Inclusive global health system to be Dubai Expo's legacy: Reem Al Hashimy

Dubai - The expo is expected to host more than 25 million visits from across the globe when it opens doors in October next year


Anjana Sankar

Published: Sun 20 Dec 2020, 5:53 PM

Last updated: Sun 3 Jan 2021, 2:43 PM

Launching an inclusive global health system capable of preventing and tackling disease outbreaks will be one of the legacies of Dubai Expo, said Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation and director-general of Expo 2020 Dubai Bureau.

“Expo 2020 will bring experts together to help design an inclusive, crisis-proof global health system fit for the future,” said the minister in an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times.

“It (Expo) will also showcase the latest innovations in mobile health and medical technology that are transforming the way communities access healthcare and averting disease outbreaks,” she said.

Touted as the biggest show on earth, Dubai Expo is the first to be held in the region. It is expected to host more than 25 million visits from across the globe when it opens its doors on October 1, 2021.

Creating a healthier, happier global society through health and wellness will be a special focus of the mega exhibition that was postponed for a year due to the pandemic, said the minister. “The pandemic has reaffirmed our three subthemes Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability as critical drivers of progress and prosperity for both people and planet.”

Even before doors open (for Expo), she said, people and organisations “have been rising to the challenge with solutions to make quality healthcare accessible to all”.

Elaborating on initiatives undertaken by Expo to fight Covid-19, Al Hashimy said the Global Best Practice Programme under Expo launched a call for proposals for projects that are helping people respond to the pandemic. “Those selected will join the existing cohort of 45 projects, many of which focus on health, such as Medic Mobile’s Community Health Toolkit in Kenya, which supports health workers as they deliver high-quality, equitable care.”

A number of Global Innovators from Expo 2020’s global innovation and partnership Expo Live cater to the healthcare sector, including ayzh in India, which manufactures and distributes low-cost, high-quality health products to women and provides health facilities in low-resource settings.

“In line with UAE’s active role in the fight against Covid-19, Expo Live is providing Dh3.7 million as part of its Emergency Relief Fund to support innovators facing immediate financial hardship because of the ongoing global pandemic,” added Al Hashimy.

Solutions to global issues

The legacy of Dubai Expo is not limited to innovations in healthcare in the pandemic-hit world. “Expo 2020 will bring the world together to seek solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. While we must tackle the impact of COVID-19, we are also facing a wealth of other issues, including climate change, equal access to the basic human rights of education, digitalisation and healthcare, and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Al Hashimy.

She said as the Expo coincides with nation’s golden jubilee, “the timing is crucial”. “It is an opportunity to look back on the fruitful path paved by the nation’s founding fathers, enabling us to achieve things that others felt impossible, enriched by the UAE’s deep-rooted history of bringing people together to encourage positive change. Expo 2020 will build on the nation’s extraordinary legacy,” she added.

“For six months from October 1 next year, we will welcome millions of visitors from around the world, plus more than 200 participants — including countries, companies, international organisations and educational institutions — gathering some of the world’s brightest, most inquisitive minds to help solve the aforementioned challenges.”

This will include themed weeks “that tackle key issues and enable us to discover new perspectives, challenge existing thinking, form new partnerships and ultimately help create a blueprint for our collective future that positively impacts people and the planet”. “In a spirit of innovation and optimism for the future, we will present new ideas for a better world, continuing the ambitious vision of the UAE and presenting Dubai as a world-class city of the future,” said the minister.

And the Expo site and its buildings will also be preserved as a legacy of innovations. The more than 130 buildings featuring smart sustainable technologies, including the Sustainability Pavilion, capable of generating 4GWh of energy from more than 1,050 solar panels on its canopy is just one example.

“After Expo 2020 closes its doors, the site will transform into District 2020, a blueprint for the human-centric, smart and sustainable cities of the future. With a mandate to support the UAE’s advance towards an innovation-driven economy, District 2020 will bolster regional industry and technology growth and house world-class innovation, educational, cultural and entertainment facilities,” said Al Hashimy.”

Expo site construction on track

Expo 2020 Dubai has achieved an advanced state of readiness on-site, with all permanent Expo-led construction completed in 2019, said Al Hashimy. “The Mobility Pavilion and Sustainability Pavilion are complete and their exhibitions installed, while the Expo Entry Portals were unveiled in February,” said the minister.

This year, work has focused on landscaping the Expo site, while international participants continue with the construction of their pavilions, and the Expo Metro station has also been inaugurated.

“The finishing touches to the plaza area and Public Realm will be added closer to the start of the mega-event, so they remain fresh for launch. With 10 months until Expo 2020 Dubai opens its doors, we are on track to host a once-in-a-lifetime experience on a world-class site that will showcase breakthrough design,” Al Hashimy said.

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