x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Italy says it will share experiences from Milan Expo 2015 with Dubai

Italian ambassador to the UAE says his country backs Dubai's 2020 bid and hopes Milan can cooperate with the emirate, if it wins.

DUBAI // Italy will pass on to the UAE any lessons it draws from hosting the World Expo in Milan in 2015, should Dubai win its bid to host Expo 2020.

The Italian ambassador to the UAE, Giorgio Starace, said his country would be willing to share its experiences.

“It’s natural that the edition that follows is driven to take the experiences and to ameliorate, to improve and to learn from our experience,” Mr Starace said.

“We believe there can be a very close link between the two expos. We think that we could help the success of the two editions, in terms of exchange of experience in services and infrastructure. We think it’s a unique occasion of mutual cooperation.”

The embassy on Monday delivered a letter from the Italian prime minister, Enrico Letta, addressed to his UAE counterpart, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, offering support for the nation’s bid.

“The bilateral relations between Italy and the UAE are excellent and they are characterised by a constant growth, both at the political and economic level,” Mr Letta wrote.

“In a world more and more integrated and interdependent, the UAE metropolis, where around 200 nationalities live and work in harmony to build a common project, represents an outstanding model of development, in tune with the theme chosen for the Expo.”

The UAE will have one of the largest pavilions at the Milan Expo, which runs between May 1 and October 31, under the theme Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.

Pavilions at World Expos are temporary structures that house a presentation designed to promote tourism or investment in a country and vast sums of money are often spent on them.

The UAE has a strong record at recent expos. It was listed in the top five at Hanover 2000; won a gold medal at Zaragoza in 2008; was the most popular pavilion at Shanghai in 2010; and took silver last year at Yeosu, South Korea.

The UAE pavilion is designed by Foster and Partners and is “inspired by the high dunes of the desert”.

Detailed designs will be completed by December and building will begin next year.

Mr Starace said the UAE stood a good chance of winning an award again in 2015.

“I am sure of that because I know how engaged they are in finding the best quality in what they’re going to present,” he said.

The ambassador also said the scope of the UAE’s contribution to Milan 2015 was part of the reason Italy chose to support Dubai’s bid.

“The UAE is investing credibility and resources in one of the largest pavilions in Milan,” he said. “Our Emirati friends are investing in Milan because they trust in its success.

“We, too, believe so much in the success of Dubai. We hope that Dubai will prevail as it is such a dynamic city and very well placed to host an expo.”

In between the 2015 and 2020 expos, there will also be an Expo 2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan, which will run from June to September.

Nevertheless, should Dubai win the bid on November 27, all eyes will undoubtedly be on the UAE’s pavilion in Milan in 2015.

Ibrahim Al Abed, commissioner general of the UAE Pavilion and director general of the National Media Council, said the success of any future expo in Dubai should not be judged on its contribution to any one expo.

“There’s no relationship between the two,” Mr Al Abed said. “Expos happen regularly, and we participate whenever one is going on.”

mcroucher@thenational.ae