How the UAE is leveraging Expo 2020 to further diplomatic goals and cement its tolerant global image
- International events, national visions, and advocacy initiatives are strategies to promote collective impact
- Tolerance and inclusivity have always been foundational national values which have been at the heart of the United Arab Emirates’ success on the global stage
Since the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London, World Expos have served as a platform to promote humanity’s progress, culture, and foster political and economic cooperation. However, only in recent years, has the organizing body of World Expos, the Bureau International des Expositions, started to make an explicit connection between hosting the event and summit diplomacy. The Shanghai World Expo in 2010, for example, was widely touted by its government as an event to promote global cooperation and engage in realpolitik.
International events, national visions, and advocacy initiatives to focus a particular year on a pressing development challenge, are strategies to promote collective impact and gain the commitment of diverse stakeholders to a common agenda for solving socio-economic problems.
With the Year of Tolerance coinciding with preparations for Expo 2020, inclusivity and tolerance are being underscored as national values as part of ongoing nation building efforts.
However, tolerance and inclusivity have always been foundational national values which have been at the heart of the United Arab Emirates’ success on the global stage.
It is not surprising to see Expo 2020 Dubai embracing inclusivity in the hosting of such a significant global event by inviting all countries in the world.
In 2019, alone the United Arab Emirates has hosted a Papal visit, established several diverse place of worship, hosted several interfaith dialogues, and served as a mediating voice in tensions in countries such as Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Pakistan. Through this gesture of inviting Israel and Qatar to Expo 2020 and the activities under the Year of Tolerance, the United Arab Emirates’ long held national values of inclusivity, tolerance, and dialogue and principles of governance are really on show to the world.