Dubai: Thursday night saw the Israel Pavilion officially celebrating its opening at Expo 2020 Dubai, welcoming visitors from all 191 countries.
The Inauguration was hosted by the Israeli Minister of Tourism, Yoel Razvozov, and Elazar Cohen, Commissioner General of the Israel Pavilion. Speeches by high-ranking officials included: Dr Ahmad Belhoul, UAE Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and Small and Medium Enterprises; Najeeb Mohammed Alali, Executive Director of the Commissioner General Office, Expo 2020 Dubai; and Eli Cohen, Corporate Secretary-General, KKL-JNF.
Razvozov said in his opening remarks: “I’m truly delighted to be standing here as a representative of the Israeli people and the Israeli government at the opening of Israel’s National Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. Many things are happening here for the first time. For the first time in history, the Expo fair is being held in an Arab country. It is also the first time that there is an Israeli pavilion in a major fair on Arab soil. It is one of the most sound and robust steps towards cooperation between the United Arab Emirates and Israel in history.”
He added: “Peace allows us to forge a new reality in the Middle East that will bring prosperity, security and stability to all. We believe that in order to reach a better tomorrow, one should choose practical and positive actions today. So, I’m delighted to invite each and every one of you and each and every visitor, participant and host at this EXPO to come and visit our country. Come and see for yourself what Israel is really about. Tourism allows us to explore, learn from and accommodate each other. Tourism will build a human bridge to peace!”
The event began with a traditional Mezuzah ceremony performed by Rabbi Levi Duchman. The Mezuzah Case was made and designed exclusively for Expo 2020 Dubai by famous Judaica Artist David Roytman. Hanging a mezuzah on a doorpost is an ancient Jewish practice that fulfils a biblical commandment from Deuteronomy to write the words of the Lord on the doorposts of one’s home. This was followed by a ribbon cutting ceremony, performed by the Minister of Tourism and Commissioner General.
Cohen said of the ceremony: “Tonight, by placing the Mezuzah at the entrance of our pavilion, we turned it into our home. I have been dreaming of this day for many years and at this historical moment, I wish to thank Israel and the UAE governments, for making this dream come true. Our pavilion is open to everyone, and while many things divide us, common challenges and the hope for ‘tomorrow’ unite us. Together we can and will make our future, our tomorrow, better.”
The minister for tourism arrived in the UAE yesterday with other members of his delegation. Razvozov began his tour with a warm welcome at the UAE Pavilion. The minister continued his tour with a visit to the Russian Pavilion, his country of birth. The USA Pavilion was next, followed by his final destination, the Israeli Pavilion where he hosted the evenings activities.
Cohen said: “This is the time to come together to fight the climate crisis as one.”
The event concluded with a performance by Hamalgezot, an Israeli band playing traditional Israeli music for the 250 attendees, which was followed by Israeli DJ Abass who wrapped up the inauguration with Israeli party-themed music.