DUBAI // Expo officials learnt about the international workforce that built the world’s tallest tower, saw green building initiatives and even fed carrots to camels as they absorbed the sights and sounds of the UAE during a five-day stay.
The 250 representatives of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) were taken on tours, called Learning Journeys, to various sites in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah to understand more about the country bidding to host Expo 2020.
On Thursday, the final day of their UAE stay, the delegates tasted camel milk, sampled camel-milk chocolate and ate camel milk-coated dates at a camel farm in Dubai. For most of them, it was their first time tasting camel-milk products.
“Like most people, they first thought it would be too strong and rough but were pleasantly surprised the milk was smooth with a slightly salty edge,” said a spokeswoman for the Emirates Industry for Camel Milk & Products.
“One lady said she was anxious and a bit afraid to try – and then liked it so much she bought chocolates for her children.
“They were surprised to hear about the health benefits of camel milk and were interested in knowing about the low fat and high Vitamin C content.”
The delegates visited a dairy processing plant, the Al Nassma camel-milk chocolate shop and also fed carrots to some of the more than 3,000 camels at the farm in Umm Nahad.
The tours were conducted after the day’s theme symposium at Madinat Jumeirah, where experts talked about the emirate’s infrastructure, clean-energy and conservation plans.
Delegates took photos and videos, and jotted down notes during visits to the Burj Khalifa, Jebel Ali port, Emirates Aviation Academy, the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization, Sheikh Zayed Mosque and Masdar City in Abu Dhabi.
At the Burj Khalifa, officials posed for pictures on the observatory deck, At The Top.
“During the two-hour tour, the delegates showed interest in learning about the construction, the world records and the making of Burj Khalifa,” said an Emaar spokeswoman for Burj Khalifa.
“They were particularly enthusiastic about the global collaboration that went into making the tower, with more than 10,000 professionals from more than 120 countries working on the project.”
The group also travelled in electric, driverless pods during an hour-long tour of Masdar City that showcased a section of the development initiative designed to diversify the UAE’s economy and establish a new energy industry.
Officials were shown around labs and a 10 megawatt solar plant that supplies Masdar with clean energy.
They were also taken to the extension of the recently completed Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, and visited the International Renewable Energy Agency headquarters, which is under construction.
“The group was particularly interested in the energy-efficient architecture of the buildings as well as Masdar City’s passive urban design,” said a Masdar spokesman.
“They were also impressed by the way traditional Arabic design has been coupled with modern technology and architecture.
On Wednesday night, the delegates from 167 member nations were welcomed at a traditional Bedouin-style camp among the towering sand dunes surrounding the Lisaili Fort.
Reem Al Hashimy, the Minister of State and managing director of Dubai Expo 2020, said the symposium and the tours aimed to bring to life the nation’s heritage and culture, alongside knowledge of its operational readiness to host the world fair.
“It has been a highly engaging couple of days,” she said.
“The remarkable support felt from throughout the nation has left a lasting impression on all the delegates and greatly distinguishes our bid from our competition.”
The other contenders are Yekaterinburg in Russia, the Brazilian capital, Sao Paulo, and Izmir in Turkey.
The final decision on the host nation will be made after a vote by the BIE general assembly in Paris on November 27.