Showcasing American Culture on the World Stage

NEH contributes to Expo 2020 Dubai

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NEH is committed to building strong international cultural relationships. In November, Senior Deputy Chairman Carlos Díaz-Rosillo traveled to Dubai, a city in the United Arab Emirates, for the handover ceremony of the U.S. pavilion at Expo 2020. Díaz-Rosillo has led NEH’s efforts to contribute cultural programming at the U.S. pavilion, following the signing of an interagency agreement between NEH and the State Department.

Dignitaries touring the interior of the American pavilion at Dubai Expo
Photo caption

A replica of Lady Liberty’s torch takes center stage as officials tour the interior of the U.S. pavilion. Carlos Díaz-Rosillo and Marie Royce listen intently to comments from Thinkwell, Inc.’s creative director Peter Ford. 

—Courtesy State Department

Group of dignitaries on the exterior of the American pavilion at Dubai Expo
Photo caption

Social distancing for a photo op in front of the U.S. pavilion are, from left, Marc Carlson, Ulrich Brechbühl, and James A. Core, all of the State Department, Marie Royce, Philip Frayne, Expo 2020 Dubai Director General Reem al-Hashimy, Carlos Díaz-Rosillo, Caroline Casagrande, Ambassador Rakolta, and Matthew K. Asada. 

—Courtesy State Department

This World Expo, themed Connecting Minds, Creating the Future,” will be the first hosted by a Middle East nation and features the subthemes sustainability, mobility, and opportunity. Originally scheduled to open in the fall of 2020, it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is now rescheduled to open in the fall of 2021.

For the United States, which recently brokered the Abraham Accords establishing relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, the expo represents an opportunity to highlight public diplomacy successes and foster a more positive understanding of our nation. NEH efforts will help promote the multifaceted nature of American society and culture.

The United Arab Emirates has a robust enthusiasm for cultural connections, famously opening an Abu Dhabi branch of the Louvre in 2017, and is in the process of creating an Abu Dhabi branch of the Guggenheim. Díaz-Rosillo met with the leaders of these museums to discuss the potential for new cultural partnerships to benefit our two nations.

NEH is a content agency, whose main purpose is to drive the promotion of culture and ideas,” said Díaz-Rosillo, who hopes American programming at the expo will show off the marvels of American society and democracy, alongside technological advancements such as the SpaceX Falcon 9, a replica of which is set to greet visitors to the U.S. pavilion.

“Our participation in the expo will allow our country to showcase the richness of our culture and values, and promote a better understanding of the United States to help people see it as the force for good that it is.”

Through its participation, NEH will help ensure that the U.S. pavilion incorporates cultural content into its programming and exhibits as well as through its presentations. NEH also plans to invite contributors of public programming to help tell the American story at the expo.

Known in the United States as the World’s Fair, the World Expo has long been a premier venue for nations promoting themselves on the international stage as business partners, sites of investment, and tourist destinations.

A striking number of technological and architectural innovations have made their debuts at the World’s Fair. Autonomous cars, jet packs, and the zipper are just a few of the many futuristic devices that were presented alongside skyline-changing wonders such as the Eiffel Tower and the Space Needle. The first expo, known as the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, was held in Londons Crystal Palace in 1851.

“This partnership with the State Department is a great opportunity to bolster American global leadership and reaffirm American leadership in the realm of international cultural diplomacy,” said Díaz-Rosillo. “I look forward to continued success from fruitful partnerships that deepen cultural understanding and cooperation with our friends and allies.”