On 23 March, the BeLux Chambers in Asia Collective presented its next High Caliber Speaker web talk. This time featuring two speakers providing our guests insights in how one goes about organizing & postponing an enormous event like the Dubai Expo 2020. The Directors of the Belgium & Luxembourg Pavilions Myriam Cops (BE) and Daniel Sahr (LU) joined us from Dubai. With the end of Expo 2020 near, they talked to our guests about many insightful topics.
Daniel Sahr, the director of the Luxembourg Pavilion in Dubai, kicked off this event by explaining to our guests what exactly an “Expo” is, combined with a lot of background information. He furthermore highlighted the fact that Dubai wanted to take it to the next level by being innovative and that they aimed to add the “human touch” factor, hence the main topic of Dubai Expo 2020: “connecting minds, creating the future”. When Daniel and his team first started to brainstorm for his Pavilion, he asked himself the question: “What does Luxembourg have to say to the world?”, and then all the ideas took its flow, they wanted to position themselves as an open country, dynamic nation, and a reliable partner. They have communicated these 3 elements thoroughly through their Pavilion. On top of this they’ve added a scene called “resourceful Luxembourg” where they’ve emphasized their diversity, connectivity, sustainability and most importantly their beauty by putting Luxembourg’s nature on the spotlight.
It was a very interesting exercise for him and his team to streamline this message to their visitors and according to Daniel the outcome has been tremendous. He shared that it’s been an excellent platform to showcase one’s country as one gets the opportunity to gain worldwide media attention as they focus on this mega event. Finally, he highlighted how much he appreciated the United Arab Emirates’ take on the pandemic by having a “life goes on here” mentality combined with strict, yet livable restrictions.
Then it was the turn of our second speaker Myriam Cops and she underlined Daniel’s statement when it came to the UAE’s mindset. She quoted the UAE’s current leaders’ assertion “If you can dream it, you can do it”. And that was the mindset she kept while directing the Belgium Pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020.
The Belgium Pavilion showcases many innovations and new technologies with a focus on mobility. Besides this, Myriam emphasized the fact that it’s always important to showcase what a country is known for as it invites & connects people. When it comes to Belgium, that is food & beverage. She was able to offer all these factors through their 500m² exhibition offering a glimpse into the future of Belgian mobility technologies & innovations, while also offering a brasserie with a takeaway kiosk for a fix of Belgian specialties in a luxurious yet cozy setting. Finally, a rooftop terrace with a lounge area where people could enjoy the sunset and the view was a hot venue throughout the event.
She carried on by explaining the beginning of her journey at Expo 2020. Even though her journey commenced as a very bumpy ride due to the pandemic and postponement of the huge event, with only 50% of her staff members available, she highlighted that it ended up with an amazing outcome. Myriam also was the director of the Belgian Pavilion in Shanghai and shared that the main thing she learned here in comparison with Shanghai is how important it is to connect with people. Due to the pandemic, she was left with a laptop on a Zoom call some days, brainstorming for the BE Pavilion and realizing how much more valuable it is to have personal contact with people.
In addition, she highlighted how amazing it was to see the grateful visitors, and how great it felt to welcome them to an actual “live” event, moreover we as people have become less critical and more open to new things.
When it comes to special moments during her journey in Dubai, Myriam mentioned and explained how it was to host the Belgian Royal Family visitors but also how it was to host Dubai’s leader Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum at her BE Pavilion. She was absolutely honored and very glad to have the chance to show them around.
We ended this event by asking both speakers what they can share from an organizational point of view. They were both agreeing on the fact that the main goal here was for people to walk away from the Pavilions with new knowledge about Belgium & Luxembourg. The aim was for the younger generation to gain knowledge about Belgium and Luxembourg. According to Myriam this generation is our future; both Directors feel they succeeded in sharing knowledge about Belgium & Luxembourg and both know that they have brought so much impact to their visitors’ experience. With this in mind, they can close up the Expo with a good feeling of satisfaction!