Italy hands Expo baton to Dubai, Di Maio sees opportunities

Italy pavilion unveiled, UAE minister says 'we'll imitate Milan'

21 October, 13:11

    MATERA - Italy is passing the proverbial baton of Expo to the United Arab Emirates for Expo 2020 Dubai, the first to take place in an Arab country, 50 years since the Middle Eastern country was founded.
    Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio had the job of symbolically handing over the event to his Emirati counterpart Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan during the unveiling of the Italy pavilion in Matera, a 2019 European Capital of Culture.
    Di Maio had invited the Emirati foreign minister to visit the southern Italian city on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, and he said happily, amidst current tension over the Italian budget bill, that he can "consider this mission accomplished".
    "I am certain that Expo 2020 Dubai will be a valuable development opportunity for our companies," Di Maio said, speaking from the stage of Matera's Cava del Sole convention centre.
    The venue hosted the event "One Year to Go", exactly one year ahead of the opening of Expo 2020 Dubai.
    Zayed al Nahyan said the event "is an important challenge" for the UAE and said he feels "a great responsibility" in taking over the reins from Milan, which hosted Expo 2015.
    "We will try, through collaboration with Italy, to replicate its success," said the minister, who was preceded on the stage by a show of Emirati music and dance as a taste of the atmosphere that will welcome visitors at Expo 2020.
    The Italy pavilion is built on a 3,500-square-metre surface area and is nearly 27 metres tall.
    It was made with sustainable materials, including orange peels, coffee grounds, and plastic recovered from the ocean.
    It was designed by architect Carlo Ratti and the studio Italo Rota Building Office.
    Di Maio said the Italian pavilion will "represent the principle of sustainability, and the excellence and know-how of our companies".
    "We want to make it an innovation hub that will allow visitors to take a true journey into Italian beauty, Made in Italy, Italian history and art," Di Maio said.
    He said other structures will also have an Italian stamp at Expo 2020 Dubai, including the event's main amphitheatre.
    The theme that inspired the Italian presence at Expo 2020 Dubai - which will see a record 192 participating countries - is "Beauty Connects People".
    "We are bringing to Dubai Italian beauty, which is the fruit of the connection between creativity, culture, science, territories, music, and art," said Paolo Glisenti, Italy commissioner for Expo 2020.
    Italian companies, technical partners, and Italian exhibition space sponsors (such as Fincantieri, Leonardo, Eni, Enel, and others) were also present at the unveiling in Matera, as well as 200 students from across Italy.
    Italian Education Minister Lorenzo Fioramonti said "on November 24 next year the theme of education, training, and research will be the focus of the day at Expo".

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