Expo 2020 Dubai offers hope and optimism in challenging times – Gulf News

Best part of all Expos is to connect people, build businesses and make the future better
In Downtown Dubai, Shanu (name changed), an Indian delivery person, working for a restaurant was asked to deliver a meal on the 35th floor of a building. A fire drill was taking place at that time and elevators were not functioning.
Shanu, after waiting for a while, took stairs to the 35th floor of the building to fulfil his duty. When asked by the shocked customer, why he took the trouble, Shanu simply replied, “Madam, this is Dubai. Work comes first.”
With such formidable work culture entrenched in its residents, Expo 2020 Dubai was bound to be a success. One has to give full credit to the UAE that was able to pull off one of the biggest events in the world during the height of a pandemic.
Organising the Expo has been a feather in the cap at a time when other big ticket events like Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket, T-20 cricket World Cup, DP World Tour Championship have also been successfully held in the UAE. In spite of the massive coronavirus challenge, the UAE ensured that Expo 2020 Dubai was not delayed beyond a year.
The Expo’s political significance for the region is immense. It is the first World Expo in its more than 150 years history, ever hosted in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region. 
Expo 2020 Dubai offers ample evidence of how 192 participating countries are mesmerised by all that Artificial Intelligence (AI) can do and will be doing in future. At same time the visit to the best of pavilions tell us how we humans have strong enchantment of lives lived in the civilisations gone by.
The Indian pavilion, one of the most visited and third biggest after the host UAE and the Saudi Arabia, offers insights into Ayurveda, Yoga, architectural marvels of the past and its achievements in space science. Ayodhya’s under-construction Ram temple and Kashi Vishwanath corridor, both pet projects of the Modi government, are also showcased.
There is emphatic presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in one corner as LED screens display his diplomatic affairs with the leaders of the world. The overarching theme that is displayed all around is of the Indian cultural identity in many ways — from Taj Mahal to the Ganga ghat in Varanasi.
In UAE, with its 3.5 million strong Indian community, it is no surprise therefore, that half a million visitors have visited the Indian pavilion, already.
Fabio Riccierdi, a teacher from a small Italian village told Gulf News, “The Indian pavilion gives an ‘essence of India’. I am very impressed to be here.”
Indian film maker Shekhar Kapoor who is making a film on the founding father of the UAE, Late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, put it aptly, “This is a place of discovery.”
The four-storeyed pavilion, built on 1.2 acres and designed by Indian architect Dikshu Kukreja, is unique in its exterior. The external façade of 600 colourful movable blocks are used as a giant screen as well. Matching the theme of the week, videos and photos of the Indian colours, culture, monuments, designs, dances, mountains and rivers come alive on it.
The best part of all Expos is to connect people, build businesses and make the future better. This Expo will be remembered by many Indians for its jazzy display of Indian monuments (past) and for the push given by the officials to highlight Indian start-ups (future) to the larger audiences.
Dr. Aman Puri, Consul General of India in Dubai, is trying to bring 500 start-ups companies to the Expo 2020. I met one of the owners, who explained the importance of sustainability for businesses to me. Abdul Majid’s company name is Zero. He showed me a T-shirt made in Jalandhar, out of four used-plastic bottles. His recycling plant in Punjab and Dubai can make sports shoes to jackets out of waste, literally.
UAE is India’s third largest trading partner with annual trade of $60 billion but it is safe to claim that mobility, IA-based tech companies and sustainability-centric businesses can make the partnership more sturdy.
Another start-up company, Airowater, makes water purifier with the help of green technology that harvests water from humidity in the air.
Dhruva Space, an engineering company based in Hyderabad and Austria has raised Rs22 crores in the early days of Expo. Tranzmeo, another start-up company with a 4th generation know-how to fix the anomalies in pipelines and refineries got an offer at the Expo from Abu Dhabi based TransAsia pipes for substantial business. Already, 110 start-ups innovators have tried their luck in Dubai Expo.
Young Indian brains have bright ideas for sustainability, education, health care, IT solutions, lifestyle, agriculture, mobility and space. Expo 2020 Dubai offers them the variety and platform needed to pitch those ideas and proposals.
As Dubai becomes more famous for the “ease of doing business” and for its liberal visa rules, the Expo 2020 is a rare opportunity to overcome the fatigue and challenge posed by the pandemic.
Which city other than Dubai offered you 3 flights to London — every day — even at the height of Covid?
Indians understand the UAE’s penchant of doing business in adversity. Any surprise then that the biggest number of nationals visiting Expo 2020 Dubai are Indians?
Sheela Bhatt is a senior Indian journalist. She is based in New Delhi.

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