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Innovative Switzerland rolls out red carpet at Expo 2020 Dubai

Swiss pavilion
The Swiss Pavilion has a mirrored front and a 700-square-metre red carpet to welcome visitors Keystone / Sebstien Crettaz

After eight years of planning and billions of dollars in spending, the Middle East’s first World Fair has opened in Dubai. Switzerland is participating at Expo 2020 with its own pavilion.

This offers visitors “a memorable experience and showcases our country in all its diversity: from the beauty of the Swiss Alps to Switzerland’s role as a leading innovation hotspot”, said Presence Switzerland, a foreign ministry unit responsible for Switzerland’s image abroad, in a statementExternal link.

Costing CHF16.5 million ($17.7 million) and made possible with partners from business, science and politics – including SWI swissinfo.ch – the pavilion will be open to the public for six months “in order to strengthen relations with Switzerland’s most important trading partner in the Middle East and showcase its status as an economic powerhouse and attractiveness as a tourist destination in the region”.

The first World Expo to be held in an Arab country will run until March 31. Switzerland was the first of 192 countries to confirm its participation. The fair, whose theme is “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”, is expected to attract 25 million visitors, of whom 70% from abroad.

After spending $7 billion (CHF6.5 billion) on the site, Dubai hopes it will attract new businesses and draw more foreigners to buy properties in the commercial hub of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). However, it also renewed long-standing criticisms of the skyscraper-studded sheikhdom built largely by low-paid workers where speech and assembly remain strictly controlled.

The European Parliament this month urged nations not to take part in the Expo, citing human rights abuses, the jailing of activists and the autocratic government’s use of spyware to target critics. However, European Union top diplomat Josep Borrell acknowledged in a statement on Thursday that the bloc would take part in the Expo.

Multifaceted experience

The Swiss Pavilion has a funnel-shaped, mirrored front and a 700-square-metre red carpet to welcome visitors.

A major attraction is a nature experience featuring a mountain panorama that emerges from a sea of fog to present tourist destinations selected in collaboration with Switzerland Tourism.

Swiss pavilion
A mountain panorama emerging from a sea of fog Keystone / Sebstien Crettaz

In addition, various projects and products developed by Swiss universities, start-ups and innovative companies showcase Switzerland as the world’s leading innovation hotspot.

The pavilion also illustrates Switzerland’s commitment to a sustainable future. For example “Blue Peace”, an exhibition of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), spotlights Switzerland’s efforts in the field of water diplomacy and the sustainable management of the world’s water resources.

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SWI swissinfo.ch - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR