Gulf News in conversation with Mazen Ali Zakaria Alansari, Deputy Director of Kuwait Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai Video Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

“Kuwait Pavilion relies on the five senses of human existence – touch, taste, hearing, sight and smell – all of which will play a part in the pavilion. But beyond this, we will focus on the future of Kuwait and the world, which begins with the youth and that is what we aim to bring forward at Expo 2020,” said Mazen Ali Zakaria Alansari, the Deputy Director of Kuwait’s Expo 2020 Pavilion in an interview with Gulf News.

Mazen Ali Zakaria Alansari, the Deputy Director of Kuwait Pavilion at Expo 2020 Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf News

Occupying approximately 17,820 square metres of land, Kuwait is well known for its theatrical tradition and is home to the Arabic theatrical movement, which contributes to a major part of the country's cultural life.

With just four days left for the much-awaited event of Expo 2020 Dubai to open its gates to the world, the Kuwait’s pavilion roster of events is said to feature exhibitions, acts and speakers – all of which will showcase the past, present and future of Kuwait, by being in line with the Kuwait Vision 2035 (also known as ‘New Kuwait’).

What is Kuwait Vision 2035?
Kuwait's 2035 vision aims to transform Kuwait into a financial and trade hub regionally and internationally, thereby attracting investors. This multi-faceted national development plan is linked to international goals and factors by adapting them to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's) 2030 agenda as well.

“It is the largest participation of its kind in the history of Kuwait. The thing is, the success of Expo 2020 will not only be a success for the UAE, but for Kuwait, as well as the other GCC countries. The responsibility of Kuwait is to play a part … we will do everything that we can to play a role to add on to the success of this world expo.

“Kuwait, through its history, has always been on a path showcasing its past, present and future to world. The past is a clear message of sustainability. The geographical area of Kuwait sits on relics that have dated back to at least 7,000 years ago. The message from this is that some of these relics hint at Kuwait’s sustainable past, and will be showcased in the pavilion.

“But the history we have decided to portray begins with the trade with the Far East, through the dhows… as well as, pearl diving – which was one of the main sources of income for the Kuwaitis, in the past. Then we move to the present state of Kuwait – what we have been achieving recently, and the future of Kuwait – how we aim to build an infrastructure for the youth,” explained Alansari.

Dunes and water resemble the architecture of the pavilion

Located at the Sustainability District, Kuwait’s participation is under the thematic title ‘New Kuwait: New opportunities for sustainability’. The design of the pavilion was brought to life by Italian architect Marco Pestalozza and resembles a sand dune and the country’s famed water towers at the pavilion, which historically represent Kuwait’s vast deserts and seaports.

“As we know, water is the main element for life and that is why we have the water tower in the middle, which also resembles the Kuwaiti water towers, which you can see all around the city and promotes the message of sustainability for the future,” he added.

As Alansari said, Kuwait’s water towers is one among its massive projects undertaken by the country, which had commenced construction in 1970 and was completed in 1976. The water towers total up to 33 in number and can hold up to 102,000 cubic meters of water on an average.

Trade, pearl diving and birds: The complete visitor experience

Kuwait is known for many things, one of which include the “struggle for survival”, a pavilion experience visitors will be able to witness says Alansari. “From the visit, we are hoping that we showcase Kuwait’s dependence on the dhow trips we took to the Far East – as a source of income – and as a trade hub for the region, as well as the difficulties which were faced by pearl divers and the danger of it which posed as a threat to the people back then. We’re talking 80 to 90 years ago, so it is quite recent, and this will be one of the first videos which will be displayed to visitors at the pavilion.”

The terrain of the pavilion will guide visitors upwards through a series of other videos, which will remain “a surprise to all”.

Kuwait keeps its bird habitat on a pedestal, especially since the country sees a flock of migratory birds every year during winter. “Birds – especially those that migrate – are the best examples of sustainability, and visitors will be able to witness the magic of these species at the pavilion,” said Alansari.

Apart from this, the country will also focus on humanitarian grounds, which will help visitors understand what the country has done to help other regions achieve sustainability. “We have a very important entity in Kuwait which is called ‘The Kuwait Fund’ for developments. This entity provides long-term loans at low interest rates to countries in need. For instance, this entity will be used to help build schools, hospitals, roads, infrastructure, to help the country achieve sustainability."

Food, on the other hand, is an integral part of the country’s cultural appeal. The pavilion is in talks with famed Kuwaiti chef Ahmed Al Shaya, who will be presenting the Kuwaiti cuisine, which is highly influenced by flavours of India, the Far East and other Mediterranean cultures during past trades, mixed with a local touch, during the six-month global event.

Although the pandemic had resulted in their plans to come to life a year later than expected, Alansari is hopeful that the UAE’s resilient protocols will help turn this Expo into a massive success. “The positive impact of working and fighting a pandemic while gearing up for the Expo comes with rewards, those of which are two-fold: One, it gives us a chance to be better prepared and two, people have been waiting to travel for two years now, and this has resulted in better precautionary measures such as vaccinations, which will also encourage people to travel….”

Post the Expo, the Kuwait Pavilion’s sustainable structure will be recycled and will stand as a testament to the country’s vision of sustainability, especially since “there are lessons to be learnt”, he said.

“We look forward to meeting the world soon and learn from each other at one of the biggest Expo sites in the history of the world. I hear it’s going to be fantastic!” said Alansari.