After months of frenzied preparations, the much anticipated Expo 2020 Dubai is set to open its doors imminently, with an extravagant star-studded ceremony which will include performances by world-famous tenor Andrea Bocelli.

While speaking to Arabian Business about the UAE-UK Sovereign Investment Partnership recently, Simon Penney, Her Majesty’s trade commissioner for the Middle East, and Her Majesty’s Consul General for Dubai, took a few moments to reveal key insights on the UK’s participation in the World’s Greatest Show.

“We are really excited about Expo. It’s been a long journey to get to this stage – it must be nearly eight years now since the bids, and we’ve had an extension by the year as well – so it’s great to be almost at the opening,” said Penney.

“I’m delighted to say the UK pavilion is ready to open. But I think our focus is less on the traditional heritage view of the UK and all about looking forward and innovating for a shared future as we call it,” he continued.

The UK’s programme is aligned with the Expo’s key themes of sustainability, opportunity and mobility, explained Penney, but also includes within it “eight breakthrough moments”.

“Those are ones where we challenge ourselves and the public with key questions about how we will eat or travel in the future. Under each of those themes, we’re going to be showcasing the best of UK innovation around the future of mobility, the future of autonomous vehicles,” explained Penney.

“It will focus on things like agritech and food security. With a world population growing to 9 billion, the stress on food is going to be acute, so we’re going to be focusing on to that breakthrough moment, on the best of UK knowledge, intelligence and technology around solving challenges that the world faces – we want the UK to be at the centre of that debate,” he continued.

When visitors arrive to the pavilion, they will be asked to provide one word which will be then edited, through artificial intelligence, to create a living poem beamed across the whole façade of the pavilion, shared Penney (pictured below).

“I’d encourage all of your readers to come over and experience our pavilion. The tagline I’m sort of personally adopting is that the whole UK experience will be ‘Davos by day and Glastonbury by night’ because we will be focusing on UK heritage on which we have a very proud and rich history, which we really want to put on the world stage,” said Penney in describing the pavilion.

The comparison to Davos serves to remind visitors that beyond the exhibitions and the festivities, Expo 2020 Dubai is a powerhouse of trade and negotiations.

“We have in excess of over 500 events over the 192 days in our pavilion and as such what’s going to be going on inside our pavilion is a conversation,” said Penney.

“We will be showcasing the best of the UK today but we are also bringing thought leaders, creators and innovators together to have that conversation both physically in the pavilion and also, in this hybrid world, remotely,” he continued.

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