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Preparations for EXPO 2020 Approaching the Finish Line

Only two months to go to the opening of the EXPO 2020 in Dubai. The World EXPO 2020, launching on 1 October to take place for half a year in Dubai, is expected to become the largest and most anticipated international event of this and the following year, perhaps marking the beginning of the post-pandemic era.

Although, the participants of the event decided to postpone the World EXPO for the first time in its history (EXPO events have been held for 170 years) due to the COVID-19 pandemic of an unprecedented scale, it will not change its topic of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, the previously planned number of the participants (192 states) or its title (although the event will start in October 2021 to end on 31 March 2022, it will still be referred to as EXPO 2020). Since it remains difficult to predict the ever-changing situation of the pandemic, the previously planned number of the visitors (25 million visits in six months) and their composition (EXPO Dubai is still expected to become the most international event with more than 70 per cent of the visitors coming from abroad) might be subject to certain changes.

Despite all obstacles, the preparations for the event were like never before with all of its major objects – the entire Expo Site, thematic pavilions (one of them – Terra – has been opened early this year and received 100 thousand visitors), the main Al Was square, conference and concert halls, Expo Village for the exhibition staff, other infrastructure facilities and the 15 km-long metro line from the city to the exhibition grounds – were completed nearly half a year until the event itself. This was witnessed by representatives of the member states that came to the International Participants Meeting in Dubai in early May. Despite strict restrictions on travelling, applied in many parts of the world, the meeting of the World EXPO 2020 participants was attended by 370 guests, representing 173 states and 24 international organisations. This was the last opportunity to have a live discussion of the latest aspects of preparation: final installations in the buildings and expositions, logistics, commercial, business and cultural event issues, and many practical things, a number of which were dictated by the new COVID reality.

During the meeting, many states, including Lithuania, could already admire their pavilions. For this occasion, the Lithuanian delegation organised a symbolic ribbon cutting and flag raising ceremony near the Lithuanian pavilion, which is complete in major part.

Although for a bit more than a year the works were coordinated only remotely, we managed to finish everything on time and even faster than some other countries.’ said Romas Jankauskas, Commissioner General of the Lithuanian section. According to him, ‘the Lithuanian pavilion, built according to the project of MB Baukas, which won the tender, combines modern and traditional architectural tendencies: the visitors step into a cosy wooden construction, decorated with naturalcoloured traditional window shutters, while the building itself is powered by modern solar batteries. The style of the 1,000 sq. m building is an excellent fit with the nearby pavilions of Slovenia and Sweden, highlighting the advantages of sustainable development, illustrated in this part of the exhibition grounds.’

The interior of the pavilion should be as impressive. Modern Narbutas furniture, audio, video and other equipment have already been brought from Lithuania, while the particularly aesthetic and natural indoor exhibition elements are near completion. The central hall of the pavilion will be decorated with an expressive installation Kinetic Tree of Innovation, created, developed and produced by Mart Pro exhibition company, featuring motifs of traditional Lithuanian woven belts, combined with innovative technological solutions on the so-called ‘podiums of success’. They will introduce technology and solutions, developed in Lithuania and in cooperation with other countries, which protect the environment and could change the world (first of all, Lithuanian achievements in life sciences, lasers, renewable energy, circular economy and other most advanced fields). Visitors will be welcomed into the hall by informative and playful transparent glass screens (windows), developed by another exhibition company – Ho Pro, the content of which will feature the recently prepared and approved strategy of Lithuania’s introduction to the world. The screens, leading the visitors out of the hall will introduce the partners and suppliers of the Lithuanian pavilion, also invite everyone to visit Lithuania on some important occasion, for example, in 2022, when Kaunas will carry the title of the European Capital of Culture, or 2023, when Vilnius will celebrate the 700th anniversary, in 2024 – 100 years since the first Lithuanian Song Festival, or 2025 – the 150th anniversary of the Lithuanian genius Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis.

The Lithuanian section is currently intensively working on the business, science and culture event programme at the pavilion. The major highlight is the Lithuanian National Day, which will take place on 22 October this year. For this occasion, public institutions Enterprise Lithuania and Litfood rural business and market development agency took up to organise a business forum in Dubai. The cultural programme of the National Day is organised by Vilnius City Opera – the Jubilee Stage of the event will host the Lithuanian State Symphonic Orchestra (conductor Gintaras Rinkevičius), famous Lithuanian opera singers Vida Miknevičiūtė, Almas Švilpa, Ieva Prudnikovaitė, also young talents Lina Dambrauskaitė, Romanas Kudriašovas and Edgaras Davidovičius. During the Gala concert they will be accompanied and taken over by masters of electronic music – the Lithuanian concert, directed by Dalia Ibelhauptaitė, will be attended by up to seven thousand viewers.

Throughout the entire event, the pavilion will host a variety of smaller and larger events: the fair will begin with a Climate and Biodiversity Week, other weeks and forums will be dedicated to Space Technology, Urban and Rural Development, Knowledge and Learning, Health and Wellness, Travel & Connectivity, Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods and other important fields. The Lithuanian section, which also has a multifunctional space for non-permanent events, will host sustainable design and photography exhibitions, a documentary film week, and in December it will be visited by a group of pupils that have earned the Lithuanian Junior Achievement awards. Small cultural events, featuring our performers, will also be held during the Lithuanian state holidays – on 16 February and 11 March.

The pavilion will have a small restaurant, featuring Lithuanian kitchen, and a souvenir shop. This will be taken care of by companies from Vilnius – Sauluva and Sauluvos Maistas – both of them have already taken part at several previous Expos and should not leave the visitors disappointed. Visitors of the pavilion will be welcomed by a team of twelve guides, currently under training to work at the pavilion with experts, hired by the Lithuanian Exhibition and Congress Centre.