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Expo Probes Humanity’s Need to Connect, Explore and Discover


Probing humanity’s need to connect, explore and discover in a changing world, Expo gathers global travel and connectivity experts

February 21, 2021, 4:56 am

Digital connectivity and the changing nature of travel and tourism in the reality of the pandemic were just some of the key themes explored by travel experts, International Participants, and Official Partners, including Emirates and Etisalat, as Expo 2020 Dubai continued its pre-event program.

 Covering key sectors such as mobility, transport, and logistics, governance, education, and travel, Expo Talks: Travel and Connectivity – a series of virtual panel discussions and talks held on 16 February – also examined artificial intelligence and data privacy.

The event – now available on demand – provided a glimpse of how Expo 2020 will bring to life the theme of travel and connectivity when it opens in October, and featured keynote remarks from Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General, Expo 2020 Dubai; Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates Airline; and Eng. Hatem Dowidar, CEO of Etisalat Group.

Emirates hosted two ‘fireside chats’, with the first focusing on the evolution of on-board connectivity and what this could look like in the future. The second explored how the airline is creating and nurturing an ecosystem for innovation in travel and aviation in Dubai, and whether COVID-19 has influenced or expedited innovation in this space.

Another session, featuring Her Excellency Kersti Kaljulaid, President of Estonia, explored digital services and solutions in the new reality of COVID-19, while Bhutan and Portugal were among a number of International Participants who delved into the future of sustainable tourism. In parallel, many International Participants also hosted talks on their own channels.

HE Reem Al Hashimy said: “What we have endured in the past 12 months has been incredibly challenging. The necessary physical restrictions required to address the global pandemic have challenged us because they have undone what we considered inviolable: our right to move, explore and discover.

“However, we have also witnessed an incredible era for innovation and imagination – exemplified by the success of the Hope Probe, the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission. The visionaries of the travel, tourism, and logistics sectors are continuing to integrate newer technologies and methodologies, so we might indulge our human need to connect, while simultaneously reinforcing our shared commitment to a cleaner, safer, healthier future for everyone.”

Sir Tim Clark, President, Emirates Airline, said: “Humans are curious creatures, and we are social creatures. Travel and Connectivity provide us with the means to exchange goods and ideas, to gather knowledge, to thrive as individuals, and to function as an interdependent global society.

“If we didn’t have the ability to interact with others, whether, through physical mobility or technological means, we wouldn’t have been able to progress or prosper. Travel and Connectivity are vital for the advancement of economies and societies.”

Eng. Hatem Dowidar, CEO, Etisalat Group, said: “Over recent years there has been an increased convergence between Travel and Connectivity, where technology has really improved the traveling experience. Through great connectivity, we are able to instantaneously share our travel experiences across numerous applications and platforms, with people also able to enjoy these experiences virtually – especially in the UAE, home to the fastest mobile network in the world, a result of years of achievements by Etisalat to build one of the most advanced networks in the region and globally.”

Travel and Connectivity were the seventh in a series of 10 thematic talks – launched in October 2020 with Space – bringing together influential policymakers, thought-leaders, Expo participants, and the public to help shape the thought-provoking content and conversations taking place during Expo 2020.

Running from 1 October 2021 until 31 March 2022, Expo 2020 will seek collaborative solutions to the world’s most pressing issues – including weeks dedicated to the Global Goals, Climate and Biodiversity, Knowledge and Learning, and Water – to help shape a better, more sustainable future for all.

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