Finland tops out ‘Snow Cape’ pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020

Commissioner General of Finland at Expo 2020 Dubai, Severi Keinälä, Finland’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Mika Lintilä and Finland’s Ambassador to the UAE, Marianne Nissilä signed on the last piece of the construction. (Supplied)
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Updated 12 February 2020

Finland tops out ‘Snow Cape’ pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020

  • Around 80-85% of the around 80-85 percent of the pavilion’s materials will be reused and recycled after the exhibition is over
  • Finland ranked as the world’s happiest country in the 2019 World Happiness Report

DUBAI: Finland revealed its Dubai Expo 2020 pavilion, named Snow Cape, during a recent ceremony at the site.

Finland’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Mika Lintilä, Commissioner General of Finland at Expo 2020 Dubai, Severi Keinälä, and Finland’s Ambassador to the UAE, Marianne Nissilä signed on the last piece of the construction.

The structure is located in the Mobility District, and around 80-85 percent of its materials will be reused and recycled after the exhibition is over.

“We want visitors to Snow Cape to immerse themselves in our deep connection to nature and sustainability. The values of happiness, circular economy and innovations are being showcased throughout the pavilion and exhibition design,” Keinälä said.

Finland ranked as the world’s happiest country in the 2019 World Happiness Report, produced by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network in partnership with the Ernesto Illy Foundation.

“Finnish happiness is based on the symbiosis of people, nature and technology. This deep connection is the origin of the quality of everyday Finnish life and the Finland pavilion communicates this happiness,” Keinälä said.

Snow Cape’s design was created by Finland-based JKMM Architects and aims to combine the local culture of the UAE and Finnish tradition.

“The pavilion was inspired by the white blanket of snow that covers the Finnish landscape every winter. The main entrance was designed to elicit thoughts of a traditional Arabic tent, seamlessly integrating features from both cultures,” Partner and Architect at JKMM Architects Teemu Kurkela said.

Kurkela explained that they had many options to pick from, such as forests to represent the Finnish nature, but decided to go with the snow cape.

“Since the climate here is very hot, lots of sun and sand and dessert. What is the extreme contrast to that? In that sense, it’s the winter and the snow,” the architect said.

JKMM also designed the Finnish pavilion, Kirnu, in Shanghai World Expo 2010, which won the first prize in the design competition.

As for how Finland’s participation will reflect on the relations with UAE and the region, the ambassador believes it will make the connections tighter.

“I think the fact that 100 Finnish companies decided to take part in Expo is the clearest sign ever about their interest to reach out to Dubai, to the UAE and to the wider region here,” Nissilä said.

The ambassador also hopes these companies use the exhibition as a platform to reinforce relations with partners and find new ones.

“I’m hoping that expo will bring the economic and trade cooperation to a totally new level, with new partnerships found and new deals made” Nissilä said.


Will sea, sand and social distancing make the Caribbean appealing?

Updated 18 min 27 sec ago

Will sea, sand and social distancing make the Caribbean appealing?

  • Officials want the new tourism guidelines to reassure travelers, without being off-putting

KINGSTON: A cluster of Caribbean islands are reopening this month for tourism, hoping to burnish their reputations as oases of tranquility after containing their COVID-19 outbreaks and implementing strict public health protocols.

The Caribbean, known for its palm-fringed beaches, turquoise water and colonial towns, is the most tourism-dependent region in the world. 

Antigua and Barbuda, the US Virgin Islands and St. Lucia are the first to reopen this week. Jamaica and Aruba are set to follow later in the month, with July target dates for the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic.

While other tourist hotspots such as Greece aim to limit arrivals from countries with high infection rates, the first flights the Caribbean is receiving are from the United States, which has the world’s highest number of reported cases.

But local tourism officials say they have little choice. Americans accounted for almost half the Caribbean’s 31.5 million visitors last year.

“What are we going to wait for? A vaccine? Shut down the country for two years?” Antigua and Barbuda’s Tourism Minister Charles Fernandez asked.

Instead, those islands reopening will conduct health screening, including temperature checks upon arrival, and require or encourage the use of face masks in public spaces.

They are divided over whether to test — as recommended by the Caribbean Public Health Agency — because of cost, reliability and availability concerns. Without testing, asymptomatic visitors could be a risk.

Antigua and Barbuda will do a rapid coronavirus test of visitors upon arrival, said Fernandez. 

St. Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet said it would require a certificate for a negative coronavirus test conducted up to 48 hours before departure.

It remains unclear if this would work, given tests are not widely available on demand in the US.

Concerns remain over reopenings in countries that do not require testing of arrivals, such as Jamaica.

“People should object, as should anyone who has done what they have done to flatten the curve of new cases,” said civil rights advocate Carol Narcisse, noting Jamaica has warned of a likely new rise in cases.

“Whose interest is the government really serving here?“

The coronavirus era has uprooted Caribbean carnival celebrations, nights out clubbing and resort buffets.

Still, the tourism industry hopes the mere appeal of sun, sea and the outdoors will suffice.

“Post-coronavirus, people want to get outside,” said Marc Melville, the head of Jamaica-based Chukka Tours.

Caribbean nations, which were quick to shut their borders and impose strict lockdowns as the pandemic spread, hope to market themselves as safe destinations. Antigua and Barbuda and the US Virgin Islands have respectively just one and two reported cases, officials said. St. Lucia has none.

Officials want the new tourism guidelines to reassure travelers, without being off-putting. Measures include sanitizing surfaces and social distancing in hotels, restaurants, tour operators and taxis.

Islands such as St. Lucia will pace their reopenings, keeping tourist sites closed in a first phase and allowing seated restaurant service only at resorts.

On his blog “One Mile at a Time,” travel writer Ben Schlappig wrote St. Lucia’s plan would make him feel safe: “The question becomes whether a visit would be any fun with all of these restrictions.”