Many people criticise South Africa’s stand at Expo 2020 in Dubai, but the government claims it is an excellent showcase of the country’s value proposition.
Expo 2020 is a world expo hosted by Dubai from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022, with nations and organisations investing in “pavilions” to promote themselves.
The government said South Africa’s participation aims to revive the economy and create opportunities for inclusive growth.
“South Africa, as a participating country, will showcase its value proposition at the South African pavilion,” the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) said.
“It promotes trade and investment, our world-class innovative technologies, creative arts, tourism, sports, and its unique cultural diversity.”
It added that the expo provides the country with an opportunity to showcase its vast and diverse array of economic, cultural and tourism opportunities to the world.
“Team South Africa will also emphasise agriculture and global business services, the mining, manufacturing and advanced manufacturing sectors — all key creators of jobs that fuel economic growth,” the GCIS said.
The aim is to give investors and visitors an authentic experience of what South Africa offers through virtual exhibitions to enable visitors to engage with companies in virtual discussions.
While these are noble objectives, many South Africans who have seen the country’s pavilion are not impressed.
Sygnia founder and executive chair Magda Wierzycka described the South African booth at the expo as “beyond sad”.
“For a beautiful country like South Africa, we showcased nothing,” said Wierzycka.
Many others shared this view, saying it was the worst display of any country and a far cry from the “truly majestic pavilions erected by other countries”.
“The other countries put so much effort into their pavilions. They were intentional about what they wanted to highlight and showcase to the world,” a South African living in the country said.
“South Africa was so disappointing. We could have built a stunning pavilion, but the opportunity was wasted.”
With conflicting views about the South African pavilion at Expo 2020 in Dubai, here are photosof the stand so South Africans can judge for themselves.