Preparations for a successful showcase
Project Director Dr Peter J. Vine speaks about the inspiration behind the set design and the drive to challenge preconceptions about the UAE
The UAE Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015 is one of the most complex Expo pavilions that I have been involved in. It is my seventh Expo experience and I can honestly say it is the most exciting and challenging.
We are blessed by the fact that there is strong continuity in the UAE's involvement. It has been under the same roof throughout my experience — originally with the Ministry of Information and Culture and now with its successor, the National Media Council. The core Emirati team remains in place, directed by a visionary and inspiring chairman — UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan. When you see how many participating countries tend to appoint new teams for each Expo, it is easy to appreciate how the solid framework of experience and continuity has paid dividends for the UAE.
I am delighted to be working with the same Commissioner General, Salem Al Ameri, who served at the UAE Pavilion in Shanghai.
This is the first Expo for me where the theme and story have been developed alongside (and truly informed) the architecture. Having the world-famous architects Foster + Partners to design our pavilion for the second time has been an honour and great pleasure. They are an incredible team that understood our brief from the word ‘go'. Our main mission in all our recent pavilions has been to create a strong narrative that is based on the UAE experience of the chosen theme, which in this case is ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life'. We then take our visitors on a journey where they learn and engage with Emirati history, culture and modern development first-hand. Many of the challenges faced by the UAE are affecting other countries and lessons learnt here are applicable across the globe. The UAE's story is so amazing and people find it interesting. Our job is to shine light on some of the less well-known aspects of the country's development — challenging preconceptions and demolishing stereotypes. Our key word is ‘Wow' followed by, ‘I had no idea that…'
You will see whether we have succeeded when you visit us.
Plans for the Expo
Before each Expo project, we meet with Sheikh Abdullah who shares his ideas and aspirations for the particular event. He is strong on cultural integrity, authenticity, theme, youth involvement and legacy. He is very challenging and inspiring to work with and has an impressive depth of knowledge on a very wide range of subjects. So our main brief on the present project was to create an original and inspiring building that could come back to the UAE and serve as a visitor centre at Masdar City. Sheikh Abdullah also emphasises the importance of using these projects to provide life-changing experiences and opportunities for young Emiratis. We accomplish this, in part, via our ‘Ambassadors Programme' where many Emiratis help us run the pavilion in Milan and engage with our Italian audiences.
Benefits for Europe
I believe Expo Milano 2015 will have a strong positive economic impact on Milan and Italy. The cultural, scientific, social and educational aspects of the Expo create a whole raft of intangible benefits beyond the economic focus. ‘Feeding the Planet' is a worthwhile challenge and Italian organisers are doing their best to create a real global legacy. So far so good.
Thoughts on Expo Dubai 2020
The UAE Pavilion in Milan features a unique show about Expo Dubai 2020. Those visiting our pavilion will get a great view of what is planned for that Expo and will be able to discuss the project with members of the 2020 team.
Source: Khaleej Times