DUBAI: Crowds thronged outside Afghanistan’s pavilion at Expo 2020 in Dubai on Saturday — which was a mystery, because the pavilion remained shuttered despite the opening of the world fair to visitors the previous day.
The mystery was solved by the presence of a sign with a distinctive white and yellow logo pointing visitors in the direction of Albaik, the Saudi fried chicken chain that has an outlet in the same building.
“Afghanistan? They have a pavilion? No, we’re here for Albaik,” visitor Michael Higgins, an Irish expatriate, told Arab News. “Their spicy chicken is the best in the city.”
While Albaik is a household name in Saudi Arabia, with more than 120 branches, it is a relative novelty in the UAE, where the first outlet opened in Dubai Mall only in June.
Afghanistan is one of nearly 200 nations participating in the six-month Expo, but the country’s pavilion was planned by the government that was driven from power by the Taliban last month, and remains incomplete and closed to visitors. A security guard at the building said they had not seen any one work there in weeks.