India Day at Expo
India's Honour Day at Expo Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Expo 2020 Dubai concluded National Day ceremonies of country pavilions with a grand celebration of India, which saw a crowd singing songs praising the country at Al Wasl Plaza on Tuesday.

India’s celebrated musician couple—playback and classical singer Kavita Krishnamurthy and her husband, violin maestro L. Subramaniam—presented a live performance of songs hailing their motherland. Waving Indian flags, the crowd that had gathered around Al Wasl Plaza sang along popular numbers such as ‘I love my India’.

Kavita Krishnamurthy at India Day at Expo
Kavita Krishnamurthy during the event

An India-themed show was displayed at Al Wasl Plaza while several other cultural programmes and a parade were held at India Pavilion and across various venues at Expo. A music concert by playback singer Shan at Jubilee Stage was among the highlights of the India Day celebrations.

Earlier, Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence, and Commissioner General of Expo 2020 Dubai, along with Piyush Goyal, India’s Commerce and Industry Minister, attended the official ceremony held at the heart of Expo.

“On this auspicious occasion, we are pleased to conclude our National Day ceremonies on a high note with the celebration of the National Day of the Republic of India,” said Sheikh Nahyan in his opening remarks.

Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan (R) and Piyush Goyal at Expo on India Day
Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan (R) and Piyush Goyal Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

“I take this opportunity to reiterate how privileged we feel to have India as an active and dedicated participant at Expo 2020 Dubai, with a pavilion that has successfully achieved its purpose of showcasing all that India offers to the rest of the world.”

He added that India Pavilion showcased to the world a new India, demonstrating the country’s advanced technological breakthroughs and innovation, space exploration, smart cities and artificial intelligence capabilities.

The pavilion highlighted India’s leadership roles in various fields and the vast opportunities presented by its 1.3 billion people and $3.1 trillion economy along with a variety of entertainment and culture offerings that reflect India’s rich heritage and diversity, he said, appreciating team India for its “substantial participation and for bringing the magic of India Expo 2020 Dubai”.

‘Expo not saying goodbye’

Sheikh Nahyan also took the opportunity to reflect on the massive success of Expo.

“As we near the end of what has been a truly exceptional global event, we gather in celebration of what we have managed to achieve with you all. And we reflect on the incredible experiences encountered and exchanges that we have had over the last six months. We firmly believe that Expo 2022 Dubai has shown us the true power of international cooperation and that there is no limit to what we can achieve when we work together as a global community.”

He added: “This Expo has been an incredible platform, one that has set the stage for continued, impactful conversations and action that aims to make the world a better place for everyone, which is why we will not say goodbye and we believe there is still much left for us to achieve together.”

As per the previous announcements, Expo will be repurposed as District 2020 and almost 80 per cent of all the structures at Expo will remain even after ‘the world’s greatest show’ ends on March 31.

The minister added that “the UAE is proud to share deep-rooted and long standing bilateral relations with great India, which has culminated in us being one of India’s largest trading partners in the Middle East”.

He added: “In this regard, we remain keen to further develop and diversify our means of cooperation at the government and private sector levels across various areas of mutual interest to our countries, such as space industry, FDI and scientific research. This year we celebrated 49 years of diplomatic ties with India and we look forward to witnessing our relationship thrive as we work hand in hand towards ensuring our shared development and prosperity.”

Indian flag projected on Al Wasl dome during the show Image Credit: Sajila Saseendran

Expo shining example

In his speech, Goyal praised the UAE for the incredible success of Expo amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. “Dubai Expo will remain a shining example of victory of courage over adversity,” he said.

He added that it is a testimony to the growing strength and relevance that the UAE enjoys today in the comity of nations. Goyal said the growing relationship between the countries has seen India getting a permanent place in the UAE with the India Pavilion becoming a legacy pavilion that will stay here permanently.

Apart from being a melting pot of representing all that India has to offer and its achievements, he said, India Pavilion succeeded in bringing business and closer ties between people and further strengthened the geopolitical and strategic relations that the UAE and India share.

He said the impossible has been made possible at Expo with the fair crossing more than 23 million footfalls amidst the pandemic and added that India Pavilion recorded more than 1.7 million visits last week.

He said Expo will go down in history as a glorious chapter that brought the two brothers, India and the UAE, closer together. It is during this period that both the countries negotiated and finalized the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement and published the joint Vision Document by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 18.