Antigua and Barbuda marks National Day with dance, music, business prospects at Expo 2020 Dubai

DUBAI, Antigua and Barbuda, the twin-island nation of 365 beaches, celebrated its Expo 2020 Dubai National Day today (1 November), which featured a flag-raising ceremony at Al Wasl Plaza, a colourful cultural performance and a topically varied business conference.

Henry Charles Fernandez, Minister of Tourism and Investment of Antigua and Barbuda, accompanied by Gilbert Boustany, Commissioner General of Antigua and Barbuda at Expo 2020, and other dignitaries were welcomed by Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, accompanied by Najeeb Al-Ali, Executive Director, Commissioner General Office, Expo 2020 Dubai.

Proudly celebrating the country’s Ruby Anniversary (40 years) of political independence, Fernandez said it was an honour to be sharing the momentous occasion with each and every person at Expo 2020, with the occasion made even more meaningful in Dubai, a nation built on the principles of inclusion.

Fernandez said: “Dubai’s transformation to a highly efficient metropolis, created with such elegance and intricacy, highlights the sophistication of the visionary leadership of Dubai.

“To have the capacity to host such a global event on the fringe of one of the worst pandemics in modern history is verification of the resilience and progressive leadership the UAE is fortunate to have. Expo 2020 Dubai signals a global call for partnerships and support. This unparalleled Expo has given small island developing states – [such as] Antigua and Barbuda – the opportunity for business and trade on a global scale. This Expo will allow for extensive partnerships to be forged and for the renewal of diplomatic friendships as we navigate our way out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Antigua and Barbuda continues to enjoy strong and friendly diplomatic relations with the UAE, which is felt in energy, leisure travel, residency and economic investments. The UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund, for example, has allowed for the complete transformation of Barbuda to green energy with the construction of a hurricane-resistant clean-energy plan. This has helped our twin-island nation recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Irma in 2017. Our recovery is still well underway, and our participation in this expansive Expo is a strident reminder that we are open for business.

“We will have one the largest cruise port projects in the Caribbean by the end of 2021. This has expanded our tourism product by doubling our travel markets, with record arrivals in the third quarter of 2021. We’ve expanded our cargo port with an amazing USD 100 million redevelopment – to be completed within the next six months. We will have the most versatile, modern and competitive port in the entire Caribbean, the only eastern Caribbean port that can berth five major cruise ships and three major container ships within the same harbour simultaneously.

“We’ve expanded our educational sector, with three universities on the island and a landed campus of the University of the West Indies; it’s important to note the University of the West Indies ranks in the top 1.5 per cent of the world’s universities.”

“We’ve expanded our innovative industry with the opening of the Antigua and Barbuda Science Innovation Park, one of the first United Nations office for the offices for the Project Services Global Innovation Centre; and we have expanded our maritime agreements with the sustainable framework of developing the blue economy.”

Najeeb Al-Ali, said: “It’s a pleasure to be with you today to celebrate the National Day of Antigua and Barbuda. We would like to extend our gratitude to Commissioner General, Gilbert Boustany, and his team for Antigua and Barbuda’s meaningful participation in this Expo.

“Antigua and Barbuda has been a shining example in the region of how a small island nation with a passion for preserving the environment can work with local and international organisations towards a more sustainable future, and as the UAE spearheads sustainability-focused projects both in the Caribbean region and around the world, we look forward to working closely with you to explore further opportunities for cooperation.”

“The surge of investment opportunities across Antigua and Barbuda in the real estate and tourism sectors is part of the economic success story on display at the Antigua and Barbuda Pavilion. Famed for its pristine beaches, turquoise seas and craggy coastlines, Antigua is striving to become the economic powerhouse of the Caribbean. As such, it’s using its presence at Expo as the perfect time to confirm its commitment to welcoming and empowering global citizens and investors alike by leveraging international relations.”

Antigua and Barbuda’s national day celebrations included ‘Wadadli’, a 20-minute cultural presentation that explores the country music, dance and heritage. The performance highlighted the origins of Antigua and Barbuda’s Afro-European percussive steel band rhythms, the sounds of the 20th-century musical phenomenon, the steelpan, the melodies and poetry of the country’s greatest calypsonians and soca artistes, as well as their vibrant movements.

A business conference titled ‘Antigua and Barbuda: Where Sustainable Development Meets a Rich History and Culture’ spotlighted the country’s reputation as one of the Caribbean’s most sought-after destinations, not only for tourism but also for high-level business and investment.

Located in the Mobility District, the Antigua and Barbuda Pavilion showcases the country as a major regional air transportation and shipping hub, highlights its rich cultural heritage and key efforts towards the sustainability movement through eye-opening immersive experiences.

National and Honour Days at Expo 2020 Dubai are moments to celebrate each of our 200-plus International Participants, shining a light on their culture and achievements and showcasing their pavilions and programming.

Running until 31 March 2022, Expo 2020 has invited visitors from across the planet to join the making of a new world in a six-month celebration of human creativity, innovation, progress and culture.

Source: Emirates News Agency

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