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As you enter the India pavilion at the Dubai Expo 2020, you can see miniature models of the Ram Mandir to be built at Ayodhya and the under-construction Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi, the first such in the city.

Adjacent to the display of its spiritual heritage sits the booth showcasing India’s progress in space odyssey.

On two separate floors, the pavilion showcases India’s emerging sectors, achievements of ministries, while the Gujarat government completely occupies the state pavilion. One floor is devoted to India’s art, dance, and culture with gigantic LCD screens displaying the country’s cultural heritage. In the industry pavilion, only a handful companies are participating to connect with new customers and explore new business opportunities.

“It is a great opportunity to showcase emerging new India to visitors who are coming from all over the world. Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally gave us ideas and a lot of guidance on how to showcase India as a modern vibrant technology driven international economy," trade minister Piyush Goyal, who inaugurated the India pavilion on Friday, told reporters.

India’s outreach has become all the more imperative with the country starting to negotiate a comprehensive trade deal with the UAE last month. “The UAE is the gateway to all of Africa and many other parts of the world. The UAE also has a huge Indian diaspora and a huge market in products such as textiles, jems and jewellery, leather footwear, and processed food products, all of which are labour oriented and give jobs to Indians. They will provide economic opportunities to startups. It will be a partnership that will be win-win for both countries," Goyal said.

With the world learning to live with covid and its variants, more than 190 countries are participating at the Dubai Expo 2020, which will run for six months from 1 October to 31 March 2022. Though delayed by a year because of the pandemic, the Expo gives a sense of business-as-usual with pavilions open for businesses and general audience, though with strict covid safety protocols.

The UAE has allowed India to build a permanent pavilion over 40,000 sq. ft, a privilege given to a handful friendly countries.

So will it be a Pragati Maidan in the heart of Dubai? “Yes, somewhat like that. Pragati Maidan is also getting a makeover, It will be one of the finest convention centres anywhere in the world," Goyal said.

The structure has been covered with a dynamic façade consisting of 600 individual kinetic panels capable of simulation signifying “India on the move". The majestic external façade will display 75 stories across the next 26 weeks. Each week, the patterns will take the shape of three stories of 25 sub themes. The façade will create different moving patterns during the day to celebrate 75 years of India’s independence. In the evening, the façade will turn vibrant with light and sound shows.

Dikshu C. Kukreja, managing principal architect of C.P. Kukreja Architects, who designed India’s pavilion, said he developed 82 designs. The final design was selected after consultations with government officials to arrive at a design for the façade that is kinetic and can keep rotating to showcase India’s complex but unique stories.

“We have used recycled aluminium metal boxes for the façade. We also have given a lot of focus on sustainability and have made a design that is as energy efficient as possible. In Dubai, you see a lot of glass buildings. I thought that is not the solution for this kind of a hot and humid climate. That’s why we have created an environment-friendly design that will not have such high demand of energy," he said.

The writer was in Dubai at the invitation of industry body Ficci.

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