Royal visit crowns the Netherlands’ National Day at Expo 2020 Dubai

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates –The Netherlands celebrated its Expo 2020 National Day on Wednesday this week, with a visit by the Dutch monarchs, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima, accompanied by a packed program of cultural highlights and the formal opening of the Netherlands Pavilion.

They were welcomed by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence, General of Expo 2020 Dubai.

King Willem-Alexander praised the UAE’s falcon-shaped pavilion: “It features a quote by [His Highness] Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first president of the United Arab Emirates. The message is, and I quote, ‘Unity is the way to strength, honour and the common good.’ I wish this country, which is celebrating its Golden Jubilee this year, a future filled with strength and honour.”

Sheikh Nahayan said: “The Netherlands’ theme, ‘Uniting Water, Energy and Food’ brings to our attention some of the most critical Sustainable Development Goals, and highlights the importance of an integrated approach to find sustainable solutions for issues like water scarcity, food security and the energy transition. The unique pavilion showcases innovative technologies and solutions to these global issues, and it aims to leave no carbon footprint behind, using local materials and reducing the need for transportation. After Expo 2020, the building materials of the pavilion will be repurposed or recycled locally.”

Sheikh Nahayan explained how the UAE and the Netherlands will continue to work together, partnering with the Netherlands and Jordan as co-hosts of the Water, Energy and Food Summit, in January 2022.

Also in attendance was Tom de Bruijn, Foreign Trade and Development Minister, who is leading a trade mission to the UAE based on sustainable development, involving almost 50 Dutch companies and Hans Sandee, Commissioner General of the Netherlands at Expo 2020 Dubai and Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Dubai.

Sandee said: “Being a part of this Expo provides us with the perfect platform to allow the Netherlands to connect with Dubai, the UAE and the rest of the world, uniting people, knowledge and ideas, while promoting the best innovations and sustainability projects the country has to offer, especially in the fields of water, energy and food.”

The flag-raising ceremony was followed by a cultural performance featuring the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and Dutch singer-songwriter Hind Laroussi.

Located in the Sustainability District, the Netherlands Pavilion has its own climate system; and produces its own water from the desert using solar power. In addition, it features a 17-metre tall cone which is a vertical farm, supplying a variety of produce including mushrooms. The fungi form part of The Netherlands’ food and beverage offering, and can also be used in building materials for floor and wall tiles.

One of the cultural highlights of the day was ‘Airman’ by Another Kind of Blue, the multimedia dance group. With members originally from the Netherlands – who have appeared on both Britain’s Got Talent and America’s Got Talent – the show features shadows, projections and motion capture, combining dancing with the use of drones for an uncanny visual effect, and a startling unison of man and machine. Visitors to Expo had three opportunities to catch the performance during the National Day at DEC, Hall 2A South.

‘Strandbeests’, the walking skeletons made from yellow recycled electricity pipe by Dutch artist Theo Jansen, which patrol the Expo site at various times in the day, once again made an appearance in honour of the Netherlands’ National Day.

The Netherlands Pavilion also hosted events to tie in with its Youth and Economic Programmes, with guest speakers and members of the Dutch business community as well as young entrepreneurs.

National and Honour Days at Expo 2020 Dubai are moments to celebrate each of the event’s 200-plus International Participants, shining a light on their culture and achievements. (WAM)


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