Enlightenment from the home of expo

08 March 2020
France hopes to win hearts and minds with both showmanship and business acumen
Q&A with Erik Linquier, commissioner general for France at Expo 2020 Dubai


What is behind the theme of the French pavilion?

The French pavilion is titled ‘Light, Enlightenment’. The pavilion’s theme explores light as an enabler of progress, a vehicle for connections and a source of heat and creativity. It seeks to embody the Age of Enlightenment, the 18th-century movement spearheaded by French intellectuals that emphasised concepts such as knowledge exchange and tolerance.

How does France plan to showcase its innovation at the expo?

Located in the Mobility area, this French offering brings together three groups: industrial players who are starting to develop platform strategies; service operators that are simplifying and personalising access to these services with increased effectiveness, such as in public transport; and technology companies that, having mastered the point-to-point model, are turning multimodal mobility into a reality. It also has the power to involve private and public stakeholders in developing innovative economic models over the long term, notably by combining pure mobility with improved energy and environmental performance.

Who is behind the pavilion and what is the current state of progress on site?

Cofrex, the designated operator for organising and implementing France’s participation in Expo 2020 Dubai, has been allocated a budget of €20m ($21.6m) by the government, supplemented by a contribution of €8m ($8.6m) from French partner companies. The general contractor for the pavilion is a consortium led by Besix in Europe and its subsidiary Sixco in the UAE.

Work started on site in mid-August 2019 and is going very well right now. We are strengthening the sustainability of the building, as well as our commitment to the circular economy, but we also need to work on the content and programming for the six-month event. 

We want the French pavilion to be an attractive spot within the expo site, and we also want to contribute to the broad programme of events all across expo. Thanks to the swift start of work on site, I am very confident that we will stick to the deadline and be ready for soft opening on 20 September.

How will the offering of the French pavilion differ from that of other national pavilions at the expo?

For France, Expo 2020 will be an opportunity to showcase a bold and positive vision of tomorrow’s world. The French pavilion will show how digital innovations can offer new mobility models for all and foster the development of attractive cities.

It will serve as a tool for French companies and all those who innovate. It will be a platform for boosting the international development of all stakeholders, particularly in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, where the majority of expo visitors are from. For this, the project led by Cofrex must represent the French people.

What are your expectations, in terms of developing trade and business relations, during the event?

Expo 2020 offers French companies and businesses the opportunity to meet partners and competitors in a one-stop-shop event with a global reach. Every week, we plan to set up events at the French pavilion, connecting French innovators with their UAE-based and international counterparts in order to share innovations and build new business.

Why do you believe that it is important for France to participate in Expo 2020 Dubai?

Expos have a transformative power in shaping perceptions of nations and cultures, and increasing awareness of the host country and international participants by helping to shape and enhance a nation’s image and reputation.

Taking part in Expo 2020 will bring a number of benefits for participating countries. These include raising the country’s profile among new trading partners and broadening the understanding of their capabilities with these trading partners. 

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