has been designed to coalesce all of those interests and bring all of those nations together under an umbrella framework of 10 key themes that form the backbone of our program as an expo.”
Expo 2020, which retains the year the event was originally scheduled, will open its doors next month from Oct. 1 through to March 31, 2022, and coincides with the UAE’s golden jubilee.
It is expected to draw millions of visitors to the UAE.
However, there’s no denying that the expo has had to adapt to the hurdles posed by the pandemic.
“We want this expo to be highly relevant during a COVID era so that the heart of all of this are the sustainable development goals, the agenda 2030, and putting people and planet first.”
Verjee said the program was conceived “in harmony and selected by the countries” that the expo worked closely with during the pandemic to ensure the subject matter would resonate around issues that were priorities for each of them.
The 10 themed weeks will kick off with conversations on climate change, followed by the subject of space and, in March, will conclude with the topic of water.
“What we have tried to achieve across all of these different subject matters, irrespective of what they are, is to create a space for every single voice to be heard,” she added.
This ideological aspect of the expo mirrors the setting of a major international conference, with the inclusion of similar players but open to all who wish to foster ways to bring about global change.
“Typically in the UN setting, countries gather for a period of days per year to discuss all of these issues but in a policy setting; the value of the World Expo is to bring all of those stakeholders together, whether you are a policy maker, whether you are a business or a private sector representative, whether you are an innovator or just an individual from any walk of life interested more in learning about the world and the role that you can play in it, this structure of players, regardless of the theme, is really compelling for us.”
One of the most important principles and missions of Expo 2020 is the importance of educating visitors so that the experience stays with them long after its doors have closed.
“What we hope to offer visitors is this exposure to different people, places and ideas from around the world, and if they are able to turn that into knowledge and understand better the Comoros, Jamaica or Cuba, and maybe even travel there as a result, then you begin to create better-informed individuals that transcend that level of consciousness about places and people, seeing instead the similarities and connections between various parts and cultures of the world.”
RAMALLAH: On the last day of Ramadan, the Israeli army escalated its campaign of arrests and raids against Palestinians in several cities and towns in the West Bank.
It detained 12 Palestinians from the villages of Qarawat Bani Hassan, Jalazun refugee camp, Merka, Sanur, Salem town, and the Balata refugee camp in Nablus.
There were clashes between Palestinian youths and the Israeli armed forces, with five youths sustaining bullet injuries.
An Israeli spokesperson said the army and the Shin Bet security service carried out an engineering survey of the house of the perpetrators of Friday’s Ariel settlement attack, which resulted in the killing of an Israeli security guard.
On Saturday, the Israeli army announced arresting the perpetrators of the attack in a house in the town of Qarawat Bani Hassan near Salfit. The weapons used in the attack were seized.
Medical sources said 18 Palestinians were killed by Israeli bullets during Ramadan.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry called on the US to pressure Israel to stop the policy of collective punishment against Palestinians and urged it to fulfill its obligations and avoid double standards.
The ministry said in a statement that the US administration’s keenness to make efforts to calm the situation must be accompanied by translating its pledges into practical steps, especially its positions regarding equal rights to freedom, dignity, and prosperity for both sides.
The ministry condemned the attacks of the occupying forces and settler militias on Palestinians in Palestinian towns and villages.
Israel is imposing a security closure on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip crossings, starting from May 3 until the evening of May 6 because of Israel’s Independence Day. The Israeli army spokesperson said the decision to end the closure would depend on the security situation on the ground.
The Israeli army said it would hold military maneuvers next week in the city of Wadi Ara to train its forces to deal with confrontations erupting in mixed towns, similar to what happened in May last year.
Israeli sources said the maneuvers would take place on a large scale, noting they were part of the lessons learned from the “Guardian of the Fences” operation launched against Hamas in May last year.
The maneuvers will simulate several scenarios of moving the battle from the Gaza and Lebanon fronts to the areas of the West Bank and Jerusalem, including mixed cities such as Lod, Ramle, Haifa, Jerusalem, and others, in addition to imposing the closure of several main roads and the handling of any confrontations by the special forces.
In a statement on the occasion of Labor Day, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics said the number of workers in Palestine was around 1.3 million — 630,000 in the West Bank, 259,000 in the Gaza Strip, and 145,000 in Israel and the settlements.
It said the number of unemployed Palestinians had increased to 372,000 in 2021, compared to 335,000 in 2020.
CAIRO: Sharm El-Sheikh hotels have begun implementing green practices in preparation for Egypt’s hosting of the 27th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Climate Change (COP27).
The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said 86 hotels in Sharm El-Sheikh had either already obtained or applied for a certificate stating the application of green practices.
They include 22 facilities that have already obtained the certificate and 48 that have applied for it. Work is underway to implement the suitable practices in preparation for obtaining the certificate. There are 16 hotel facilities that are completing the procedures for obtaining it.
The ministry is making efforts to transform the tourism sector into one that is environmentally friendly, sustainable, and in line with the objectives of its Sustainable Development Strategy 2030.
Head of the Central Department of Hotel Establishments, Shops and Tourist Activities in the ministry, Mohamed Amer, said there would be follow-up and coordination between the General Department for Control and Inspection of Hotel Establishments in the ministry and representatives from companies awarding this certificate to identify any challenges the establishments faced in implementing environmental standards and try to overcome them.
He added that cooperation was also taking place with representatives of hotel establishments to speed up the procedures for obtaining this certificate through coordination with companies, especially before COP27.
In mid-March, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, in coordination and cooperation with the Chamber of Hotel Establishments, organized a workshop attended by officials of 45 hotel establishments in Sharm El-Sheikh, which applied to obtain the Green Star Certificate, which is one of the certificates for environmentally friendly green practices, to familiarize them with the program of this certificate, and the requirements and practices that must be met and applied within the facility to obtain it.
CAIRO: Egypt is preparing to open one of the largest religious projects in the world, the “Great Transfiguration,” in the governorate of South Sinai, Gov. Maj. Gen. Khaled Fouda has said.
The area is a sacred site for the world’s three major monotheistic religions and includes Saint Catherine’s Monastery as well as Mount Sinai, where, according to the Bible, God spoke to Moses.
In an interview with the House of Representatives, Fouda said: “The Great Transfiguration project includes unique things and will completely change the city, and is being implemented within the framework of the political leaders’ interest in developing the tourism sector.”
The project aims to establish a spiritual shrine above the mountains surrounding the Holy Valley, making it a destination for spiritual, healing and environmental tourism worldwide. It also aims to provide recreational services for visitors while preserving local nature.
The Great Transfiguration will include the establishment of more than 14 projects in the mountains surrounding Wadi Towa in the South Sinai Governorate, with the aim of transforming the region into a major religious tourism hub.
The governor said that the project is being implemented in two phases at a cost of 4 billion Egyptian pounds ($216 million). The first phase will be completed in May and the second at the end of 2022.
Fouda said: “The world will witness the city of Saint Catherine’s in her new dress in just a year.”
He added that a new residential area in Zaytouna will be established, comprising 580 housing units. The project will also launch a new 216-room eco-lodge, the redevelopment of an existing eco-lodge, as well as the establishment of a desert garden and mountain hotel.
Fousa said that a “Darb Musa” walk will be established that replicates the historical path of Moses through Wadi Al-Raha to Mount Sinai.
A Peace Square will also be built as part of the Great Transfiguration project. The square includes a plaza for outdoor celebrations, a museum building, theater, conference hall, cafeteria and meeting rooms. A hotel and new administrative complex will also be constructed.
The area will also be developed through the establishment a commercial area with bazaars, a youth center and the redevelopment of the historic town center.
LONDON: Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed on Saturday said he would spare no effort to provide all possible support to Yemen, hailing “the historical relations uniting the two nations,” state news agency WAM reported.
Sheikh Mohammed also affirmed his country’s support for the newly established Yemeni Presidential Leadership Council “to fulfill its national responsibilities toward ensuring the stability and security of Yemen and to achieve the aspirations of its people for development and progress.”
He spoke during a meeting with members of the council and Rashad Al-Alimi, who was appointed head of the council on April 7 after former President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi transferred his powers to it on the final day of intra-Yemeni talks led by the Gulf Cooperation Council in Riyadh.
Sheikh Mohammed congratulated Al-Alimi on assuming Yemen’s leadership and wished him “success in serving his country and its people, overcoming the difficult circumstances it is going through, and moving forward toward stability and peace,” WAM reported.
Al-Alimi thanked the UAE for its “continuous support to Yemen and its people in these exceptional circumstances” and its active participation within the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen in supporting efforts to achieve economic stability, Yemen’s SABA news agency reported.
He said Yemen is an integral part of the Arab world that is committed to “protecting Arab national security” and “is working to strengthen its relations with its partners,” especially coalition members Saudi Arabia and the UAE, who “shared with Yemen its national battle and its central issue of restoring the state and confronting the Iranian destructive mission in Yemen and the region.”
Al-Alimi, who also visited Saudi Arabia on Wednesday and held talks with the king and crown prince, added that the process of rebuilding state institutions in Yemen and achieving economic stability requires all countries’ cooperation and support, SABA said.
During their meeting at Qasr Al-Bahr in Abu Dhabi, the two sides exchanged greetings for the upcoming Muslim Eid Al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, and discussed ways of strengthening relations and intensifying efforts to rehabilitate war torn-Yemen.
LONDON: Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed wished Pakistan’s new leader success in leading his country toward further progress and prosperity,” the official WAM news agency reported on Saturday.
He was speaking during a meeting with Shahbaz Sharif during his visit to the UAE.
Sharif became prime minister on April 11.
Sheikh Mohammed praised the historical relations between the two nations and the “valuable contributions made by the Pakistani community in the UAE to the country’s successful development drive.”
He also pledged the UAE’s support toward all steps that would lead to achieving regional and international peace and cooperation.
Sharif commended the UAE’s great support Pakistan and stressed his keenness to strengthen relations with the Emirates in various fields.
The two leaders also reviewed a number of regional and international issues of common concern.

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