As the coronavirus was spreading all over the world and quarantine was closing state borders, Romas Jankauskas, Commissioner General of the Lithuanian section, made it out of Dubai on 11 March and the processes have halted, but not stopped. Before the legal arrangements regarding the postponement of the exhibition were made (in April-May, the postponement of the event was supported by the absolute majority of the states of the world, including Lithuania), the works at the construction site had slightly slowed down, but never stopped and currently are nearly completed. All general objects and infrastructure are essentially complete, the Expo village for the participants of the event is finished and the dozen-kilometer metro line, connecting the Expo with Dubai city center, was tested in June. The Lithuanian pavilion was busy too: the wooden part (produced by „Jūrės Medis”) has already been delivered to Dubai and installed, while the modular walls and roof of the building are currently installed on the foundation and metal structures, built by the contractors. The particularly high quality solar panels (produced by „SoliTek”) and the rest of the integrated new generation glass-glass solar modules have also reached Dubai. Although the construction schedule has been reviewed and amended, the construction of the pavilion will be completed until the end of this year and the building will get the permission to be operated early next year.
The postponement resulted in a need to review all previously signed agreements and change the deadlines. Thankfully, the cost of participation should not increase, because the contractors will be in no need to rush, while the host state made a very benevolent decision not to change any fees for electricity, water, etc. They will not be increased even if the participants will be needing these utilities for a longer time, e.g. 15 months instead of just 9. It may seem strange, but, during quarantine and after, our direct communication with the organizers, contractors and other partners in Dubai has been more frequent than before the COVID-19 pandemic. Zoom meetings take place nearly every week, while the online International Participants Meeting, which took place at the end of August, was as informative as all the previous ones.
Although, COVID-19 has slightly jumbled up the choice of the interior and exhibition concept – branches with asymmetrical cubes above create the feeling of grandeur and wonder. The project proposal harmoniously combines Lithuanian traditional ornaments, wood motifs, images of nature and the latest technology, which guarantees the establishment of a contemporary exhibition. Its successful implementation will be aided by the recently-introduced ‘Strategy of Introducing Lithuania Abroad 2020-2030’, which established the major values of our country: freedom of creation, improvement, drive and connection with the nature, inviting to position Lithuania as open for co-creation.
There is also some more good news – the long-awaited establishment of diplomatic relations between the UAE and the USA is a huge achievement alone; moreover, the event that was planned to start this year will launch during the golden – 50th – jubilee of the UAE, which will take place on 2 December 2021. And, overall, with no more threat of contamination, people will be free to travel and exchange again, making EXPO 2020 in Dubai (the date in the title doesn’t change!) something that the world will need the most – the long-awaited normal, close human interaction. Therefore, we really hope that the event will not be postponed any further and will start on 1 October 2021 to conclude on 31 March 2022, becoming a truly important global celebration.