The country's presence at the world fair and captivating sand dune-inspired pavilion has made people curious to learn more about the UAE and its people.
"People got so excited seeing movies on Dubai, the feedback we got was that people want to visit before Expo 2020,” said Amal Al Kuwaiti, a contract engineer with the Abu Dhabi Distribution Company who worked as a volunteer at the UAE pavilion in Milan.
"Many were surprised to see the country with not much water, how people searched for food. Then suddenly they see videos of the Burj Khalifa and they are thrilled. Even people who have been to Dubai long ago want to see the changes.”
The world fair promises sustained interaction on both sides that could continue past November when the Milan expo ends.
"It's very important for us that the UAE sends young people so both sides can learn from different sectors,” said Valentina Aprea, education and training minister for the Italian Lombardy region. Ms Aprea is working with institutions, schools and colleges as part of a competition to choose the top 100 young cooks to work alongside experienced chefs.
"These young chefs will be available to UAE hotels and restaurants after 2015. We want to create an interest in the youth to favour mobility and learn from international experiences. This is an important period for both our countries because the expo is laying the foundation for our future.”
A large portion of travel over the next few months will be business driven. Delegations from the UAE in the dairy and confectionery industries will be taken on road trips to factories and farms.
"This is not a traditional trade show so it's an opportunity in a relaxed manner to create business relationships,” said Antonio Cellie, chief executive of Fiere di Parma, who has plans to take UAE visitors to businesses in and around Parma.
"There are areas dedicated for business matching inside the expo, but we thought the expo can become an opportunity to create more for the company and clients worldwide
" A general manager can come with his family to visit the expo and also make business. So it's a cross format, to also stay in Italy and have a tourist experience.”
The landscape of the UAE recreated in the pavilion with the colours of the desert sand and interactive tales have whetted the appetite of visitors.
"People get mesmerised with how the UAE has grown from facing challenges like lack of water, coping with heat, humidity, lack of natural resources and still managed to create beautiful cities and communities,” said Dr Nawal Al Hosany, director of sustainability at Masdar, who was involved in building the UAE pavilion from the draft stage.
"The UAE has also been welcoming to people of different nationalities and backgrounds. People will want to come here for the experience of being here and understanding the city and country.”
Source: The National