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Abdullah approves UAE pavilion's designs at Expo Zaragoza 2008

posted on 16/08/2007: 1628 views

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chairman of the National Media Council (NMC), approved on Monday plans for design and construction of the UAE's pavilion at Expo Zaragoza which will take place from 14th June to 14th September 2008 in Spain under the theme 'Water and Sustainable Development'. The pavilion designs fit well into the theme of the Expo which has special importance to the UAE. The UAE will use the opportunity to further strengthen its credibility as a leader in the field of water and sustainable development.

Conforming with the 'green' ethos of the Expo, the UAE will show visitors the pivotal role that water has played in the country's development. The UAE has faced serious challenges to its supply, delivery and conservation of water and the exhibition will tell this story in an entertaining and informative way.

Through its 580 square metre pavilion, the UAE will exhibit its pilot projects and rich experience on conservation, management, development and delivery of drinking water resources since man in the UAE used the ancient Falaj system of underwater channels more than 2000 years ago up to the modern water technology.

Organisers expect 8 million persons to visit the three-month long global water show which draws 99 countries.

Sheikh Abdullah said the UAE's participation at the high profile Expo 2008 would have far-reaching positive impact at world level. This, he added, will be achieved through a massive media campaign in various local and international media outlets.

Whilst the UAE has not always been as naturally dry as it is today, and there have been periods in the distant past when extensive savannah and marshlands provided habitats for a wide range of wildlife, in recent centuries the region has been among the driest on our planet. Prior to the discovery of oil, traditional life depended upon well established measures to collect, store and conserve freshwater. Whilst the scale and methods have changed but the basic principles remain the same and Emirati citizens, especially the older generation, are very much aware of the value of water. The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founding father of the UAE, used to regard the provision of reliable and adequate water supplies as his greatest achievement.

Today the UAE is in the midst of an unprecedented expansion phase involving massive construction projects (themselves huge consumers of freshwater) and a surge in population. Water to service the country is supplied, in part, from some of the world's largest desalination plants and there is an active programme for further development of these.

Meanwhile collection and storage of water in mountain dams, rationalisation of groundwater usage, and new methods of producing freshwater are being implemented. There is a new focus on the need to provide sustainable answers to this and other environmental issues in the UAE.

The UAE may have one of the world's smallest supplies of natural freshwater but it also has one of the world's largest supplies of that other precious liquid, oil. This, together with its natural gas, has supplied the means to invest in a water infrastructure that serves the needs of its people.

Expo Zaragoza 2008 will also tell this story and show how the UAE has counteracted its water shortage by technically innovative projects funded from oil and gas. It will also reveal how it is now exploring use of alternative energy sources to meet the challenges of the future.

In order to illustrate the UAE's story in connection with water a number of films and publications are to be created, together with a unique multimedia presentation. Production of these has already started and filming is due to take place from October 2007 to February 2008.

The professional camera crew contracted to produce the film is being spearheaded by multi-award-winning BBC Blue Planet cameraman, Doug Allan, who has been described by eminent naturalist, TV presenter and author, Sir David Attenborough, as 'one of the best cameramen in the world'. The filming team plans to work with individuals and organisations throughout the UAE to tell stories that relate to freshwater, both from natural and wildlife viewpoints and from urban and industrial perspectives. Not only will these films appear at Zaragoza, but they will also be shown on broadcast channels worldwide and be distributed over the Internet and on DVD.

The pavilion itself has been designed to create a memorable experience for its visitors and details of what is planned will be revealed shortly. A team has been established by the National Media Council to oversee the project as it enters its final design and construction phase in time for a grand opening in June 2008. (Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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