As recently as 2017 there was ample uncertainty in regards to Denmark participating at Expo2020 in Dubai.
There was no funding from the government at the time and hardly anyone believed that a Danish Business Pavilion would ever come to fruition.
But a dedicated few, such as UAE Ambassador to Denmark, Fatema Al-Mazrouei, and Jens Lund, the founder of the Danish Business Council (DBC) in Dubai, refused to give in.
And now, less than four years later, they’ve managed to pull it off – during a global pandemic, no less.
“It is my great pleasure to welcome Denmark officially to Expo2020, which is the result of the collective and unwavering efforts of the UAE Embassy in Copenhagen, Danish Business Pavilion, the Danish Embassy and the Consulate General in Dubai, who shared the common vision that the official participation would be attained,” Al-Mazrouei told Diplomacy magazine.
Green light for green business
The Danish government confirmed last month that Denmark would officially participate in Expo2020 in co-operation with Danish Business Council.
The massive event will kick off on October 1 and run for six months, with over 190 countries taking part.
Scores of Danish companies – including Maersk, Carlsberg, DSV, Nilfisk, Jysk, Rockwool, Lego and Ecco – have already announced their participation, but the organisers are on the lookout for more.
And it’s not just the big guns that are turning up. Upwards of 1,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are expected to join the Danish ranks in Dubai. The DBC is elated.
“We are happy to welcome the Danish government and proud to represent Denmark at Expo2020 Dubai in the UAE – an essential platform to boost the global economy as it recovers from the pandemic, whilst creating unique opportunities to show the world what Danish business can do,” said Lund.
What can the Danes do? Well, for starters, they have certainly shown ambition.
The Danish Business Pavilion is striving to have the most sustainable pavilion at Expo 2020 – quite a feat, considering pretty much every country in the world is represented.
The pavilion is located in the ‘Mobility’ district of the Expo2020 arena and it includes an 18-metre high lookout tower.
And while there is still work to be done, Lund is confident the pavilion will be ready in time for October.
“We are putting the finishing touches to our pavilion and look forward to working closely with our country to share the best of what Denmark has to offer with people from all corners of the planet when Expo opens on October 1,” he said.
As one of the leading catalysts of Denmark’s participation, Al-Mazrouei took part in countless meetings with top executives within the Danish business sector to promote Expo 2020 and encourage official participation.
And while her hard work eventually paid off, the ambassador is well aware she won’t be able to rest on her laurels.
“Personally, Expo has been a constant element in the course of my journey since we established the UAE Embassy in Copenhagen in 2017,” revealed Al-Mazrouei.
“My role is to continue to promote this global event, the ‘World’s Greatest Show’ of human brilliance and achievement, to the Danish public and businesses.”
Al-Mazrouei went on to explain that she believes it is an opportunity not to be missed and a great chance for Danish businesses to “showcase their innovation and promote Denmark as one of the global cleantech leaders”.
2021 will undoubtedly be an extra special year for Al-Mazrouei as her country also celebrates 50 years since the UAE was founded.
The ambassador urged everyone to share in the celebrations of the two major events – the double celebration is actually only possible due to the postponement of Expo2020 from 2020 to 2021 as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Naturally, the organisers are well aware that not everyone will be able to come to Expo2020 as the pandemic continues to rumble on in many parts of the world.
Due to this, there will also be a virtual version of Expo that will reach audiences who are unable to attend due to distance or special circumstances. A critical element of the event is to share information, knowledge and competencies.
“The world is recovering, and we are ready to welcome 190 countries to the World’s Greatest Show,” said Al-Mazrouei.
A critical element of the event is to share information, knowledge and competencies. In fact, Mobility is among the three central themes being pursued during Expo2020 – along with Sustainability (mentioned above) and Opportunity.
In terms of the latter, it’s difficult not to see Al-Mazrouei as a shining example of progressiveness in the UAE.