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Our Theme

Under the heading ‘Food for Thought’, the UAE Pavilion has embraced the Expo 2015 theme in all its exciting and challenging facets, using our own experience of living in a region where water is more important than oil and where the focus now is on alternative energy.

Our story reflects the values of resilience, inventiveness and hospitality that we acquired from our frugal but sustainable past, outlines the issues that have arisen by our remarkable transformation to a thriving dynamic state, and explores the partnerships that we are forming that will harness creativity and innovation to address the challenges of the future. But we are not content with solving problems relating to food, energy and sustainability on our own behalf, we wish to share ideas and solutions with the world.

And so, although the central theme of Expo 2015 is nutrition, and human nutrition first and foremost, it also requires participants to focus on nurturing the environment in which we live, the fundamental source of subsistence for all people on the planet. 

This story drives four fundamental thematic principles that encapsulate and are the basis for all aspects of the visitor experience throughout the pavilion.



Living with what you need, conserving what you have



Using and respecting the natural world



What you are not given you invent



No one survives alone

Our Building

The UAE Pavilion is situated on one of the larger self-build plots at Expo 2015 and enjoys a prime location at the centre of the Expo site adjacent to its main axis, the Decumanus.

Recognising the significance of the UAE’s contribution to World Expos, the UAE commissioned the world-renowned architectural practice Foster + Partners to design a state-of-the-art pavilion that would reflect the country’s heritage and its focus on sustainable development. Foster + Partner’s brief also required the pavilion to achieve exceptionally high standards of sustainability and be demountable so that it could be returned and rebuilt in the UAE.

“The influence of sand, an ever-present element of the UAE landscape, is evident throughout the building.”

Foster + Partners took their inspiration from the evocative landscape and sustainable traditional architecture of the UAE. This ethos is also reflected in Masdar City, the UAE’s future energy complex and Masdar’s tall narrow streets and open courtyards, intended as self-shaded pedestrian routes in a car-free city, form the basis of the UAE Pavilion design.

Not only sand as a material but also the effect of wind on dunes, producing incredibly beautiful curvilinear forms. As a result, sinuous textured walls surrounding fluid open spaces are a constant feature.

But the pavilion building is not a separate entity in itself: the physical structure, landscaping and content work together to provide a holistic interpretation of the Expo theme, providing visitors with a unique and thought-provoking experience.

The Journey

“Visitors will be attracted to the UAE Pavilion by the imposing nature of curving, high tactile walls that enclose a dramatic entrance lined by a 75-metre-long video display, a digital falaj.”

An echo of the ancient water channels that were so vital to life in the UAE, this falaj delivers media tablets that will introduce visitors to our theme and its four organising thematic principles: Sustain, Care, Innovate, Share. Visitors commence their audio-visual journey up a ramp, embarking on an enthralling dialogue that will be educational in content and entertaining in delivery.

Pausing for a short rest before the main show, visitors are at liberty to engage with Emirati ambassadors, exchanging stories and experiences.

The first part of the main show is contained within a drum that rotates the auditorium. This is the beating heart of the pavilion, a hugely cinematic experience that dramatises our theme, leaving an indelible impression on the audience.

Exiting from the drum, visitors are drawn into the second part of the show. Dubbed ‘Future Talk’, this section is inspired by the brilliantly accessible TED Talk phenomenon. Visitors are now standing in a media-rich immersive environment. Emirati presenters use a range of dynamic effects to unravel the threads of our theme, presenting initiatives and solutions to global challenges of nutrition, energy and sustainability, at all times provoking and engaging the audience to make a difference in their world.

A ramp takes the visitor down into a sensitively landscaped oasis space, with a Dubai 2020 exhibition area, café, restaurant and terrace. Here there is an opportunity to relax and discover, explore and taste Emirati-inspired food and the contemporary food culture of the UAE.

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