Israel Seen Without Walls in Persian Gulf

Israel’s presence at EXPO 2020 in Dubai is definitely going to be felt across the Middle East

By Yossi Aloni | | Topics: EXPO 2020
Photo: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The above artist’s rendering is what the Israeli pavilion entitled “Tomorrow” will look like for EXPO 2020 in Dubai. 

The Israel team had to make the pavilion without walls so that it can be seen from the outside, thus allowing Muslims and Arabs who are afraid to go inside to be able to see the contents!

The Israeli pavilion is expected to be in a central location at EXPO 2020 close to the host country’s exhibit. The presenter from Israel’s Foreign Ministry will offer explanations in English, Hebrew and Arabic with music by Israeli artist Idan Raichel.

The government has confirmed Israel’s intention to participate in the prestigious exhibition in the Persian Gulf with an investment of 70 million shekels (over $20 million), which will come out of the budgets of various government ministries.

This national project comes as a result of the Foreign Ministry’s diplomacy insuring Israeli participation. The open Israeli pavilion includes large screens that can be seen from every angle (360 degrees) so as to “transmit Israel” out for those who do not enter the pavilion. The exhibition will highlight the values of Israel as an open democratic state and egalitarian society with proven capabilities in the fields of medicine, agriculture and hi-tech.

Elazar Cohen, the organizer of the pavilion, said that Israel’s participation in EXPO 2020 in Dubai constitutes a political achievement for the Foreign Ministry of Israel.

EXPO 2020 is one of the world’s largest events and the world’s longest running exhibition in which most countries around the world participate. Also known as the “World’s Fair,” the international version of the gathering takes place every five years. The Dubai exhibition is the first time in the history of the EXPO that it will be held in an Arab country. The motto chosen for the Dubai Expo is “Connecting minds, creating the future” and focuses mainly on mobility, sustainability and opportunity.

Cohen said: “From past experience we know that there is always a great deal of interest in the Israeli pavilion in the EXPO and the lines to get in tend to be long. We expect the same this year. The pavilion is divided into two parts, an open part where visitors will be able to enter without a queue to work with interactive monitors. At the back of the pavilion visitors can enjoy a normal viewing experience.”

The exhibition is expected to attract about 25 million visitors. “The main target audience for us is the Arab and Muslim audience that is expected to arrive at the event,” Cohen said. “The expectation is that about 25% of visitors will be residents of the Emirates and about 30% from the rest of the Middle East. For this reason we use the services of academics, screenwriters, production teams, and other professionals in order to dispel the concerns among the local residents with respect to the brand ‘Israel.’ We also want to clarify to the visitors that Israel is a regional player with whom they can build a relationship of honesty and partnership for positive results for the region in spite of the real challenges. We want to show Israel’s capabilities to improve civilian life in areas that are important to our neighbors. That’s why it was decided that the language of the display would be in Arabic using a special visual language that combines Arabic and Hebrew letters. In the Israeli pavilion, visitors will see themselves among the many peoples of the Persian Gulf.  Parts of the exhibition will be filled with sand,” Cohen explained.

There is no doubt that the mere existence of an Israeli presence in the United Arab Emirates over a period of months is a success in itself. Even more extraordinary is the opportunity to present to this audience the Jewish state’s values and culture in a celebratory atmosphere.

For the first time ever, Israeli citizens will be allowed to visit Dubai for the EXPO. The Foreign Ministry will publish the procedures for getting a visa as soon as the regulations are worked out. This will be a rare opportunity for Israelis to visit a country in the Persian Gulf.


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