In the presence of the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Dubai Expo 2020 Theme Symposium opened with a keynote address from His Highness Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development who highlighted the fact that Connecting Minds, Creating the Future has been a focus for the United Arab Emirates ever since its foundation in 1971.
His Highness Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan addressed the delegates and said, ”Dubai and the entire UAE would be delighted to act as your hosts in 2020, should we have the honour of your vote. In a sense, we have prepared for it since our founding in 1971. We have capitalized on our natural resources and our desire to be a global force for prosperity and peace. We have sought the advice and assistance of skilled people from around the world and have formed lasting international partnerships. We have built a country that plays a prominent role in regional and international affairs – a country where people from close to 200 other nations work and live in peace and harmony. Together we have transformed our landscape and provided a safe and stable environment that nurtures imaginative innovation. We have strong institutions that make continued prosperity and growth possible. We have connected minds and created our future. As our expo bid will coincide with the Golden Jubilee of our nation, it will surely be an extraordinary event.”
During the Opening Plenary of the Symposium the message from the Secretary General of the Bureau International des Exhibitions (BIE), delivered by Mr Dimitri Kerkentzes, BIE Chief of Staff, explained how the UAE’s globally relevant bid theme embodies the spirit of our time and is in line with the traditions and values of World Expo. He said, “Expo 2020 Dubai, with its theme Connecting Minds, Creating the Future translates the very essence of a World Expo to bring together the variety of different identities and experiences. It would be the driving force in 2020 to help unravel the complexities of our interdependent world, and moreover, to help us all understand our role within it and the best way in which we can all make a contribution.”
Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and Special Advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals, spoke on a keynote panel with Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, UAE Minister of Development and International Cooperation, about the importance of taking a holistic approach to development and working in partnerships across sectors and geographies to find inclusive solutions to the complex and interdependent challenges of today and tomorrow.
Delegates also heard from His Excellency Mohammed Al Gergawi, UAE Minister of Cabinet Affairs, about the journey the UAE has taken during the last 40 years and continues to do so as it looks ahead to its golden jubilee, while Mr Tim Clark, President of Emirates Airline, gave an insight into the unprecedented global reach and connectivity of Emirates Airline and its future expansion plans that would bring huge benefit to a World Expo.
Other international speakers, including academics and subtheme experts, gave their own perspective and insights into the opportunities presented by Dubai Expo 2020.
Commenting on the opening day of the Theme Symposium, Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State and Managing Director of Dubai Expo 2020, said, “Our theme Connecting Minds, Creating the Future is perhaps the best way to describe our journey as a country and to distill our vision for a World Expo that truly embodies the expectations of our world in the 21st century. A complex and interdependent world, where we can no longer focus our efforts on one factor alone.”
In the afternoon delegates had the opportunity to explore Dubai and the UAE with thematic and cultural tours highlighting some of the UAE’s key assets and initiatives.
Dubai is competing against three other candidate cities in its bid to host the World Expo in 2020. The final decision will be made on 27 November.