On January 15th, 2020, the U.S. Department of State announced the participation of the United States in Expo 2020 Dubai, the first World’s Fair in the Middle East.
The USA Pavilion at Expo 2020 showcased best-in-class American ingenuity and thought leadership to the world. The presence of a U.S. pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai was made possible thanks to the generosity of the U.A.E. government. By law, the U.S. Department of State is not permitted to use public funds for international expositions.
The State Department partnered with many organizations and companies to produce the U.S. Pavilion, but it contracted with two key organizations to help build, outfit, and run it:
- The Thinkwell Group, an international experience design and production agency, worked on the content of the USA Pavilion.
- Global Ties U.S., a non-profit public diplomacy organization, focused on the scheduling and event program for the U.S. Pavilion. Global Ties U.S. led the Youth Ambassador Recruitment program.
The official U.S. Government press release announcing the U.S. Pavilion at Expo 2020 stated the following important points:
- Expos, also known in the United States as World’s Fairs, are significant opportunities to showcase American freedom, ideals, enterprise, culture, and global leadership.
- The U.S. pavilion was made possible by the generosity of the Emirati government in recognition of the strong partnership between the United States and the United Arab Emirates. This was a historic opportunity for a global audience to experience the U.S. pavilion and Expo 2020 Dubai when it opened its gates in October 2021 for the six-month long event.
- Importantly, the American private sector had a golden opportunity to showcase its creativity and innovation, as well as pursue business partnerships and new markets with corporate leaders from around the world.
Pictured: The USA Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai
A video produced by the U.S. Department of State and depicting the U.S. role in Expos can be found here.
The USA Pavilion at Expo 2020 was curated so as to depict the unique role that American democracy has played in global innovation. America has always been a leader in this area and the experiential design of the USA Pavilion helped audiences better understand the linkages between American values and progress. The pavilion was organized to take visitors on a journey on a giant “travalator” that traversed much of the exhibit space. Key exhibit areas were planned as follows:
- Hall One: History of American Democracy
- Hall Two: History of innovation in the U.S. and its global impact.
- Hall Three: Impact of American innovation on the MENA region.
- Hall Four: What’s next with regard to technology development and innovation in the near future
- Hall Five: America’s natural beauty, national Parks, and monuments.
- Hall Six: Travel and tourism in the U.S. market.
- Hall Seven: VIP Space, as well as event space for various activities.
On November 18th, 2020, the USA Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai was officially handed over to John Rakolta Jr., Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.A.E. and Former Commissioner General of the U.S. Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, at a small event in the presence of select American and Emirati business executives and officials, including Mr. Ulrich Brechbuhl, Counselor of the Department at the U.S. Department of State who represented former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
This ceremony took place less than a year from the beginning of the global mega event which, following its postponement, ran from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022.
John Rakolta Jr., Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.A.E. and Former Commissioner General of the U.S. Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai and Mr. Ulrich Brechbuhl, Counselor of the Department at the U.S. Department of State place the last star at the U.S. Pavilion
The Business Council encouraged its member companies and partners to engage to the widest extent possible in this important opportunity. And, it worked with the U.S. Government, U.A.E. Government, and many other partners in helping make the U.S. Pavilion a success and Expo 2020 the “greatest show on earth.”