The Ukrainian pavilion at Expo Dubai, a bulwark of solidarity against war

This content was published on March 09, 2022 – 11:28

Inigo Alvarez

Dubai, March 9 (EFE).- The Ukrainian pavilion at Expo Dubai has become a bastion of solidarity with the Ukrainian people and a cry against war through the handwritten messages that cover its walls and left by visitors from all over the world who come to this event in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“We are with you” and “God bless Ukraine” are the most common messages among the thousands of colorful cards that fill the pavilion, although others of a pacifist nature also abound, such as the classic “Do the love, not war” which dates back to the 1960s and the Vietnam War.

“These solidarity murals were not an idea of ​​the pavilion staff or communication managers, it all started when two children asked if they could hang messages of support on the wall of the pavilion. Then many adults have imitated”, triggering this “small miracle” of an avalanche of similar handwritten notes, explained to Efe Kateryna Moroz, manager of the exhibition spaces of the Ukrainian pavilion.

From now on, visitors receive colored cards and markers. And they receive a blue and yellow ribbon – the colors of the national flag – to show their support for the country attacked by the Russian army since February 24.

At the entrance to the pavilion, they can also take a selfie with a life-size image of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who appears in a video alongside a map assuring that they will defend the territorial integrity of the country and “recognized internationally”. borders.

Among those who wanted to leave a few words of support “in these difficult times for the Ukrainian people” is José Reina from Madrid, accompanied by his wife, who has a daughter-in-law of Ukrainian origin.

Also the Portuguese Luisa Costa, arriving from Porto, who stressed “feeling very close” to the suffering caused by the war, or the British Laura Shaw, asking “that peace return soon”.

UNCERTAIN FUTURE

About 40 employees work in the pavilion, almost half of whom came from Ukraine. They maintain their commitment to work until the end of the month at the Expo, but they express their desire to return later with their families, who in many cases are refugees in countries neighboring Ukraine.

“We can’t know what the future holds, there are a lot of unknowns,” Maria Yahya, a volunteer from Kyiv, told Efe. “Sometimes I feel guilty for being here, but I realize that what we are doing is important,” he adds, distributing materials to visitors.

IMPACT ON EXPOS

In a letter to the Secretary General of the BIE (Bureau international des expositions), the Paris-based body that regulates the Expos, Ukraine’s Economy Minister Yulia Svyridenko denounced the “unjustified” attack by Russia against his country. .

In the letter, to which Efe had access, it is explicitly requested “the closure of the Russian pavilion at Expo 2020” and the exclusion of this country “from the list of candidates for Expo 2030”.

The next Universal Expo is already scheduled for Osaka (Japan) in 2025, but the BIE General Assembly will have to meet to vote on the location of Expo 2030, to which Moscow, Rome, Busan (South Korea) and Riyadh, as well as the Ukrainian city of Odessa.

Meanwhile, the Russian pavilion – a hemisphere covered in tubes of different colors – is still open and with a large flow of visitors who come to learn about the contributions of Russian scientists that have benefited humanity, with a giant replica of a human brain and numerous multimedia exhibits.

“We are operating completely normally,” assured one of the employees who controlled access to the site at Efe, who preferred not to give his name.

This same habitual activity was observed in the pavilions of other countries also affected by the conflict, as is the case of Belarus or Poland.

Expo Dubai, organized under the slogan “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”, will close its doors on March 31 after six months of activity.

The number of visitors has already exceeded 16 million, in the first such event in an Arab country and the first with a global audience in the post-pandemic phase.

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