The Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw
The Palace of Culture and Science is an iconic landmark on the Warsaw skyline. Once among the tallest buildings in Europe, the 231-metre structure now serves as an exhibition centre and office complex. It includes cinemas, theatres, museums, offices, bookshops, a conference hall and an university. Image Credit: Pixabay

Have you been to the Poland pavilion at the Expo 2020 Dubai? You certainly couldn’t have missed the flying flock of migratory birds at the entrance. The kinetic sculpture that pays tribute to the wealth of nature in Poland has been such a hit that it figures in most photo features and video clips on the Expo.

Poland can’t thank Dubai enough. More people now know about the European country, its people, history and culture, its companies and products than before the trade fair. By all accounts, the Polish pavilion was a popular destination. More than 1.5 million visitors came to learn about Poland and were treated to a blend of art, culture and business. Around 1,000 events, including Chopin recitals, educational workshops, fashion shows, song and dance performances, economic forums and other activities, kept the visitors engaged for six months.

Poland Pavilion Expo
The Poland Pavilion at the Expo 2020 Dubai. The pavilion received a silver award for the best interior design/display among medium-sized pavilions from the Bureau International des Exhibitions. Image Credit: Supplied

When the Expo ended on March 31, 2022, the Polish Investment and Trade Agency was pleased to have showcased the best of Poland, with several regions presenting their avenues for trade and investment. Poland’s Ministry of Economic Development and Technology was so encouraged by the international exposure at the trade fair that it is very optimistic about reaping long-term rewards.

Since the fall of the communist government in 1989, Poland has steadily shored up their infrastructure and developed a business-friendly atmosphere. The result has been an upsurge in home-grown businesses; some were displayed at the Dubai Expo, which drew more than 24 million visitors from around the world. Polish officials expect it to translate into investments in their country, besides attracting more tourists.

Poland officials
From left: Zdzislaw Sokal, Vice-President of Polish Investment and Trade Agency, Grzegorz Piechowiak, Minister of Economic Development and Technology, and Grzegorz Slomkowski, Vice-President of Polish Investment & Trade Agency, addressing UAE journalists in Warsaw in June 2022. Image Credit: Shyam A. Krishna/Gulf News

Some developments have happened already. There have been initial meetings, mutual visits and, in some cases, agreements signed. Grzegorz Piechowiak, Minister of Economic Development and Technology, is delighted with the outcomes.

“We were pleasantly surprised [at the speed of developments],” Piechowiak said during a meeting with UAE journalists in Warsaw last week. “Certain things have happened. Several agreements have been signed, and we are still working on some, he added.

Piechowiak said the main goal was to develop cooperation with the UAE government. “We have had lots of meeting with senior officials….More are planned.”

Image Credit: Vijith Pulikkal/Gulf News
Gulf News

Citing an Abu Dhabi company’s interest in Silesia, Piechowiak said: “Not only [are relations being developed] on an inter-governmental level, our regions, which were strongly represented at the Expo, are moving ahead in building ties in the UAE.

All these have happened within a short span. But for Poland, it’s just the beginning. Zdzislaw Sokal, Vice-President of Polish Investment and Trade Agency, was clear about that when he said, “Our main goal is to attract investment to Poland.”

For that, conditions are ripe, according to Sokal, who said that the Polish economy had witnessed a five per cent growth in the last ten years. “In the last quarter this year, the economy grew at a rate of 8.5 per cent despite the Ukraine crisis, the refugee situation and the fallout from COVID-19.”

Sunreef 80 Eco
The Sunreef 80 Eco, which combines electric propulsion and green technologies, sails in the UAE waters. Headquartered in Gdansk, Poland, Sunreef Yachts has opened a sales office in Dubai to explore the Middle Eastern market. Image Credit: Supplied
Sunreef Yachts designs and builds luxury catamarans and multi-hull superyachts in the Polish port city of Gdansk. Established by French businessman Francis Lapp in 2002, Sunreef Yachts’ clients include Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal and Formula 1 drivers Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg.
For an environmentally responsible cruising experience, Sunreef Yachts has developed a new range of Eco catamarans. Lapp’s company displays their yachts at major boat shows, including Cannes, Monaco, Miami, Fort Lauderdale (Florida), Dubai, Qatar and Singapore. In 2020, Sunreef Yachts won the Shipyard of the Year award at the World Yacht Trophies.

COVID had stopped all economic activities worldwide, but the slowdown in the rate of infections and the arrival of vaccines helped economies recover. There was a significant bounce in the Polish economy, Sokal said. But then the war broke out in Ukraine.

Like the rest of the world, Poland has also been experiencing the war’s repercussions. “Inflation has jumped to 14% from 2% before the war, but our GDP is still better than Germany and Italy, Sokal said.

The Polish trade official said that the Ukraine crisis didn’t stop the flow of investment into Poland; it only increased them. “Investments which were initially planned for Belarus, Russia and Ukraine are now headed to Poland,” Sokal explained. That has come as a boon to the Polish economy, which has been buzzing in the last 30 years.

Poland numbers
Image Credit: Vijith Pulikkal/Gulf News

The international exposure at the Expo was a shot in the arm for Polish companies, which was evident in the UAE media interactions in Warsaw, Lodz and Wroclaw. In a throwback to the Expo days, several companies, including beauty products maker Prime Habits, snack producer Chuprex, biotech firm Biotechnika, farm machinery manufacturer Jagoda and trading firm Euroleki showed their wares in Lodz. In Wroclaw, the Marshal’s office representatives provided a recap of their activities at the Expo.

Expo 2020 Dubai may be over. The Polish ice creams and the trampoline at their pavilion may be a memory, but Poland did leave a mark in the minds of the visitors. Investments will come, but Polish officials also want more tourists to come. Come, discover Poland, they say.

A Real-time Earth-Observation Constellation satellite from the stables of SatRev. The Wroclaw-based commercial satellite maker has signed a deal with Oman to manufacture and operate a satellite that will be launched later this year. Image Credit: Supplied
SatRev is the first Polish company to place a satellite — Swiatowid — in orbit around the Earth. It has successfully launched 11 nanosatellites with major launcher companies such as Virgin Orbit and SpaceX. Eight of them are still in operation, Paul Tomko, Space Systems Program Manager, told Gulf News.
The Wroclaw-based company, founded in 2016 by Grzegorz Zwolinski, Radosław Lapczynski, and Damian Fijalkowski, designs, builds and places cube satellites in orbit to collect Earth-observation data. Some countries in the Middle East and Africa are among their clients.

Rewinding the Expo days in Wroclaw

A business meeting in Lodz