The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Pavilion on Friday marked Saudi Day at Expo 2020 Dubai with a spectacular show, performances, and activities that highlighted the country’s rich cultural heritage. The celebration included an official opening ceremony attended by high-ranking Saudi and Emirati government officials. The January 7 occasion included a total of 18 events across the Expo site, all carefully curated to embody the Kingdom’s opportunities, innovation, culture, and creativity – exploring its heritage, celebrating the present, and looking ahead to its bright future under the country’s ambitious national transformation program, Vision 2030.
The remarkable celebrations are taking place at a time when the country is extending an invitation to the world to experience Saudi Arabia’s authentic culture first-hand through its state-of-the-art Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. The official ceremony saw the raising of the Saudi and the UAE flags at Expo’s Stage of the Nations, a moving spectacle for all in attendance.
This was followed by a VIP visit to the Saudi Pavilion, which is among the most popular attractions at Expo 2020 Dubai. The Saudi delegation included H.E. Faisal Al-Ibrahim, Minister of Economy and Planning; H.E. Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri, advisor to the Royal Court; H.E. Hamed Fayez, Saudi Arabia’s Vice Minister of Culture; Turki bin Abdullah Aldakhil, the Saudi Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates; Amin H. Nasser, President and CEO of Saudi Aramco; and Hussain Hanbazazah, the General Commissioner of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. The members of the delegation received an exclusive tour of the building, which is Expo’s largest guest nation pavilion.
The UAE delegation included H.E. Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence and Commissioner General of Expo 2020 Dubai; H.E. Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director-General of Expo 2020 Dubai; H.E. Sheikh Shakhbout bin Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of State; H.E. Khalifa Shaheen Al Marar, UAE Minister of State; and Sheikh Nahyan bin Saif bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, UAE ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
Later in the evening, Al Wasl Plaza, hosted “The Glory”, a unique musical show held at the very center of Expo 2020 Dubai. It showcased Saudi Arabia’s exciting future, envisaged through a powerful, visually rich story with state-of-the-art 3D projections displayed across a 360-degree laser projection surface. The event was attended by VIPs, government officials, and business leaders who witnessed a special live orchestral performance with 90 musicians, an opera singer, and the Royal Ardah (Sword dance); a true embodiment of the rich heritage and culture of Saudi Arabia. With roots in military history, and combining poetry, drum music, and rhythmic dancing, the historic and majestic dance is today performed across the Kingdom on special occasions, including at feasts and celebrations.
The performance concluded with a dazzling firework display that lit up the skies above Expo 2020 Dubai. In his speech at Al Wasl Plaza ceremony, H.E. Turki bin Abdullah Aldakhil, the Saudi Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, said: “Today, we gather for Saudi Day to celebrate the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its achievements at Expo 2020 Dubai, kindly hosted by the United Arab Emirates. Through this event, we express our pride in our ancient history, our continuous progress, our ambitious vision, our rich culture, our authentic open identity, our love for humanity, and our tireless work with the world for the prosperity of life, the spread of stability, and the advancement of humankind.
“Much of this can be seen in the Saudi Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, whether through the Saudi men and women working at the pavilion – the real wealth of our country – or through the diversity of contents and exhibits of the pavilion which has hosted about 2.5 million visits at Expo so far. On Saudi Day, we are proud to share with the world our culture, our renaissance, and our vision, towards a common global future, in which we see ourselves with you, and with all those who aspire to build a better future for humanity.”
“Through the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, which was blessed by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, and formulated by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia extends its hands to the world and opens its heart to humanity. It welcomes everyone and invites them to visit and discover its rich civilization, culture, and humanity, as well as its numerous attractive investment opportunities.”
Expo visitors were dazzled by a stunning aerial show that took over the skies above Expo 2020 Dubai. The blue skies turned beautiful streaks of green as the Saudi Hawks, a special unit of the Royal Saudi Air Force, put on an unforgettable show, delicately painting the site in the colors of the Kingdom’s flag and leaving spectators awestruck.
Fashion models in unique designs graced the runway at Al Forsan Park, from traditional outfits reimagined for the future, to everyday items inspired by the Kingdom’s rich heritage as a new, dynamic generation of Saudi creatives proudly shared their work with Expo visitors. The shows featured collections by Saudi designers ‘Reem Al Kanhal’, ‘KafbyKaf’, ‘R9designs’ and ‘1886’.
Business opportunities in Saudi Arabia and the status of its Giga projects were showcased during the ‘Saudi Business Briefing’. The event, held at the Business Connect Center, near Expo’s Al Wasl Dome, included a special presentation by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Investment, which highlighted the Saudi business ecosystem and exciting investment opportunities, under Vision 2030.
Launched in 2016, the ambitious Vision 2030 master plan seeks to diversify the Kingdom’s economy beyond oil through attracting foreign direct investment. Saudi Day activities included a variety of cultural, music and craft shows suitable for the whole family, held at Saudi Park. Highlights included an immersive 360° photographic experience recreating some of the Kingdom’s main tourist attractions, as well as workshops in traditional Sadu weaving and creating floral crowns inspired by the distinctive tradition of the ‘Flower Men of Asir’ of crowning their heads with beautiful arrangements of herbs, flowers, and grasses.
The Saudi Pavilion, one of Expo’s most distinctive structures, hosted a series of colorful performances, including appearances by a military band. Visitors enjoyed watching the ‘Saudi Cultural Parade’, led by 80 military band members featuring trumpets and drums, and a procession of horses that celebrated the unique role these majestic animals continue to play in Saudi culture.
The Saudi Day musical extravaganza included singing sensation, Mohamed Abdu, who delivered a crowd-pleasing performance on the Jubilee Park stage, backed by an orchestra. Lively shows by other artists including Ayed, DJ Faisal, and DJ Leen were part of an impressive line-up of memorable performances — which offered Expo visitors the opportunity to experience the country’s changing music scene. The artists used their popular tracks to showcase how they are redefining the urban music scene, prompting audience members to move to their beats, while traditional music lovers enjoyed classical performances and folkloric music.
The 2.5 million visits paid to the KSA Pavilion so far amount to nearly 30 percent of the total visits to Expo since it opened in October. The Pavilion is a ‘window’ to the world, reflecting Saudi Arabia’s past, present, and future, and showcases its 13 regions through immersive and interactive exhibits. In late 2021, the Kingdom officially submitted a bid to the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) to host Expo 2030 in the Saudi capital Riyadh, coinciding with the year Saudi Arabia celebrates the culmination of its ongoing efforts to achieve the goals of Saudi Vision 2030.