By Bernd Debusmann Jr
UAE's ambassador in Washington Yousef Al Otaiba said the UAE had to step in to help fund the US pavilion
Dubai and the UAE could not expect a successful Expo 2020 Dubai without the participation of the United States, according to the UAE’s ambassador in Washington DC, Yousef Al Otaiba.
For months, the USA’s participation in the Expo was in doubt due to regulations that forbid the State Department and other government entities from providing funding for capital expenditures or operational expenses associated with US pavilions or exhibits at world expos.
Despite the efforts of the State Department and US lawmakers – who introduced a motion requesting that the government waive those regulations and provide emergency funding for the event – the US was unable to secure the funding.
Additional efforts to raise money from the private sector proved equally unsuccessful.
In an exclusive interview with Arabian Business at the UAE’s embassy in Washington DC, Al Otaiba said that for the UAE, having an Expo without the United States was not an option.
“We came to the conclusion for you can’t have a successful Expo without the United States,” he said. “Due to politics, to be honest, the United States was not able to come on time, so we had to step in and help.
“That’s how important the relationship [between the US and UAE] is. You can’t have something of this scale without the United States.”
In mid-January, the State Department announced that “the US pavilion is made possible by the generosity of the Emirati government in recognition of the strong partnership between the United States and the United Arab Emirates.”
Although Al Otaiba did not reveal the scale of the UAE’s contribution to the US pavilion, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had earlier given a figure of $60 million needed to prepare for pavilion for the six-month long event.
It remains unclear if previous plans for the US pavilion – which were centred around the theme of mobility – will remain in place going forward.
In a statement announcing the UAE’s funding assistance, the State Department said only that Expo will provide the US private sector “a golden opportunity to showcase its creativity and innovation, as well as pursue business partnerships and new markets with corporate leaders from around the world.”
“The Department is dedicated to developing an exciting US pavilion at Expo 2020 with an exhibition that engages visitors from around the world to learn more about the United States and the freedom that enables success and innovation,” the statement added.