Expo 2020 Dubai is showcasing innovations across its themes of opportunity, mobility and sustainability. Countries from across the world are taking part and highlighting their wider economic development. The following will spotlight Brazil and Colombia.
In terms of the financial services industry and specifically fintech and wider digital, how is Expo 2020 Dubai spotlighting countries such as Colombia and Brazil? The first Expo or world’s fair in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) is making headlines and bringing people from across the world to learn more about opportunity, mobility and sustainability.
By day, a wide, minimalistic, clear, cube-shaped space. At night, the venue comes to life with projected Brazilian landscapes.
Situated within the Expo’s Sustainability District, the pavilion of Brazil brings the Amazon basin to the Dubai desert. One of the main themes of the pavilion is ‘Together for Sustainable Development’ which communicates the conservation endeavours of the country and their ongoing commitment to the environment and climate change mitigation.
Under the organisation of Apex-Brazil, the designers, JPG.ARQ, MMBB Arquitetos, and Ben-Avid, have created a space that connects visitors to the wild biodiversity of Brazil. Their design is certainly striking, with the 4,000m² space being encased by a huge cage of gleaming white steel, which protects the inner translucent membrane of the structure on all four sides.
When we’ve visited the interiors of other pavilions at the Expo, what we saw in terms of their structural layout comprised of split floors amongst interconnecting rooms and channels, yet the interior of Brazil’s pavilion comes as a startling contrast.
The large open space of the pavilion makes use of 140 giant projectors to evoke a sensory experience of Brazil’s rainforests, rivers, urban centres, food and singular culture, and their projection, which streams across all four sides of the cubic pavilion, is accompanied by a series of lifelike sounds and aromas that bring the pavilion to life.
The entirety of the pavilion’s floor is consumed by a blade of water, a feature inspired by the Amazon’s Negro River. Emphasising the pavilion’s central theme of sustainability, the water in this pool is sourced and replenished by harvesting rainwater, back-flushing filters, and the condensation collected from the space’s air-conditioning system.
Speaking at Brazil’s National Day celebrations at the Expo, which took place in November, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Commissioner-General of Expo 2020 Dubai said: “Brazil’s pavilion within the Sustainability district brings to us a modern recreation of the Amazon basin, with all the sights, sounds and scents of the country’s riverside.
“With rather unique architecture, the pavilion represents a stilt house, commonly found along the banks of the Amazon, and is built around a walkable water pool, evoking the waters of Brazil here in Dubai and offering an immersive experience and a unique journey through Brazil’s abundant opportunities. As such, Brazil’s participation addresses key topics of mutual interest, including biodiversity, agriculture, sustainable cities, the green economy, resource efficiency and more as a means to achieve future growth and development.”
When looking further afield into the wider ecosystem of Brazil, it appears very much that the country’s fintech scene is booming, with many new entrants stepping forward to bolster LATAM’s payments infrastructure. The open payments gateway Volt recently announced its expansion of open banking to Brazil following a period of rapid growth for the fintech company, whilst the evolution of Agi is set to drastically transform how ordinary Brazilians interact with banking and non-banking services; significantly closing the gap on the country’s rate of financial inclusion.
Towering over the Opportunity plaza’s main gate, architect Pacheco Architecture Studio has created a space that collides a white geometric steel exterior with dense, green vegetation; interlocked together by the vast amount of light that’s able to enter the space.
Visitors – which totalled 50,000 during the pavilion’s opening debut – are taken on a journey through the different regions of the country; the Andean region, the Amazon, and the Orinoco region, and then finally the coasts, the Pacific and the Atlantic coasts. These are maintained across the pavilion’s expansive three-floors, and the space has very much been designed to give visitors a holistic representation of the country’s economic and cultural identity.
The pavilion celebrates this identity and includes a programme of insightful workshops centred around familiar and important Colombian exports, like emeralds, flowers and coffee. The roof of the building is home to the pavilion’s most interactive space, where visitors can engage with a retinue of salsa classes, music classes and craft workshops.
Aside from the intricate facade and beautiful surroundings of the pavilion, what’s most admirable about its layout and conception is that it offers visitors vast amounts of a little bit of everything. Colombia continues to push a central agenda around the vibrancy of its unique culture and its continued commitment to sustainability, and it’s represented itself in the best way possible through its participation at Expo 2020.
The arrival of Colombia has also signalled the strengthening relationship between the South American country and the UAE. “Dubai is a milestone in world history and a new opportunity for economic growth and the recovery of the global trade sector after its stagnation during a pandemic, and Expo 2020 Dubai offers an opportunity to solve many of the problems facing the world,” said Colombian President Ivan Duque Marquez.
“Dubai is very important to us because of the long and long-standing relationship between us and the great investment opportunities on both sides. In addition, Colombia has received a lot of support from Dubai and the UAE in a number of areas such as entrepreneurship and youth development. I am optimistic about the future, which offers many promising opportunities for fruitful cooperation between the parties.”
The Colombia pavilion has been a key player at the Expo, and aside from its National Day celebrations, the country has also participated in a variety of events, including ‘Protect the Jaguar’ which addresses the vulnerability of South America’s largest cat and the actions that need to be taken in order to protect its future. The country also showcased its cultural fashion, which was presented at the Expo through its Catch Colombian fashion week in November, highlighting the importance of the country’s significant textile trade.
When looking further into its fintech ecosystem, like many LATAM countries, Colombia is investing in its payments infrastructure in a move hoped to better the country’s rate of financial inclusion. In September, TerraPay, a payments infrastructure company announced its partnership with MOVii, a mobile wallet service that will result in both banked and unbanked Colombians completing financial transactions from the convenience of their mobile phone.