Opening its doors to in-person visitors on 1 October 2021 for six months in Dubai, Expo 2020 is hoped to become the largest and most awaited international event this year and next. The concept of Lithuania’s pavilion builds on country’s positioning concept Open for Co-creation outlined in the Strategy for presenting Lithuania abroad, showcasing Lithuania as a modern and co-creative country with plentiful economic potential and creative capacities for global solutions that are set to change lives in and beyond Lithuania.
Though this mega event for the first time in its history (it has been running for 170 years now) had to be put back till 2021 due to the unprecedented global COVID-19 pandemic, no changes have been made in its theme (‘Connecting Minds and Creating the Future’), in the number of participants (192 nations), and its title, which, despite the fact that the show will run from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022, will still be EXPO 2020.
Because of the pandemic volatility, the previously planned number of visitors (25 million in six months) or their composition (Dubai EXPO still claims to be the most international show with more than 70% of international visits) is likely to change slightly.
‘Despite all the disruptions, the preparation for the exhibition is as good as never before’, says Romas Jankauskas, General Commissioner of the Lithuanian Exposition and Head of the EXPO Division of the Ministry of Environment. ‘All its key elements have been put in place: the exhibition facilities, thematic pavilions, Al Wasl Square with an impressive dome, conference and concert halls, an accommodation area for exhibition staff, other relevant infrastructure, a new several kilometre-long metro line from the city to the EXPO, and national pavilions.’
Designed by MB Baukas, the Lithuanian pavilion brings together the elements of tradition and modernity: visitors are welcomed at a cosy wooden structure decorated with traditional window shutters and topped with a modern solar power station. This 1 000 m2 structure fits well stylistically between the adjacent Slovenian and Swedish pavilions, emphasising the advantages of this part of the exhibition dedicated to sustainable development.
The central hall of the Lithuanian pavilion houses a Kinetic Innovation Tree––an impressive installation designed and manufactured by the exhibition company Mart Pro featuring traditional sash motifs closely intertwined with innovative technological solutions presented in the so-called Podium of Success, showcasing technologies or solutions generated solely or partly by Lithuania to protect the environment and bring about global change (with particular focus on Lithuania’s achievements in life sciences, lasers, renewable energy, circular economy, and other trending fields). The hall will also contain a reduced model of the Portal connecting for now Vilnius and Lublin but with a potential to expand its reach in the future. The entrance walls will be lined with informative and playful clear glass screens (windows) fitted by yet another exhibition company Ho Pro to reflect the recent Strategy for presenting Lithuania abroad. The screens at the exit of the hall will present the partners and suppliers of the Lithuanian pavilion and transmitting an invitation to visit Lithuania at all times, but particularly at the time of special celebrations, e.g., in 2022, when Kaunas will be the European Capital of Culture, or in 2023, when Vilnius will be marking its 700th anniversary.
Efforts are taken to make ready good programme of business, science, and culture events. The key highlight will be Lithuania’s National Day to be celebrated in the exhibition on 22 October. An initiative to organise a business mission and a forum on this occasion has been taken by Enterprise Lithuania together with Rural Business and Market Development Agency (Litfood)and other partners.
‘The world exhibition EXPO 2020 provides a momentous opportunity for Lithuanian businesses to make new business contacts and strengthen the existing ones, particularly in the framework of the business forum and business meetings in Dubai. In fact, the achievements of Lithuanian businesses in the UAE market are something we should be proud of. Lithuanian furniture, electronic devices and food products are already on this market. Through their representative offices in Dubai, Lithuanian multinational companies have developed a successful reach across the entire region. Rich business experience, export trends and market knowledge allow us to identify Lithuania’s priority sectors with greatest potential for successful commercial cooperation. The business forum and meetings will be attended by over 50 Lithuanian companies from the fields of energy, mobility, ICT, engineering, life sciences, biotechnology and lasers, and other companies looking for partners in the UAE, who will undoubtedly create new business success stories’, said Daina Kleponė, Managing Director of Enterprise Lithuania, entrepreneurship and export promotion agency.
According to Šarūnas Celiešius, Director of Rural Business and Market Development Agency Litfood, the UAE market and the entire Gulf region in general have great appeal to Lithuanian food and other industries, and it ranks highest among priority export markets. Our hopes are that the future business forum and business meetings will lay a solid foundation not only for large but also for small companies that take first steps in foreign markets: ‘We trust that value-added Lithuanian products and technological solutions will capture potential partners’ attention, and thus ensure closer bilateral commercial cooperation, while opening up the markets of the Middle East and Africa. The exhibition and business forum showcase innovative solutions, such as the snack printer developed by SuperGarden together with KTU scientists, or AUGA group innovations in agriculture and food production at no cost to nature, which will undoubtedly add to positive marketing of Lithuania as an innovative and sustainable country with plenty to offer.’
An innovative edge and capacity for global solutions will be a key message in showcasing Lithuania and its economic potential at the National Pavilion and the business forum. The themes of the business forum include life sciences, biotechnology, and lasers; ICT with a focus on cyber security, FinTech, GovTech and artificial intelligence; energy innovation, particularly solar energy, and hydrogen technology; food industry and food safety. The business forum will take place on 22 October, and business meetings, on 24 October.
Vilnius City Opera has put together a cultural programme of the National Day: the Jubilee stage will feature the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra (conductor Gintaras Rinkevičius), well-known opera singers: Vida Miknevičiūtė, Almas Švilpa, and Ieva Prudnikovaitė, and young talents: Lina Dambudriakaitė, Romanas Kudriašovas, and Edgaras Dovidovičius, together with masters of electronic music. Directed by Dalia Ibelhauptaitė, the festive concert is ready to welcome up to seven thousand spectators.
There will be a number of smaller or larger events throughout the exhibition, including a week on climate change and biodiversity as a kick-off event, followed by time for events on space technology, urban development, knowledge and education, health, tourism and travel, agriculture and food industry, etc. The multifunctional space for fleeting events will feature exhibitions on sustainable design and photography, documentary film week, a group of Lithuanian Junior Achievement award-winning students, country’s real estate developers, and several business delegations. Small-scale cultural events featuring our national performers will be held in celebration of the Lithuanian public holidays: 16 February, and 11 March.
The pavilion will house a small restaurant serving Lithuanian dishes and drinks, and a souvenir shop. The caterers are Vilnius companies Sauluva and Sauluvos maistas. The team of twelve guides is currently being trained by specialists hired by the Lithuanian Exhibition and Congress Centre.
Dating back to 1851, the world exposition has never lost its vitality and zest for change, and thus has remained relevant to this day. Its importance and popularity bring it in parallel with the Olympic Games and other key international events. The six months-long event recurs every five years. Its participants are almost all the countries of the world (for example, 155 States in 2000 in Hanover, 192 in 2010 in Shanghai, 144 in 2015 in Milan), it is visited by millions of people (for example, a record set in Osaka in 1970 with 63 million visitors was broken in 2010 with 73 million visitors in the exhibition in Shanghai.
Lithuania has been officially participating in EXPO since 1937. It has not missed a single one after it regained its independence (13 in total). Eight of them were organised by the Ministry of Environment.