France showcases collective sense

05 April 2022
In conversation with Erik Linquier, commissioner-general for France at Expo 2020 Dubai and chairman of COFREX

This article is a part of a series of roundup features from Expo 2020. Explore MEED's coverage of the expo here.

1. Has Expo 2020 lived up to your expectations?

Yes, of course. The UAE has done tremendous work in building a great hub for many countries around the world and entrepreneurs to come together and share ideas with one another.

This global event, with the slogan 'Connecting minds, Creating the future', constituted a valuable opportunity for France to express its vision of environmental transformation and innovation to build a better tomorrow.

Furthermore, being part of Expo 2020 Dubai created a new and strong opportunity to continue strengthening … relations [with the UAE and the world] and elevating them to new heights.

2. Business partnerships and trade deals signed as a result of the event?

What I can say is that Expo 2020 offered French companies and businesses the unique opportunity to meet partners and competitors in a 'one-stop shop' event of a global size. Every week, we planned events in the French pavilion, connecting French innovators with UAE business partners, as well as international counterparts, to share innovations and [conduct] business.

It is also our ambition to showcase the values of daring, optimism and collective sense. Therefore, we created with institutions, foundations, stakeholders and our partners a cultural, educational, scientific, technological, ambitious and innovative programme for the general public. In addition, we are also working very closely with CCI – the national public body that federates the French Chambers of Commerce & Industry – to create tailored opportunities.

October 2021: France National Day parade on Ghaf Avenue at Expo 2020 Dubai

Nonetheless, our goal is to establish strong relationships through connecting minds and creating a positive future. Expo 2020 Dubai was a platform that showcased France’s expertise in sustainable innovations, through the pavilion’s partners.

3. Impactful moment during these six months?

One of our biggest moments that we look back at and are proud of is the celebration of France National Day on 2 October 2021. Not only did it mark a great beginning for the France Pavilion, but we created a jam-packed schedule for visitors to enjoy and learn about France.

For this special day, we were graced with the presence of some of France’s renowned diplomats including Jean-Yves Le Drian (France's Minister for Europe & Foreign Affairs), Franck Riester (Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade & Economic Attractiveness), and Xavier Chatel, France's ambassador to the UAE.

We also hosted a variety of public activities for Expo 2020 Dubai visitors, including an exceptional aerial demonstration by Patrouille de France, double world beatbox champions Berywam, who rocked the Dubai Millenium Amphitheatre stage, and the fabulous Sigrid, a crazy hatmaker, who styled original hats that distilled the colours of France for expo visitors. 

Another highlight was the [interview] with Thomas Pesquet, French and European Space Agency astronaut, and ambassador of the France pavilion, who went live from the International Space Station.

Furthermore, the UAE’s Golden Jubilee was another significant occasion that was celebrated at Expo 2020 Dubai. The France pavilion welcomed France's President Emmanuel Macron, who visited Dubai and this global event in line with France’s commitment to continuously support the UAE on its greatest achievements and commemorate its 50th  year of formation.

In 2022, the France pavilion marked a great milestone by surpassing 1.5 million visits on 1 March, creating a strong gateway for people to come together to discover the pavilion, connect minds, and create a better future.

December 2021: Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (R), meets with France's President Emmanuel Macron, in the garden of the Leadership pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai

Following that, we gifted UAE Minister of Tolerance Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak al-Nahyan exclusive artwork made by the master of hyperphotography, Jean-François Rauzier, which showcases all of Expo 2020 Dubai’s pavilions to thank the UAE for its efforts in hosting this incredible global event.

4. What’s next for you after Expo 2020?

For the first time in World Expo history, the France pavilion will be dismantled and shipped to France by cargo in 180 containers for relocation.

Philippe Baptiste, president and CEO of the France National Centre for Space Studies (CNES), confirmed the purchase of the pavilion for their Toulouse campus, which will host foreign delegations and campus activities.

The pavilion’s energy-saving features were an attractive unique selling point to CNES and will replace their existing structure.

More from Expo 2020 Dubai:

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