Visitors queue at the entrance to the UAE pavilion. Image Credit: AFP

Milan: The long line of people waiting to enter the UAE Pavilion at EXPO Milan is a testament to its popularity, with a total visitor count of 176,403 during the month of May.

The UAE Pavilion takes visitors on a journey of the UAE explaining the rich culture, traditions, challenges, and innovative success of the Emirates through its history.

The theme and message of the UAE’s Pavilion at EXPO Milan comes under “We can shape our future by learning from our past”, and looks to come up with solutions in meeting challenges on issues like water, land, food and energy.

Media cubes

The first interactions visitors have at the pavilion are with media cubes. There are 12 cubes that mention 12 challenges the UAE faces with regard to land, energy, water and food. The 12 solutions are then provided by another 12 media cubes to the 12 challenges, for example one of the challenges the UAE faces is that it barely gets any rain in comparison to Milan, and so the solution in providing clean drinking water to its population is through new methods of desalinated seawater using renewable energy.

The media cubes also offer visitors an insight into the UAE and its culture, with five short Discovery films about the UAE. Flavors of the Emirates is a short film about the traditional and cultural foods of the UAE.

Another short film, Helping Feed the Planet touches on the UAE’s generous contribution in giving aid to 140 countries around the world, with the short movie going to Ethiopia where schoolchildren are provided with healthy food thanks to a programme funded and organised by Dubai Cares.

Emiratis acting as volunteers and ambassadors at the pavilion are also present to help guide and further explain the culture and history of the UAE, making the tour as interactive as possible for visitors.

Palm Cinema

The next part of the journey for visitors is the Palm Cinema, with a cinematic 8-minute movie titled Family Tree being featured for the audience. The movie’s special effects, story, and professional direction is on par with any Hollywood major production. The film centres on Sara, a young Emirati girl transported back in time, during the generation of her grandparents. Sara gets to live and witness what life was like before modernisation and development in the area, living in the harsh desert conditions, facing many challenges such as finding food and water, and dealing with sandstorms and wild animals.

When the film ends, it switches to an interactive presentation talk titled ‘Future Talk’, with the presentation being delivered by Sara. The main message of the talk is to encourage people to live their lives in a more sustainable and energy-friendly manner, so that we can have a better future in feeding the planet.

The Secret Life of Date Palms

No UAE Pavilion would be complete without date palms, a major tenant of Emirati culture and tradition. The Secret Life of Date Palms is an exhibition that looks into date palm features, its form, fruit, hydration, metamorphosis, shade, shadow, and gender. The exhibition explains the importance and value of date palms for the UAE.

As part of the exhibition visitors will also get to experience and see the date palms for themselves, with an oasis garden and date palm trees present at the pavilion.

Dubai EXPO 2020

Lastly visitors are introduced to the city of Dubai, and EXPO 2020 which will be held in Dubai. A professionally produced film explains the history and success of Dubai, and what visitors can expect from EXPO Dubai 2020.

Emirati ambassadors

Gulf News had a chat with one of the UAE’s ambassadors at the pavilion, Faisal Al Hammadi, who spoke of his pride at being able to represent the UAE at the EXPO Milan saying, “I am very proud to be representing the UAE, especially when you see visitors coming and having a very good impression of the pavilion and the UAE, you have to feel proud and happy from this. We get to explain our traditional dress and history, so everybody is excited about this, and we as ambassadors are enjoying our duty here and feel lucky to have been chosen as ambassadors. We thank the UAE Government for giving us the chance to be here representing the country.

“Visitors are very interested about this pavilion, especially when they see the film [Family Tree] in Palm Cinema, and the details about EXPO 2020, and the challenges we are having and the solutions to solve these problems.” He added.

*The reporter travelled to Milan, courtesy Etihad Airways