The Malta Independent 18 August 2019, Sunday

Connecting Cultures, Generating Opportunities – theme for Malta’s participation in Expo 2020 Dubai

Albert Galea Sunday, 9 June 2019, 11:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

‘Connecting Cultures, Generating Opportunities’ will be the theme for Malta’s participation in the upcoming Expo 2020 in Dubai.

The World Expo is a huge event organised every five years in which countries from all across the globe gather to take part.  Malta formally signed the contract ensuring the country’s participation last November, making Expo 2020 Dubai the fourth World Expo in which Malta will be taking part.


The Malta Independent on Sunday sat down with Antoinette Catania – Deputy Commissioner of Malta at Expo 2020 Dubai and the Project Leader through Malta Enterprise – who explained that Expo 2020 will be run under the theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ – a theme that will then branch out into three sub-themes: Opportunity, Sustainability and Mobility.

The Expo is a unique multi-cultural gathering that fuses together various elements and where visitors will have the opportunity to discover more about the participating countries –  be it through leisure, entertainment, educational programmes and/or business activities.

Participating countries must choose a theme for their own pavilion, which must be approved by the host country and which has to fit in with one of the aforementioned sub-themes. Malta’s theme centres around the Opportunity sub-theme, because it deals with a number of factors and elements that are Malta’s strong-points, Catania explained.

Talking about the Malta theme itself, she  explained that ‘Connecting Cultures, Generating Opportunities’ looks at a number of elements that Malta holds close to its heart. The country’s history and the journey to where it is today comes into play, as do the opportunities that Malta has created to enable it to move forward as a country. 

“Being an international event, Malta will be on the world map, along  with the other participating nations. It is a truly unique opportunity for international exposure”, she said.

Malta’s pavilion at the expo, which is rented from the organisers, will be  a showcase for Malta in its entirety for six months. The path of progress in Malta and the opportunities will be charted through the representation of its theme. It will be a trip combining the diverse aspects of Malta’s development into a modern energetic country with an economy that continues to grow.

“It has to be pointed out that an expo is not a trade fair, but companies, businesses and entities can still be part of the whole concept and message”, Catania said.

The Malta Theme will capture a mix of elements under the ‘Connecting Cultures, Generating Opportunities’ scenario: cultural diversity, the interculturalism entrenched in our history, our positive attitude, a thriving economy, a young innovative generation and employment opportunities, Catania said.

The tender for the concept and design of the pavilion has already been published. “Once the design has been chosen, we will then continue developing our story through an attractive message and other components that will embrace our past, present and future, Catania explained.

Malta’s presence at Expo 2020 Dubai will obviously also be portrayed through a raft of other things which will be blended together into one, such as using the exhibition space to its utmost, having an extensive range of marketing material and audiovisual material on Malta and, last but not least, a programme of events and activities including workshops, educational and informative programmes, musical events and business activities so that visitors of all ages and from all sectors can enjoy their experience at the Malta Pavilion.

The Expo, which will run from 20 October 2020 to 21 April 2021, is not solely a business fair. Each days programme will be full of entertainment, leisure and cultural events in order to target the different demographics of the 25 million people expected to attend.

The pavilions will open their doors to the public at 10 o’clock every morning, with weekday mornings aimed largely at students of varying ages visiting the Expo. “The focus in Malta’s pavilion will be on Malta’s historical and cultural aspects and simply explaining everything that the country is about.” The afternoons will see the focus shift towards families visiting the venue, meaning that leisure activities – such as concerts and parades – will start to appear in the schedule. As the evening sets in, the demographics will turn more youthful, meaning that the activities taking place during the evening – the Expo will be open until 1am on weekdays and 2am at weekends – will be purely of a leisurely nature.  However, business activities will also feature throughout Expo.

The Malta pavilion will be divided into two floors, with the exhibition and presentation area on the ground floor and meeting and conference rooms on the first floor. “We are intending to use these rooms on a regular basis and are aiming to organise a number of meetings between the business delegations from various countries, in collaboration with the other country pavilions,” said Catania, “and we also want to host seminars, talks and workshops as part of our programme of activities throughout the six month of Expo. This Expo is an opportunity where businesses and entities can collaborate together with the Malta Pavilion.”

Each of the 190 countries taking part in the Expo will have its own National Day,  where the focus will be on that particular country and the organisers will be funnelling visitors to that country’s pavilion.  Malta’s National Day will be on 19 January 2021, and Catania confirmed that Malta Enterprise is already working on a programme of events for that particular day.

When questioned as to whether traditions within the United Arab Emirates will have an impact on Expo, she said: “There are certain things which have to be respected, as with any other culture, but once you are there you can see it is a very modern country which is very open to ideas and is very keen on setting a high bar for this event.”

In terms of what Malta can gain from the Expo, Catania noted that – first and foremost – Malta will gain visibility. Even by simply being there, is an element of recognition for Malta and visitors will be more aware of Malta and of what the country is about, she explained.

The event may not necessarily generate business immediately, as such things take time, but the opportunity is there and, through collaboration with companies, businesses and entities, Catania said that they would ensure that Malta will not go unnoticed. “We want to get the word out there that Malta is part of the global network and is a country brimming with opportunities for anyone,” she concluded.


What is the event?

The Bureau International des Exposition (BIE), which was created in 1928, is the intergovernmental organisation in charge of overseeing and regulating World Expos.  From the original 31 countries, the organisation now comprises 170 member states, including Malta. 

A World Expo takes place every five years and is held for a period of six months. The first Expo was held in London in 1851 and there have been 33 World Expos since – across Europe, North America and Canada, Asia and Australia.  Expo 2020 in Dubai will be the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East.

A total of 192 countries are confirmed to be taking part in Expo 2020, which will be spread over an area of 1,080 acres.

Malta itself has participated in three World Expos so far: in Hannover in 2000, Shanghai in 2010 and in Milan in 2015. Malta’s participation at Expo 2020 will be coordinated by Malta Enterprise under the auspices of the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Small Business.

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