Abu Dhabi: Visiting the Swiss pavilion at Expo 2020 is set to be an ‘emotional experience’.
Visitors will walk through a mist, emerging onto a vibrant, green landscape, Massimo Baggi, the Ambassador of Switzerland to the UAE, told Gulf News. “As the first country to confirm our participation in Expo 2020, we are enthusiastically looking forward to the [international fair]. Our pavilion will be devoted to innovation, including solutions for water and the need for conserving nature and the environment,” he said.
Welcoming back tourists
The mission is gearing up for Expo 2020, even as it expects to greet tourists from the UAE following the opening of its own borders last month. “About 10 per cent of all tourists who arrive in Switzerland seek medical treatment, including 140,000 arrivals every year from the UAE. These UAE tourists generate 350,000 overnight stays in our picturesque, family-friendly destinations. Medical tourists in particular come down for orthopaedic, neurological, rehabilitative, oncological and psychiatric care,” Baggi said.
Now, anyone with a vaccine approved by the World Health Organisation can travel to Switzerland, after months of travel restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In turn, about 100,000 Swiss nationals travel to the UAE each year for business and leisure, and this year, the Expo 2020 will be a draw for them.
Swiss expats are also active in the UAE, with the community comprising of 2,800 members. “Most of our countrymen are involved in the food and beverages, pharmaceutical, perfumery, luxury goods and chocolate sectors. And while there was a 10 per cent decline in the size of the community within the UAE, it is likely to be temporary,” Baggi said.
The UAE and Switzerland also share strong relations, with bilateral trade valued at 21 billion Swiss francs. These include Swiss exports to the UAE valued at over 3.7 billion Swiss francs (Dh14.75 billion) of luxury goods, machinery, instruments and pharmaceutical products. In turn, the UAE exports are worth more than 15 billion Swiss francs (Dh59.82 billion) worth of precious stones and metals.
“It is difficult to say how bilateral trade will change this year, especially as the value of trade depends on exchange rates, but we expect an increasing trend as economies open up,” Baggi said.