New Zealand to join Expo 2020 Dubai’s festival of innovation, collaboration and ideas

Monday 24 April 2017
Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum and Hon Simon Bridges

DUBAI -  MENA Herald : New Zealand may be 14,000km from Dubai, but that has proved no barrier to the nations enjoying many links and a similar vision for their people, reinforced today by the formal announcement of their participation in Expo 2020 Dubai.

The country shares close ties with the UAE, as well as a shared vision in many key areas, such as energy and education. It has also been a vocal supporter of Dubai on its journey to hosting the next World Expo.

New Zealand Minister for Economic Development, Hon Simon Bridges formally announced the country’s participation today by delivering a letter of acceptance from the New Zealand Prime Minister, Rt Hon Bill English.

The Expo will be a festival for all, where, through its theme, ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, it will give people a glimpse into the future as well as providing a platform to encourage creativity, innovation and collaboration.

New Zealand’s desire to take part in the first World Expo in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region is grounded in the country’s core values: Kaitiaki, Ingenuity and Integrity.

Kaitiaki is a New Zealand term used for the Māori concept of guardianship, reflecting the country’s goal of preserving its environment and culture for generations to come. The idea of Kaitiaki, along with New Zealand’s other values of ingenuity and integrity, echo the Expo’s own three pillars: Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability.

The use of more clean energy is a common goal of the UAE and New Zealand, who signed an agreement in 2014 on the deployment of renewable energy solutions in various parts of the world.

New Zealand already generates nearly 85 per cent of its total energy supply using renewable sources, while the UAE has set a target of 44 per cent of its energy coming from clean sources by 2050. Dubai has set its own target of 75 per cent.

His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Expo 2020 Dubai Higher Committee, said: ““There are many goals in common between New Zealand and the UAE including looking forwards to, and working towards, achieving a clean and renewable future. New Zealand’s decision to take part in Expo 2020 underlines the importance that Dubai plays as a global destination and a point of convergence for the peoples of the world, consistent with Expo’s overall theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’.”

New Zealand Ambassador to the UAE Jeremy Clarke-Watson added: “New Zealand has a strong trade and economic relationship with the United Arab Emirates. Our countries embrace innovation and technology so we’re excited to share knowledge and ideas as we work together towards Expo 2020 Dubai.”

Both New Zealand and the UAE have put education at the top of their priorities and share a passion for innovation and smart solutions, goals that are at the heart of the Expo.

However, the Expo will also be a chance for New Zealand businesses to strengthen relations in the region, a point that was noted by the then New Zealand Prime Minister John Key when he meet UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum two years ago.

Mr Key said Expo 2020 Dubai would open up investment, economic and trade opportunities for New Zealand firms, as well as boosting tourism for participating countries. He also said taking part in the Expo would bolster cultural cooperation around the world.

While New Zealand and the UAE already have strong ties in renewable energy, trade and agriculture, New Zealand is also keen to strengthen relations in technology, space, healthcare, environmental planning and protection and medical research.

The country is an important supplier for the UAE’s food and beverage, health and infrastructure sectors in particular. Non-oil trade between the two countries stood at USD 715 million (AED 2.6 billion) in 2015.

Last year, New Zealand’s Minister of Trade Todd McClay said the two governments were committed to growing the trade relationship further during a New Zealand business delegation to Dubai and Sharjah.

He described the UAE – the country’s 12th largest trading partner – as the “gateway for many New Zealand businesses into the Middle East and North Africa”.

After receiving an update on Expo 2020 Dubai, Mr McClay said it was “shaping up to be a world class event promoting business and culture to tens of millions of people”.

Last year, Expo Premier Partner Emirates Airline launched one of the world’s longest non-stop scheduled flights when its direct service from Dubai to Auckland, spanning 14,200km, took off in March. New Zealand is one of the farthest countries on Earth from the UAE, and, with a flight time of just under 16 hours from Dubai to New Zealand and 17 hours, 15 minutes in the other direction, the service cut journey times by almost three hours each way.

Expo 2020 Dubai opens on 20 October, 2020 and closes six months later, on 10 April, 2021. More than 180 nations are expected to participate in total. Participants will also include global organisations, corporations and educational institutions.

More national participation announcements are expected in the coming months.

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