The Malta Independent 24 August 2019, Saturday

Business Breakfast Expo 2020 Dubai: Expo occasion for Malta to show culture, ingenuity, innovation

Albert Galea Thursday, 13 June 2019, 08:26 Last update: about 3 months ago

A Business Breakfast on Expo 2020 Dubai organised by Malta Enterprise in collaboration with The Malta Independent took place this morning.

Minister for the Economy, Investment, and Small Businesses Chris Cardona will be addressing those gathered, along with International Participants Chief Operations Officer for Expo 2020 Dubai Omar Shehadeh and Consul General for Malta in Dubai and Commissioner General of Malta for Expo 2020 Dubai Anthony Tabone.


A discussion will be moderated by Malta Independent Editor-in-Chief Rachel Attard.

The World 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. It will run between 21 October 2020 and 20 April 2021, and Malta will be one of 192 countries participating.

Addressing those present, Economy Minister Chris Cardona said that the reason that Malta was taking part in this Expo was because the Government is committed to attracting more investment to Malta and noted that the government wants to use Malta's participation in Expo 2020 to create new employment and investment opportunities for the benefit of all Maltese and Gozitan families.

Cardona said that the organising committee had chosen the theme 'Connecting Minds, Creating the Future' because they are seeking to stimulate and spur creativity, innovation and collaboration between participating countries. "I believe that this sentiment reflects the true purpose of what an expo should represent", he said. 

The true legacy of an Expo, he said, is not in the physical buildings or monuments but in the connections it makes, the people it inspires, and the future it builds.

Cardona noted that Malta always had good relations with the United Arab Emirates and said that the government is looking forward to continue to forge business and diplomatic ties between the two countries as a result of Malta's participation in this prestigious expo.

He described the Expo as an occasion for Malta to showcase Maltese culture, ingenuity and innovation and highlight the quality of the country's financial services sector, education system, and, most importantly, promote the country's credentials as a secure destination for investment.

He said that the government will also be using this occason to promote Malta's "pioneering" legislation regulating family businesses.  He said that creating legislation on family businesses came after they had understood how crucial they are to Malta's economy and decided that the best way to support them was with effective policy.  He said that this Act had contributed to making Malta an attractice destination for family businesses to develop since they could continue to nurture their business and tap into fiscal incentives that the government provides.

"We hope that our framework will appeal to entrepreneurs in regions of the world, such as the Middle East, where the family-controlled business is the dominant business model", Cardona said.

He said that the government believed in constantly searching for new opportunties and finding new and better ways of doing business.  He noted that Malta will work to make the most of this opportunity to promote trade and two-way investment and to help Maltese companies capitalise on opportunities in the United Arab Emirates and the region more broadly.

International Participants Chief Operations Officer for Expo 2020 Dubai Omar Shehadeh noted that there was a very low number of Maltese companies registered as suppliers for the Expo - only 27 - and encouraged more companies to apply as they would not only be supplying the Expo, but also other countries, hence building a closer relationship to them. 

The procurement system for taking part in the Expo as a supplier is purely online and it is free of charge to register.  25,000 companies have registered thus far, Shehadeh said before noting that the Expo organisers had made a commitment to supporting SMEs as well.  20% of all purchases in fact must, Shehadeh said, go through SMEs.

Shehadeh spoke of the statistics related to the Expo, saying that it is taking place in an iconic site and will attract some 25 million visitors, 70% of which being from outside the United Arab Emirates.  The theme of the Expo, 'Connecting Minds, Creating the Future' is divided into three sub-themes which, Shehadeh said, are based on issues which the globe is facing today.  These are sustainability, mobility, and opportunity.

He also spoke of another Expo initiative - Expo Live - where there is a process open online for SMEs, NGOs, academia, companies, and governments to be able to apply for funds for initiatives and new ideas which can have a social impact.  He said that in the four cycles carried out so far, over 4,900 applications from 74 countries had been received - but noted that only 7 of these had come from Malta.  He encouraged more Maltese to apply through this platform.

Speaking in a panel discussion, Consul General for Malta in Dubai and Commissioner General of Malta for Expo 2020 Dubai Anthony Tabone said that there were a number of commercial opportunities and initiatives that would be undertaken, and also noted that Malta Enterprise is working closely with the Malta Tourism Authority so to offer visitors packages that they can take advantage of to visit Malta.

Paul Abela, the President of the Chamber of SMEs, praised the Expo’s and Malta Enterprise’s initiative to involve more SMEs in the process of the event, and said that the Chamber will definitely be looking to participate. 

Tabone said that Malta Enterprise wants to listen to any ideas from individuals, companies and representative bodies for how the journey ahead should pan out and how Malta’s participation in the Expo should pan out.


Speaking to The Malta Independent, Shehadeh said that Dubai Expo 2020 is the ideal platform not only for trade but also to connecting people together, which is the reason as to why the organisational team chose ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ as the Expo’s main theme.

“I think it is the ideal platform for the countries and individuals to be able to be exposed to other countries and cultures that they might not have seen or know great detail about”, Shehadeh said.  He noted that they are, through the Expo, aiming to create a global platform where people can get closer to each other and can be able to explore new adventures.  

“The perception is that it is a trade fair, but it is not actually a trade fair; the trade element is a hidden activity happening on the side - the whole experience is visitor centric and is about the families visiting”, he said.

He said that they wanted to encourage people to visit the United Arab Emirates, but at the same time also give the opportunity for participating countries such as Malta to promote themselves as a destination for families to visit, because they believe that culture is the true manifestation of bringing people closer to each other.

Speaking to The Malta Independent, Tabone noted while Malta is still in a preparatory stage, they are very much on time in these preparations.

“We are organising ourselves so that as a government we take the benefits, bring more investment into the country, and build more of a network between us and the 190 countries participating in the Expo”, Tabone said.

He said that the Expo will be a good platform for the commercial sector to do business and speak to other commercial entities from countries across the globe.


He said that it was important to encourage Maltese to visit the Expo and experience, and noted that they are working with the Malta Tourism Authority to work on attracting more visitors to Malta through the Expo.


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