The Israeli pavilion at Expo Dubai 2020

Israel opens its pavilion with big bash at Dubai's Expo 2020

A year after normalizing ties with UAE, Jewish state makes its colorful debut at the massive global event — promoting its high-tech advances and historic sites, all while zany Hebrew music plays in background

Associated Press |
Published: 10.07.21, 19:52
Israel ceremonially opened its gleaming pavilion at the world’s fair in Dubai on Thursday, over a year after normalizing ties with the United Arab Emirates and amid a pandemic that has disrupted much of the tourist and cultural exchanges promised by the U.S.-brokered accords.
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  • The pavilion’s arch — chock-full of flashy videos promoting Israel’s windmills, high-tech advances and historic sights — came to life as night fell. Zany Hebrew music played and patriotic balloons floated — all within eyesight of the Palestinian pavilion nearby.
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    the Israeli pavilion at Expo Dubai 2020
    the Israeli pavilion at Expo Dubai 2020
    The Israeli pavilion at Expo Dubai 2020
    (Photo: AP)
    The Palestinian pavilion has not officially opened its doors at Expo 2020, and employees have reported struggling to get handicrafts out of the West Bank.
    There was a noticeable presence of close protection officers wearing dark suits and earpieces at the Israeli party. Security shepherded reporters through X-ray body scanners into a separate room, a level of security unseen at other pavilions.
    “I am delighted to invite all of you to come and visit my country,” Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov told the crowd of revelers after cutting the ribbon.
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    Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the Dubai Expo 2020 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
    Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the Dubai Expo 2020 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
    Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the Dubai Expo 2020 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
    (Photo: AP)
    Israeli officials — who flew in Dubai to cement ties after the two countries inked a long-awaited visa waiver agreement this week — traipsed through the mirrored pavilion, their reflections unfolding around them. Emiratis in traditional floor-length white dress gazed at panoramic views of Jerusalem’s Old City gliding across vertical screens as a pop rendition of Shalom Aleichem played.
    “It’s not only (about) pavilions and the physical site,” Noam Katz, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said of the Israeli presence at Dubai’s Expo. “It’s power gathering.”
    Ahead of Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s trip to Washington next week, Katz said Israel is increasingly alarmed about Iran's nuclear advances in the wake of the now-tattered nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.
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    People take pictures in the Israel pavilion during a media tour ahead of the opening of the Dubai Expo 2020 in the Gulf Emirate
    People take pictures in the Israel pavilion during a media tour ahead of the opening of the Dubai Expo 2020 in the Gulf Emirate
    People take pictures in the Israel pavilion during a media tour ahead of the opening of the Dubai Expo 2020 in the Gulf Emirate
    (Photo: AFP)
    “We are talking with everyone about our concerns,” Katz said. “Israel will defend itself as needed, but it should be a combined effort with the international community against the threats that Iran poses.”
    Iran maintains that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, and that its recent escalations are meant as leverage to bring the U.S. back to the deal. Former President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal in 2018 and imposed tighter economic sanctions on Iran.
    Tourism Ministry Director-General Amir Halevi said he expects an influx of Israeli tourists to visit Expo in the coming months as COVID-induced travel restrictions ease.
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     A general view shows the Expo 2020 Dubai site
     A general view shows the Expo 2020 Dubai site
    A general view of the Expo 2020 Dubai site
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Both officials said they have not entered the Palestinian Authority’s towering stone structure across the street, but that they would consider a visit.
    “We wish them big success,” Halevi said.
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