Expo 2020 Dubai: War-ravaged Syria to showcase its ancient glory


Dubai - The country was home to the very first crop yield, alphabet, poem and musical notation.


Anjana Sankar

Published: Mon 20 Sep 2021, 5:35 PM

Last updated: Mon 20 Sep 2021, 5:42 PM

Syria may be etched in people’s minds as a war-ravaged country in the Middle East. Its catastrophic civil war that began in 2011 had displaced millions of people and spawned one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. Many of its cities like Aleppo, Palmyra and Idlib still lay in ruins as a chilling reminder of a decade-long conflict.

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But when you step into the Syrian pavilion at Expo 2020, the doom and gloom give way to evoke the ancient glories of a country that was once home to one of the oldest civilisations in the world.

Dr Ghassan Abbas, Syria’s Ambassador to the UAE and Commissioner-General of the country’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, said their participation in the mega event would take place under the theme, ‘We Will Rise Together’, which is inspired by Syria’s history and future aspirations, according to a report by state news agency Wam.


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Located in the Mobility district, the pavilion will showcase a rich civilisation that contributed towards laying the foundations that connect the world as we know it.

Syria was home to the very first crop yield, alphabet, poem and musical notation, making its culture a treasure trove of history.

The pavilion will display a replica of the Ugaritic alphabet, believed to be the first alphabet in history, dating back to around 1,400 BC.

It will also take its guests on a journey through the development of writing and the alphabet in several areas across Syria.

Visitors will be able to see the alphabet’s impact and the influence of Arabic on many other languages around the world.

They will learn more about words of Arabic origin that are now present in other languages, highlighting that “what unites us is greater than what divides us”.

There will also be an audiovisual interactive experience in which visitors can take part in singing and playing mankind’s oldest musical notation, which was written in Ugarit more than 3,500 years ago.

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Other attractions include a group exhibition for Syrian artists entitled ‘I Am Syrian’. It will showcase artworks that each represent a portrait of a Syrian face, highlighting the similarities that humans share and how, together, people can create a brighter future for Syria and the whole world. Each face displayed in the exhibition will tell an individual story, and all artworks will have a unified signature by the artists saying ‘I am Syrian’.


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