"Nation branding par excellence"

Groundbreaking for the Luxembourg pavilion, depicted here, are scheduled to commence in July.  Metaform

Groundbreaking for the Luxembourg pavilion, depicted here, are scheduled to commence in July.  Metaform

During a Tuesday press conference, members of the Luxembourg @ Expo 2020 Dubai economic interest group (EIG) presented the current status of the pavilion. 

Luxembourg was the first country to sign up to participate in the “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”-themed expo in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) capital--the first Arab city ever to host a world expo aimed at over 25m visitors. 

From entrepreneurship to nature

As the EIG general commissioner and ex-culture minister Maggy Nagel explained, the site on the expo grounds was selected on a “first come, first served” basis. The 2,770m2 pavilion  will be situated on a corner, which should increase visibility to the 150,000-odd visitors expected daily on the expo grounds. The pavillion is furthermore near the main metro hub and apartment blocks, currently under development, where meetings and conferences can be organised. 

Overview of the expo grounds Visual: Expo 2020 Dubai 

The architectural structure, developed by Metaform in the form of a Möbius strip, will take visitors up 21m along a 140m-ramp, estimated to take around 15-20 minutes to walk through. The immersive experience will use storytelling to showcase the country’s diversity, connectivity, durability, entrepreneurialism and beauty. Of course, space and nature will be a part of this storytelling, and elements from the Mullerthal should be incorporated at the end of the ramp before visitors can take a slide (or lift, if they prefer) back down to the ground floor. Nagel added that “symbiosis” between the architectural concept and scenography were important to the organisers from the get-go. Jangled Nerves will be creating the scenography for the experience--although it’s worth noting that Space Factory previously had this role, during the competition phase. 

An on-site restaurant is also planned, with the Ecole d’Hôtellerie et de Tourisme du Luxembourg an official partner to create the culinary concept. An official Luxembourg day will also take place at the pavilion on 23 January 2021, which coincidentally is the birthday of former Luxembourg Grand Duchess Charlotte.

Concerns around workers’ welfare, impact 

A concept over two years in the making, the pavilion will finally break ground in July, overseen by Swiss firm Nüssli Adunic, with some 75 years’ experience, particularly in temporary constructions. As Nagel pointed out, the company will involve workers not only from Europe, but also places such as India and Pakistan. 

Nevertheless, as both Nagel and secretary general Marc Scheer explained during the press conference, the company is required to adhere to commitments with regards to workers’ welfare put in place by the Expo 2020 organisers. 

Other concerns linked to the pavilion were also addressed on Tuesday. According to the EIG, a minimum of 65% of the pavilion (steel, concrete, etc.) will be reused after the pavilion is taken apart in Dubai. When pressed by the media on the overall impact such a pavilion has, the organisers did not confirm whether a follow-up report was foreseen; however, Daniel Sahr, pavilion director, called the pavilion “nation branding par excellence”.

First sponsors revealed

Nagel revealed the first sponsors of the Luxembourg pavilion during the press conference, which include the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, Post Luxembourg and satellite operator SES, contributing a combined total €7.5m of the €32m total budgeted for the pavilion. 

Also among the sponsors are ArcelorMittal, Cargolux and Rak Porcelain (qualified as “Diamond” partners, qualified at €500,000 each); and “Silver” sponsors, Guardian Glass, MCM Steel and ULT (€50,000 each). “Gold” sponsorship is also available (€250,000), although these have yet to be signed.