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Lithuania Prepares for the World EXPO 2020 in Dubai

The time left until EXPO 2020 in Dubai is barely one and a half years. After taking time to consider our options, at the end of last year Lithuania, like several other hesitant states, including e.g. Estonia, made the final decision to participate at this important international event. Moreover, Lithuanian Government decided to open an embassy of Lithuania in the United Arab Emirates. Things were set in motion and thus the Ministry of Environment continues the preparations for the global exhibition. Romas JANKAUSKAS, Chief Ministerial Adviser and Commissioner General of the Lithuanian section, shared the highlights of the current works with our magazine.

Lithuania has signed the agreement regarding the participation at the exhibition in Dubai and announced the tender for the pavilion project.

When this issue of JŪRA MOPE SEA is already printed and delivered to the readers, Lithuania’s preparations for the world EXPO 2020 will have advanced even further. In the middle of April, the Ministry of Environment, coordinating the preparations for the event, will already have a pile of conceptual projects for Lithuania’s pavilion and the tender winners will be able to start preparing the drawings and other documents, required for the construction. The works, submitted to the tender will be presented to the wide public and assessed by a competent commission, including a number of well-known architects (e.g. the National Prize winner Audrius Ambrasas, architects Gintautas Blažiūnas, Vaidotas Kuliešius, Edgaras Neniškis, etc.), the businessman and Invest Lithuania honorary ambassador Vladas Lašas, the futurologist and blogger Justinas Žilinskas, as well as representatives of the Ministry of Environment and several other ministries.

The project tender has been announced as soon as Lithuania finally signed the participation agreement on 24 February. Based on this agreement, Lithuania has been allocated a 1,550 sq. m plot for free use. The pavilion building should be completed there already this year and the exposition, introducing Lithuania, will be established next year. Lithuanian pavilion will be situated in the neighbourhood of Sweden and Slovenia. Other states that have chosen to build their pavilions in the Sustainability area include Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Czech Republic and Brazil. The participation agreement defines the main conditions of participation at the exhibition and commercial activity, as well as the main duties and responsibilities of the participant and the organiser. Najeeb Al-Ali, Executive Director of Dubai Expo 2020 Bureau, who signed the agreement on behalf of the organiser, has no doubts that with vast experience of participating at such exhibitions Lithuania will show excellent performance at one of the most ambitious world expos of the 21st century in Dubai as well. The organisers of the event are interested in our possibilities of exports, tourism development, as well as cooperation in the fields of science and innovations.

The challenge of excellent performance with a modest budget and making an attractive introduction of Lithuania’s ambitious plans.

Probably the greatest challenge of all is the timely completion of the pavilion, which will be visited by a million or even two millions of people, coming to the exhibition from all over the world. What makes the challenge even harder is that the budget, allocated for the participation at the event, is one of the smallest of all Expo 2020 participants. In spite of that, the issues of funding are slowly finding solutions. The Government has recently approved an investment project, which will provide funds for the construction of the pavilion. Aside from the state budget and private investments, a substantial share of the funds will be allocated from the so-called Climate Change Programme. This was enabled by a smart choice of the location of the pavilion (Sustainability area) and the fact that Lithuania’s introduction is organised by the Ministry of Environment, which is responsible for this activity. Recently the preparations for the exhibition have been actively joined by the Ministry of Energy, suggesting the idea that the message about Lithuania’s ambitious plans in the field of climate change should be communicated by the pavilion itself. According to the Ministry, the pavilion should be 100 per cent green, posing no negative effect on the environment, in other words – the building should actively demonstrate the most successful achievements in solar energy and at the same time leave a zero or near-zero CO2 footprint.

The preparations to the exhibition aim to involve creative youth.

As of this year the information on the future world Expo and Lithuania’s preparations are introduced to the public and business at exhibitions and conferences that take place at the Lithuanian Exhibition and Congress Centre. EXPO 2020 stand was especially popular in the international Adventur and Studijos exhibitions, as well as among the participants of the Convene international conference. During Resta international constructions exhibition, which will take place at the end of April, we are hoping to introduce the favourite project candidates for the Lithuanian pavilion and, perhaps, find the company that will build it. We are hoping to showcase the pavilion exposition projects in Baldai. Interjeras. Dizainas 2019, which will take place in autumn. Naturally, the vision of the exposition could attract Lithuanian furniture producers, who would like to make it happen. Lithuanian furniture producers are highly valued and, among else, export quite a lot of their products to the United Arab Emirates. We also hope to receive a lot of ideas from the participants of Login innovation festival, which will take place at Litexpo exhibition centre in early June – we want to use this exhibition to show our special attention to creative youth as well.

Sustainability and Sustainable Synergies section – the best place to showcase Lithuania’s achievements.

In early March, the Brand Lithuania unit at the Government Office, together with the Ministry of Environment, organised a discussion on ‘Introducing Lithuania at the World EXPO 2020 in Dubai’. Representatives of the public and business sector, attending the discussion, talked about the best concept to represent Lithuania’s achievements and satisfy the needs of the Lithuanian and UAE business representatives. Representatives of nonprofit agency Enterprise Lithuania, BOD Group (known for producing highest quality solar panels), Saulėtekis Valley Science and Technology Park, Infobalt Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Industry Association, Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology (MITA), Lithuanian Confederation of Industrialists, Lithuanian Business Association, Association of Lithuanian Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Crafts, as well as other participants of the panel discussion once again approved Lithuania’s choice of the theme of Sustainable Synergies: Sustainability area is the best place to introduce our country’s achievements in the field of science, business, health, tourism and many others. The institution, responsible for Lithuania’s participation at the event, received wide support for the idea of introducing our country as unique, modern and open.

The majority of the suggestions, offered during the discussion are already well known: introducing Lithuania as a great place to live, offering an optimum balance between innovation and nature, huge opportunities to enjoy the green and all four seasons, strong eco-friendly agricultural sector, well-developed medical tourism services, as well as lots of educated and open experts that speak all languages of the world and are ready for the future technology and investments. There were suggestions to invite visitors to the Lithuanian pavilion as an attractive co-working space, creating an opportunity to have a try at the basketball hoop or taste some Lithuanian beer and see the Lithuanian amber, which after a slight relief of the Chinese fever, is increasingly gaining more attention in the Middle East markets.

Science and Innovation Sector focuses on innovative businesses.

The discussion took an interesting and unexpected turn towards Lithuania’s second largest city – Kaunas – and National Science and Innovation Centre ‘Science Island’, which is already under development and will be built on Nemunas island in the near future. Recently we could appreciate the private Modern Art Museum, built in Vilnius (architect Daniel Libeskind), and now the state initiative opens new possibilities for attractive and modern presentation of science. The team of Australian and Spanish architects that has won the international tender with their local partners, has already turned their vision for the science centre into project solutions and the constructions are planned to begin in 2020. The exposition of the Science Museum is developed by the Polish Multimedia Art & Education company and what is left for us is to invite the visitors, especially youth from all over the world, to come to this international innovations’ island and doing it at the Lithuanian pavilion at EXPO 2020 will be very easy, because here we will also focus on youth and their innovative businesses and startups.

The paintings of the Lithuanian genius Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis for the world to admire.

We had been thinking of introducing Kaunas already before, but in a different context – this Lithuanian city will become the European Capital of Culture for the entire year of 2022. Organisers of the European Capital of Culture events are already thinking about a virtual introduction of Čiurlionis’ works in Dubai and are already engaged in discussions with Čiurlionis Art Museum regarding showcasing one or several of the Lithuanian genius’ original works at the Lithuanian pavilion during the world Expo 2020. The promotion of Lithuania’s name will probably also be contributed to by our port town Klaipėda, as well as other Lithuanian cities and resorts.

Lithuanian community in Dubai actively joins the preparations for the exhibition.

Lithuania’s participation at world EXPO 2020 in Dubai is very interesting to Dubai’s Lithuanian community. We made a remote presentation of our plans to the nearly one hundred of its active members, who gathered to celebrate the Independence Day on 16 February at Arselkal Avenue cinema, and now we continue direct communication, discussing possible ways of mutual cooperation and support. In Dubai we have already met Povilas Gudžius, Head of Financial Technology at local Bloomberg office and President of the Lithuanian Business Association in Dubai, as well as continued the discussion of cooperation possibilities with Ieva Naujalytė, Head of Adverum Communications Middle East agency, during her short stay in Vilnius. We have met our fellow countrymen among organisers of the exhibition as well – the event’s Executive Director’s office has Anita Smith as consultant for their event programme.

In the near future we have two technical meetings for all participants of the event in Dubai. One of them, taking place in early June, is dedicated to the content and programmes of events that we want to integrate, while the other – taking place in early May – will focus on the constructions and related questions. We also discuss all daily issues with representatives of the states, building their pavilions, remotely. Some of the most concerning topics include significantly increased construction prices in the region, complex project adjustment issues, permissions and many more. Talking about possible joint events and their topics, we put the greatest focus on youth and women’s involvement in business, startups and sustainable development. European states are preparing for close cooperation and joint events as well, with Italy, the United Kingdom and Czech Republic showing initiative. The EU is not planning a separate pavilion, but discussions on how the EU membership could be reflected by the national pavilions already take place.

The ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ Expo 2020 in Dubai will take place from 20 October 2020 to 10 April 2021, featuring more than 180 states of the world and 25 million visitors with the majority (75 per cent) coming from abroad. The more than 4 km2 territory will have Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability subtheme pavilions, as well as individual pavilions for all statesparticipants – countries that require financial support will have theirs built by the organisers of the event, while the rest will rely on their own funding.

Article from magazine JURA