x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Expo 2020 a major learning experience for UAE

UAE students told about the important role they will play if the country succeeds in its bid to host Expo 2020

The Expo 2020 Committee chairman Steen Christiansen, centre, tours Zayed University in Abu Dhabi. Sammy Dallal / The National
The Expo 2020 Committee chairman Steen Christiansen, centre, tours Zayed University in Abu Dhabi. Sammy Dallal / The National

ABU DHABI // Students will benefit greatly by playing their role if the country's bid to host Expo 2020 succeeds, the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research said yesterday.

"The educational institutions in the UAE will be able to collaborate with Dubai Expo 2020 since it is scheduled during the academic year," Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak said.

"In particular, universities will capitalise on the opportunity since their curriculum deals with issues related to the expo sub-themes of sustainability, mobility and opportunity.

"Formal collaborations will greatly enhance the learning that takes place on campus and at the expo site."

Sheikh Nahyan was speaking during a visit to Zayed University by the international inspectors who are assessing the bid this week. He is president of the university.

He told hundreds of undergraduates who gathered to greet the delegates at the capital's new campus that young people would have an important role to play as volunteers.

"I have no doubt that our graduates and students in 2020 will distinguish themselves by assisting with visitor services, communications and media, environmental and medical services, and the many other activities so crucial to a successful exposition," Sheikh Nahyan said.

"When the young men and women of the UAE volunteer to assist at Dubai Expo 2020 they will be giving back to our own society.

"They will also, however, be connecting their minds with the millions of visitors from around the globe, and they will be encouraging alliances that will create a brighter and better future for everybody."

Inspectors from the Bureau International des Expositions, which supervises world expos, visited the university on the second day of a four-day mission. They are evaluating the nation's ability to stage the world fair in Dubai.

They were given a tour of the campus buildings, met students and were shown artworks produced by some of them before being whisked off to their next appointment.

Students spoke of their excitement at the prospect of the UAE hosting Expo 2020.

"It's an important, big event," said Sahar Al Kaff, 20, from Abu Dhabi. "It's really important for us to have it here in the UAE as it would be the first time in this region.

"It would correct stereotypes. It would show we are a developed country and I'd be really excited to go."

Another Abu Dhabi student, Hadya Bawazeer, 19, said: "It would be a really good thing if the expo came here because it would show the UAE to the world.

"It would show that the UAE is connected to every country in the world and we'd be able to demonstrate our hospitality."

Ali Maktoum, 21, also from Abu Dhabi, said: "It would be an exciting thing to have here. Visitors would be able to learn about our culture and our religion. I'm hoping the bid is successful."

The delegates' visit to the university was part of efforts to assess the level of national support for the bid, one of their main tasks this week.

UAE nationals and residents have taken to Twitter to express their support.

Rasha Alazem tweeted: "Wishing Dubai luck for the #Expo2020 bid! Let's do this!"

Mohamed Almazmi posted: "#Dubai is a remarkable city with its great leaders and surely it will give the best for #Expo2020."

And Jad Hindy said: "#Dubai deserves to host #Expo2020. The world deserves to get a taste of Dubai."

A 438-hectare site in Jebel Ali has been chosen for the event, and the delegates are due to fly over it by helicopter today.

Dubai is one of five cities bidding to host Expo 2020, with the winner to be announced in November.

csimpson@thenational.ae