UAE Milan Expo pavilion could act as focal point for Emirates-Europe co-operation in business and culture


The UAE’s pavilion which currently graces the Milan Expo should act as a bridge between the Emirates and Italy – promoting Arabian culture and design in Europe and providing a point of contact as Dubai looks forward to the 2020 world fair.

That is the view of architect and urban planner Lorenzo Pallotta, the man charged with keeping the legacy of this year’s event alive.

The plan is still  to relocate the Foster + Partners structure in Abu Dhabi – but Pallotta said he wants a lasting memorial to the UAE to remain in his home country.


“I want to explore the possibility of keeping at least part of the pavilion,” he said.

“It can be a bridge between the two countries – and the two Expos. It will be a point of interest in Italy for those who want to learn more about Dubai, whether for business reasons, entertainment or culture. This idea needs to be a matter for discussion.

“Because of the success of the pavilion, the UAE has the power to keep itself in the region.”

Pallotta has been working on the project since its inception.

He said: “In short words I have been working on Expo 20125 since 2008. In fact, since it was awarded until its legacy is now the issue. It has been a great opportunity for the city and although we only have way through its six month period the millions of visitors have shown what a success it has been. There has also been positives from politicians, journalists and citizens. From an economic point of view it has been a boost for the area.

“When it comes to the political angle – well, this topic is the worst. I see it as a sort of ‘Italian story’. We were two and half years into the project before we set down the governance and had the local, regional, state and national governments working together.

“The mayor [of Milan] was to the right and the national government to the left at the start. They then reached an agreement but then came a critical point when finances were the issue. Now it seems an agreement is in place and that needs to continue so that better governance is available in the post event period.”

Now, Pallotta said the legacy of the event is of vital importance.

“We have created a sort of city with its own infrastructure, ICT, other technologies and a landscape, a ring-road, green parks and open spaces. We need to save as much as possible of this 1.2bn Euro investment of public money,” he said.

“It can act as a platform to develop this part of the city. The same buildings, the same structures can remain in place, re-opened and revamped for post-event usage. This needs to be done as soon as the event is over so that what we have created does not lose its value.

“The site chosen is a few kilometres out of the city centre but it has now become a place for people from the metropolitan area to gather and this needs to continue. Parks, open spaces, sports facilities, these are all important but we need to focus on start-ups – innovations which we have seen over the past three to five years continuing into the future.”

Pallotta added time was an important factor in ensuring the delivery of an excellent event as he offered some advice for Dubai 2020’s planners.

He said: “Five years is nothing. We spent the first half of our run up in debate over the partnership which will run the event. I know Dubai is well organized and possible has an easier chain when it comes to decision making. But still, allow plenty of time. Deliver the theme as soon as possible. Give participating countries a route map.”

“Link the event with the city. Don’t leave the urban area alone.

“Try and be flexible when it comes to planning. Don’t fix the aim too much. This allowed us to cope with the economic crash.”


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