Slovenia's Expo Dubai pavilion ready for showcase
Ljubljana, 19 January - Slovenia is to take over the management of its pavilion at Expo Dubai next week on the sidelines of Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek's visit to the United Arab Emirates. The exhibition is to help with Slovenia's economic recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic, said the minister Tuesday.
Ahead of his visit, which is to start on Sunday and wrap up on Wednesday, Počivalšek said he was glad to see plans to expand Slovenia's economy to the fastest growing markets coming to life. One of these markets is also the United Arab Emirates, he told an online press conference.
"This year the icing on the cake of our export efforts will be active cooperation at the greatest world event, that is Expo 2020 Dubai," he said.
The expo was supposed to kick off last year, however it was pushed back due to the pandemic, retaining its name Expo 2020.
The minister said that the organisers had used the extra time well, noting that one of the main pavilions, dedicated to sustainability, was already open for visitors.
Expo Dubai is a starting point for new collaborations in markets where more than three billion of people reside, Počivalšek said.
"Efforts to expand Slovenia's cooperation with the Gulf countries and those in south Asia and Africa are of strategic importance to us and a series of activities has been focused on that in recent years."
Such efforts have already produced results in Slovenian companies, particularly in case of pharmaceuticals, household appliances makers, steel and ironwork companies and the wood industry.
Strengthening economic cooperation with South Asian, African and Middle East countries is also key in light of post-Covid relief efforts.
The ministry's aid and investment programme would be only a short-term solution if there are no boosts for companies that are entering those markets, Počivalšek said, vowing the companies would receive state aid.
The aim is to strengthen Slovenia's presence in the markets that will be in the spotlight of Expo 2020 in the mid- and long-term.
Expo Dubai is already considered a milestone since a record number of countries will participate in the showcase - a total of 194. The organisers expect 25 million visitors and more than 280,000 new jobs to be created.
Slovenia's pavilion will be one of the 83 separate venues with the country presenting itself as well as EU content since the bloc will not have its own pavilion this year.
Slovenia is expected to get extra attention in light of its EU Council presidency in the second half of 2021 when the Expo is scheduled to start, Počivalšek noted, adding that the timing was perfect.
"There will not be a better opportunity to launch Slovenian knowledge and services in new markets this year or in the next years," he said, urging companies and other stakeholders to join forces.
Slovenia's Expo 2020 commissioner general Matic Volk pointed out that Slovenia's pavilion was placed in the sustainability venue, right by the expo's entrance. The structure boasts Slovenia's natural resources - wood, greenery and water. The country's promotional slogan at the expo will be Green, Creative, Smart.
Expo Dubai is a great opportunity to showcase our sophisticated smart and green technologies and their contribution to a better and more sustainable world, said SPIRIT acting director Tomaž Kostanjevec.
"It also gives us an opportunity to put Slovenia on the global map as an appropriate and reliable business partner as well as an attractive destination," he added.
Kostanjevec noted that numerous Slovenian companies were already present in the United Arab Emirates, including in advanced technology solutions, green economy, smart cities, health services, design, biotechnology and waste management.
There is still untapped potential in areas such as logistics, infrastructure, energy, high-tech sector, healthcare, food production, tourism and AI. The aim of the Expo participation will thus be also to promote networking, he added.