Expo 2020 will take place from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022.

Covering an area of 4.38 km2, the Expo 2020 site is located in the Dubai South district. It is close to Al Maktoum International Airport and within easy reach of Dubai International Airport, Abu Dhabi International Airport and Dubai and Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminals.

The Netherlands pavilion will be located in Expo 2020’s Sustainability Thematic District, plot C-99.

Day visitors and business visitors from all over the world are welcome at Expo 2020.

Around 191 countries and organisations will participate.

The organisation is expecting millions of visits to the Expo 2020 site. Dubai’s international hub function, its geographically central location, and the fact that many large trade fairs are organised in the Gulf region throughout the year are expected to contribute to high visitor numbers.

For multiple reasons:

  1. The Netherlands has a long and strong relationship with the UAE and the Gulf region as a whole. Economic ties are particularly close. Furthermore, the UAE is the biggest trade partner in the Middle East and North Africa and due to its central location the country is considered to be a springboard for the region.
  2. Expo 2020 is the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, and many countries from around the world are participating. Being present will enable the Netherlands to connect with relevant stakeholders and in a much wider region than UAE alone. This includes India, China and North Africa.
  3. More so than with previous World Expos, Expo 2020 Dubai wants to create a platform that enables and encourages government, the private sector and knowledge institutions to collaborate. Expo 2020 wants to be more than ‘just another exhibition’ and is therefore focusing on content and substance. The overall theme ‘Connecting Minds and Creating the Future’ symbolises this, and is a perfect fit for the Netherlands and the theme we have chosen for our participation: uniting water, energy, food.
  4. Expo 2020 specifically wants to focus on the younger population in the Middle East and North Africa. The Netherlands strongly believes that it is crucial to involve young people in finding solutions for the world’s future challenges. This is especially important when developing smart solutions within the water, energy and food nexus, the theme of the Dutch participation.

We view the Dutch participation as a regional project in a global context in which we want to partner with other countries to share our knowledge, expertise and solutions. Why? Countries in the region are large-scale consumers of water and energy, and import most of their food. The rest of the world also faces major challenges with regard to the sustainable use of water, food and energy. Of the 17 SDGs, 11 relate to these three themes. The Gulf states are increasingly aware that things have to change, and have high ambitions in this regard. To achieve these ambitions they need a lot of knowledge and experience. Dutch companies, knowledge institutions and civil society organisations have a great deal of experience and know-how in these areas and can play a major role in meeting these challenges. That’s why all of our stakeholders in the region, including our embassies and consulates, are involved. Specifically for the Gulf, we have opted for a regional calendar of activities that will culminate in our participation at Expo 2020.

Yes, of course.

  • The Dutch government has chosen to approach the participation as a joint project, together with businesses and knowledge institutions. This form of cooperation is common in the Netherlands. To create innovations and stimulate economic development, the Dutch usually work together in a triple helix context in which government, businesses and knowledge institutions work closely together.
  • As the coordinator of the Dutch participation at Expo 2020, the Dutch government meets regularly with representatives of the business community who are represented by the Expo Steering Committee and Working Group which gives strategic advice and guidance. Not only to keep each other fully informed, but also, and most importantly, to ensure that the Dutch participation at Expo 2020 is as business-minded as possible. The overarching theme ‘Uniting water, energy, food’ was chosen in close consultation with the Steering Committee.
  • The Dutch pavilion offers Dutch businesses, including startups and scale-ups, a unique platform where they can showcase their services, products, innovations and solutions to the Gulf region and far beyond.
  • The Dutch participation at Expo 2020 started in Dubai, where the Dutch business community and the Netherlands Business Council, a local network of Dutch entrepreneurs, were among the first to promote it.

The Dutch pavilion, designed as a biotope in itself (Read more under ‘The Dutch pavilion’, ed.), will be constructed with a minimal ecological footprint. This means that as many building parts and raw materials as possible will be rented or recycled. So leaving no physical legacy behind on the Expo 2020 grounds is what the Dutch participation wants to achieve. In this way the designers of the Dutch pavilion illustrate the change in mind-set necessary to start looking at water, energy and food in a holistic way and to find the innovations and solutions needed to unite them.

The Dutch government did not decide on the theme alone. It came about in close consultation with all stakeholders: the private sector, knowledge institutions and municipalities. This elaborate process has led to the theme ‘Uniting water, energy, food’, honouring the thought leadership the Netherlands has historically had in these fields.

In terms of value the Netherlands is the second biggest exporter of agricultural products in the world, after the United States. We are proud of this, but we also realise that we have to shoulder our responsibility in improving the sector’s sustainability.

We are very proud of the current design by the Dutch architects of V8 Architects. It is a truly Dutch design that incorporates Dutch innovations developed by startups and reflects the Dutch values of openness, inventiveness and inclusion. Because we follow the European procurement rules and the guidelines set by Expo 2020, which require the involvement of local partners, an international consortium was awarded the full contract. By tendering the pavilion under a ‘Design, Build, Maintain and Deconstruct’ (DBMD) contract, we adopted a forward-looking approach to building our pavilion. The contract was awarded to a Dutch consortium led by Swiss-based contractor Expomobilia AG and comprising three Dutch companies: V8 Architects, exhibition designers Kossmandejong and engineering firm Witteveen+Bos.

The pavilion was designed by V8 Architects, in close collaboration with exhibition designers Kossmanndejong, engineering firm Witteveen+Bos and the Swiss-based construction company Expomobilia. We are very pleased with the design by V8 Architects. It is a truly Dutch design that incorporates home-grown innovations from both our corporates and startups. It also reflects the Dutch values of openness, inventiveness and inclusion.

The pavilion is a biotope in itself. For climate control it uses a natural flow of hot and cold air generated by the conical shape of the building. The pavilion and its net zero energy climate system provides visitors, tourists and businesspeople alike with an intense sensory experience. They will visit a miniature world in which water, energy and food are intrinsically linked. In the host country UAE, which is largely desert, the Netherlands is creating a biotope in which everything is connected, enabling the pavilion to harvest its own water, energy and food.

As many materials as possible will be reused after Expo 2020, through a rental agreement or a buy-back option in the contracts with suppliers. At the very least, materials will be able to be recycled if reuse is not an option. For example, agreements have been made about leasing and returning steel elements. Alongside the structural elements, furniture will be reused and all technical equipment will be re-installed in new buildings. Small items that have no functional use after Expo 2020 will be recycled into building materials. In that sense, besides energy, water and food, we are also harvesting building materials.

The building itself is a good example of sustainability. To minimise transport, the building will be constructed as much as possible from locally available materials. The interior will include rented materials that will be reused in another building. Other building parts will be returned to their owners or repurposed once the pavilion is dismantled. As a result, its ecological footprint will be minimal.

With a pavilion featuring a unique circular climate system that showcases the Netherlands’ innovative strength, the Dutch campaign and its participation at Expo 2020 will help us to capitalise on trade opportunities in the Gulf region and far beyond.

Yes, that’s the nature of the material. However, all contact surfaces are treated with a transparent biodegradable coating, so it is perfectly safe to touch them and the steel will not stain clothing.

The pavilion will be constructed in Dubai. Only one container with building parts has to be shipped from the Netherlands to Dubai for this purpose.

They come from different parts of the world, reflecting the demographics of Dubai, where more than two-thirds of the population originates from a foreign country.

All contractors and their clients must abide by 10 basic principles defined by the Expo 2020 organisation. The Dutch organisation is committed to employee health and safety. We have noticed that the Expo 2020 organisation is open to dialogue on this topic, and the rules are strictly enforced. The tendering process also involves clear criteria as regards the health and safety of employees. The consortium must comply with these criteria. During the entire building process we check whether they are doing so.

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