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Jamaica Doing Well At World Expo In Dubai – Jamaica Information Service – Government of Jamaica, Jamaica Information Service

Minister of Education and Youth, Hon. Fayval Williams (left), and Opposition Spokesperson on Education, Dr. Angela Brown-Burke (second left), interact with a student from Union Gardens Infant School in Kingston, during the virtual launch of the year of Early Childhood Development, which was held today (January 25). Joining them are Commissioner from the Early Childhood Commission (ECC), David Solomon (second right), and ECC Chairwoman, Trisha Williams-Singh.
 
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Jamaica has been punching above its weight at World Expo 2020 Dubai, the six-month-long expo that got under way on October 1, 2021 and has seen an impressive 10 million visitors up to mid-January 2022.
Taking advantage of its strategic location in the mobility area of the exposition grounds, Jamaica has attracted approximately one per cent of the total Expo visitors and made significant connections for business partnerships and investments into the country.
With an average of 1,200 to 1,500 visitors per day, Commissioner General of Section, Jamaica Pavilion, at World Expo 2020 Dubai, Essie Gardner, shares with JIS News factors that have contributed to the popularity of the Jamaica Pavilion.
“We have Jamaicans in the Pavilion and that is a big deal, especially for non-Jamaicans who come and realise that we are speaking from a position of knowledge and ownership. That is a big plus and the fact that when you step into the Pavilion, you are hearing reggae music,” she notes.
“When people step into the Pavilion they go ‘ah, this is it. We are in the Caribbean’. From the colours to the fact that they get a little bit about our history, and our sporting greats. They get a little bit of our music and tastings from time to time and we offer samples of Blue Mountain Coffee every day, and that is a big hit,” Ms. Gardner shares.
Along with daily samples of coffee, which is a considerable part of Emirati culture, the Jamaica Pavilion has formed a relationship with the Dubai-based Jamaican restaurant, Miss Lilly’s, to supply samples of jerked chicken and/or patties to the Pavilion visitors.
Apart from the samples received in the Jamaica Pavilion, visitors are free to purchase the authentic Jamaican products available, such as ackee and hot sauces.
The Head of the Jamaica Pavilion shares that there is a great demand for Jamaican products, so much so, that the team is organising another shipment of Jamaican products to Dubai.
The Jamaican delegation in Dubai comprises representatives from the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) and the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA).
“We do have a couple of items and they are going like hot bread. Some things which we did not bring but which we get a lot of questions about are honey, jams and jellies. So, there is really significant interest in Jamaican products,” says Ms. Gardner.
In addition to interest in purchasing Jamaican products, the Commissioner General tells JIS News that several connections have been made with countries that are interested in exploring investment and business relationships with Jamaica.
The team from the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority plays a pivotal role in attracting business investments to Jamaica and is part of the Jamaica Pavilion team in Dubai.
“There is quite a bit of interest in Jamaica and we have started discussions. We have facilitated meetings between the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and the Jamaica Manufacturers [and Exporters] Association. One of the meetings JSEZA had recently was with CMA-CGM, which operates in Jamaica mainly in the area of transhipment, to see whether they would be interested in expanding beyond that. They actually came back to the table with more things they would like to collaborate with Jamaica on, so, yes, there is very strong interest in Jamaica,” Ms. Gardner says.
She notes that interest in Jamaica has also been expressed by companies from India, Poland and Malaysia. Some of the expressions of interest have been a result of the monthly fora hosted by the Jamaica Pavilion team on business and tourism. The JSEZA and JTB representatives lead the business and tourism fora, respectively.
“The tourism fora target travel professionals. What we are doing is building a cadre of persons in this area who can sell vacations to Jamaica. We have pulled together members of the Jamaican Tourism fraternity who are willing to be part of packages. Dubai National Air Travel Agency is one of the largest tour operators in the Middle East and they are the ones that are packaging and selling Jamaica right now, so we are going through and training all their agents, so that they are able to sell Jamaica,” Ms. Gardner explains.
Similarly, the business fora focus on doing business in Jamaica and share with participants information they would need to do so and why they should want to do business in Jamaica. These sessions, Ms. Gardner says, had “very strong engagement and amazing questions”.
In all the activities undertaken at the Jamaica Pavilion, the delegation in Dubai has had great support from Jamaicans in the diaspora. This support comes in various forms, from volunteering in the Pavilion to supplying three members of the five-a-side Jamaican football team, which won its first match in the Expo’s football competition.
“The Jamaican Middle East diaspora has been extremely supportive of the Jamaica Pavilion. They have helped to bring life into the Pavilion. They make it their business to come and support the team on the ground and we have volunteers as often as is possible.
They come in and do a jam session at times, for example, there is one Jamaican who enjoys playing music and he will come in on any given Friday evening and have a jam session or play dominoes,” Ms. Gardner notes.
She says Jamaicans in the Middle East are “very proud of the fact that Jamaica is holding her own on this world stage,” and have adopted the Pavilion as their own, contributing wherever they can to the spread of the Jamaican culture and heritage and to the success of the Pavilion.
All eyes will be on the Jamaica Pavilion on February 18 as the focal point for activities in recognition of Jamaica Day. Each country represented at World Expo is recognised and celebrated through a National or Honour Day where the Pavilion displays its national pride in numerous ways.
World Expos are global gatherings of nations dedicated to finding solutions to pressing challenges around the core values of education, innovation, and cooperation.
World Expo 2020 Dubai is being held up to March 31, 2022, under the theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’. The event was initially scheduled for 2020 but was postponed for a year due to the global pandemic.
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