The United States said its participation at this year’s World’s Fair in Dubai is being made possible by “the generosity of the Emirati government”.
The US State Department said Emirati sponsorship of America’s pavilion, estimated to be at least 60 million US dollars, was made “in recognition of the strong partnership between the United States and the United Arab Emirates”.
The UAE’s sponsorship raises a number of questions, such as why American businesses are not paying directly to participate under the umbrella of the US pavilion.
Some leading US-based brands could choose to participate independent of the US pavilion.
— Expo 2020 Dubai (@expo2020dubai) October 13, 2019
Also, it is unclear how the United States government will now decide which companies and products will be featured in the pavilion, and whether the host nation could have a say in the content that’s being showcased.
Expo 2020 Dubai organisers said that, in line with regulations overseeing World Expos, the host organisers provide advice and guidelines on pavilion design, while the content of the pavilion itself is decided by the participating country.
Businesses also take part in the process, either as commercial partners for Expo or as sponsors of the various national pavilions, according to fair organisers.
— Department of State (@StateDept) January 15, 2020
They said US-based brands PepsiCo, Cisco, MasterCard, UPS, Domino’s Pizza, and Christie are participating as commercial partners.
Dubai is pouring billions of dollars into Expo 2020, hoping the exhibition will generate new business and spur its economy amid a slowdown in growth.
The expo starts in October and runs for six months.
It marks the first time a country in the Middle East hosts the fair, which showcases technology and the most innovative ideas of the future.
The light bulb and the Ferris wheel were showcased at the 1893 fair in Chicago.
The X-ray followed at Buffalo’s 1901 fair, and Seattle’s Space Needle opened to visitors at the 1962 fair.
“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 US State Department said in its statement.
The Expo also gives the American private sector a “golden opportunity” to pursue business partnerships and new markets with visitors from around the world, the statement added.
The US-UAE Business Council said in a statement that its member companies have worked tirelessly to build awareness and garner support for the Dubai Expo.
The business council said it encourages its member companies and partners to “engage to the widest extent possible in this important opportunity.”