Shaikh Ahmed Bin Saeed receives official letter from the Swiss Government confirming participation in Expo 2020 Dubai, from Wolfgang Amadeus Brulhart, Director of the MENA Department at the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Switzerland on Tuesday became the first country to officially sign on to participate in Expo 2020.

“We are delighted that the Swiss government has committed to participate, over four years ahead of the start of the Expo,” said Shaikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Expo 2020 Dubai Higher Committee and President of Dubai Civil Aviation and Chairman and CEO of Emirates airline.

“The decision is an important reflection of the international role played by the UAE, and the significance of Expo 2020,” he said.

Shaikh Ahmed met with Maya Tissafi, Switzerland’s Ambassador to the UAE, on Monday, as the country became the first to officially signal its intent to participate in Expo 2020.

“Switzerland and the UAE are both countries that thrive on connecting others, through travel and trade. Participating in Expo 2020 Dubai is also of great interest to Swiss companies and the tourism sector given the region’s economic potential.” She went on to add, “because of this, we are excited to be the first country to agree to take part in Expo 2020. We share Expo’s belief in connecting minds in order to create the future, and look forward to working closely with the organisers to contribute to a spectacular event that leaves a meaningful and long-lasting legacy both here in the UAE and at home in Switzerland.”

According to a statement released on Tuesday, The Swiss Federal Council agreed to take part in Expo 2020 at a meeting held last week. That meeting also agreed to a budget for the Swiss Pavilion – which will be built on the Expo site – of Dh57 million.

The Council issued a statement saying that “given the economic and political significance of the host country and the geopolitical weight of the Gulf region, the Federal Council decided that Switzerland would participate in Expo 2020 in Dubai. Switzerland’s presence will be a unique opportunity to present the country and its research capacity and innovation in the fields of renewable energies, mobility and the environment to a wider public.”

Switzerland has participated in the majority of World Expos held to date. Switzerland is a founding member of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), which has had the responsibility for organising World Expos since 1928.

Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation, and Director General of Expo 2020 Dubai said “I am delighted to welcome Switzerland as the first national participant. We look forward to Switzerland’s participation in Expo 2020, as a partner in bringing people together from across the globe, to share their ideas and together create a common ambition for the next fifty years of human progress. We are working to deliver a World Expo that inspires millions of people around the world, and marks the progress that UAE has made in its first 50 years. We aspire to build a legacy that provides a firm foundation for the next stage of the UAE’s progress and development.

Last week Expo 2020 hosted officials from the BIE on a technical visit to inspect the progress being made in preparation for the event, and the plans being put in place for its legacy.

Between October 2020 and April 2021, Expo 2020 Dubai will welcome more than 180 nations and an international audience of 25 million visitors to witness the very latest in thinking and technology.