The Finland Pavilion at the Dubai Expo 2020 on 5th October 2021 Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: Have you ever stood beside a streaming river, with chirpy birds, a rustle of wind and serenity as your companions? Stand outside the Finland Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai and you will be the recipient of a similar experience.

The façade of the Nordic pavilion looks like a secret — piquing a visitor’s curiosity to see what’s inside. However, it is the very simplicity of it which makes ‘Lumi’, meaning ‘snow’, which sets it apart.

Inaugurated by Mika Lintilä, Minister of Economic Affairs, Finland; Severi Keinälä, Commissioner General of Finland at Expo 2020 Dubai and Marianne Nissilä, Finnish Ambassador to the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain, the pavilion has now opened its doors to welcome visitors.

Interactive journey

Not only does it let visitors embark on an interactive journey through the societal pillars upon which Finland’s happiness are based: continuous development and innovation, sustainable and environmentally-friendly solutions and extensive international cooperation, but they are in for the advancements made in Finnish technology.

Gulf News spoke to Samppa Lappalainen, CEO, and Gregor Turnsek of JKMM architects, the masterminds behind the pavilion, who weighed in on their experience of combining the country and its vision for the future, all into one.

“We wanted to bring the first snow concept into the pavilion and give it a traditional Arabic tweak, especially since we wanted to embed our culture and significance into it. Happiness is the core message of the pavilion and we were inspired by the iconic landmarks around Finland,” said Lappalainen.

Finland pavilion
The Finland Pavilion at the Dubai Expo 2020 on 5th October 2021. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Snow in the desert

“The pavilion’s concept was to bring snow into the desert and we accomplished that through the pure white structure or ‘snow cape’. We wanted to combine the culture of Finland and the UAE in our pavilion. The element of air and water especially was important to the pavilion, especially since our country is home to over 188,700 rivers,” added Turnsek.

Inspired by the traditional Arabic tent, the face of the pavilion resembles an open flap, through which visitors can walk in to witness the main highlights of the venue — the Gorge. Surrounded in a wooden ambience, a visitor at the pavilion will be able to bask under the rays of the sun, from a window shaped like a water droplet. However, as open and explorative as the cubic pavilion is, it is also one of the places that offers an escape from the October heat.

Future happiness

Centred around the theme of ‘sharing for future happiness’, the Finnish pavilion features a series of light installations, which mimic the northern lights and change hues based on the themes of a story narrated across an elongated screen.

The pavilion also features an elevator which changes shades based on the emotion a visitor is feeling. For instance, if you were to feel happy, the elevator turns pink and purple. What’s more? You don’t have to press buttons to navigate the elevator up and down the pavilion — you only need to say a command: “Ground floor, please.”

Apart from this, the pavilion features several art installations that go by a deeper, greener and futuristic meaning, one of which include a friendly robot waiting to help you out. Walk further and you would experience what a life beneath the snow looks like. Frozen pairs of scissors dangling from the ceiling, carbon dioxide coffee, and souvenir shop are some of the other attractions of this pavilion.

Curious about the carbon dioxide coffee?

Well, the pavilion coverts carbon dioxide released by visitors to power the coffee machine parked at the pavilion, and brews fresh Finnish coffee.

Severi Keinälä, Commissioner General of Finland at Expo 2020 Dubai, reflected on the importance of Expo 2020 Dubai for the global business community: “As we reflect on the last year and acknowledge how much countries around the world have overcome, we are proud to come together to celebrate our resilience and look to the future in the spirit of cooperation. We are proud to be part of a moment in history that marks the first World Expo in the Middle East and the first large-scale public event in the region since the onset of Covid-19. We are also proud of the passion we share with the UAE for enhancing business and societal happiness.

120 partner companies

“During the next six months, Finland and its 120 partner companies will share expertise and know-how with the aim of showing how a combination of collaborative change, digital innovations and circular economy thinking can pave the way for the sustainable transition our collective ecosystems need to achieve.”

Upcoming events in the Finland pavilion include Finland’s national day celebrations on October 31, a visit from Lapland’s Santa Claus in December, and celebrating Finnish happiness on World Happiness Day in March 2022. The Finland pavilion is open daily from 10am to 10pm until March 31, 2022 and all visitors are welcome.

All this and much more can be experienced when you visit Finland — the ‘coolest’ pavilion — at Expo 2020 Dubai.