INTERVIEW OF MAYA TISSAFI,

Ambassador of Switzerland to the U.A.E.
INTERVIEW H.E MAYA TISSAFI

2020 World Expo

Madame Magazine – Since 1851 your country has been participating in the Universal Exhibition. Your loyalty to the event has been constant ever since. In becoming the first country to sign its official participation to Expo 2020 in April 2016, have you wished to support the first world exhibition organized in an Arab, Muslim country?

Maya Tissafi – Switzerland has traditionally attached great importance to universal exhibitions. These events represent an exceptional opportunity to showcase what we have to offer

as a country and generally revolve around a positive theme that we can fully endorse. This remains true for Expo 2020 which we consider to be an event of regional significance. We wanted to go ahead with the announcement of our participation as rapidly as possible to underline our support to the organizers and to a part of the world that is at the center of Swiss foreign policy. Moreover, we regard the Expo 2020 as a possibility to present the many commonalities between Switzerland and the UAE – both countries have a rich cultural heritage that builds a strong foundation for their modern societies.

MM – The last Universal Exhibition’s theme was “Feeding the planet, Energy for life” in Milan, in 2015. The Swiss pavilion* then invited visitors to acknowledge the con-sequences of (over)consumption. For Expo 2020 what message do you wish to convey?
*1st Prize awarded by Exhibitor magazine for Best Interpretation of the Theme in 2015.

MT – For this specific experience, we chose to have our visitors embark on a journey that starts with Switzerland’s past and ends with what makes our modern-day country so unique. Although Switzerland is forward-looking and known for its visionary spirit as well as its innovative technology, we are very much aware of our traditions and use them as the starting point for any new devel-opment. Through our journey at Expo 2020, we want our visitors to consider their own heritages and to reflect on how opportunities can grow from building on what makes a culture great in the first place. I think that this idea of combining tradition and innovation is shared with many countries in the region and is a very relatable concept for many people from all around the world.

In addition, we want the pavilion to promote the qualities that our country is generally known for: Switzerland is an open and diverse country that is considered to be a reliable partner all around the world. We offer high-quality products and services, have an excellent and diversified education system and are an attractive destination for tourists as well as a stable location for investors. All these values are portrayed whenever we are present with an official representation and will be in-corporated into the Swiss pavilion too.

 

MM       – The Council of States has approved a budget of 14.84 million Swiss francs (AED 57.14 million) allocated to the creation of the Swiss pavilion, 50% of which will be financed by private companies. What is the current status of the construction of the “Belles Vues” project won by OOS architecture firm, in collaboration with Bellprat Partner et Lorenz Eugster, and what does it represent?

MT – We will present ourselves with an iconic cubical structure that is inspired by the Bedouin tents. This build will combine fixed elements with light textile arrangements and will be quite simple to install and dissemble. The Swiss pavilion was conceived as a temporary structure, which can be built in the most sustainable way possible.

The construction is foreseen to begin in the first half of 2019.

MM – What will be the importance of technology in the Swiss pavilion? Are you planning to present virtual and augmented reality to provide your visitors with a unique experience?

MT – Technology is obviously always a very important part of Swiss pavilions and we will employ cutting-edge methods to make this an incredible experience for all visitors. At previous Expos, we have successfully differentiated ourselves through interactive content that the visitors could partici-pate in. This time the visitors will go on a “hike”, which is a typically Swiss activity and will consist of three parts. Each of these parts utilizes different techniques to transport the visitors into a fasci-nating world of its own: In the first part, visitors will participate in shaping their surroundings through optical illusions, in the second part, we will appeal to their emotions through a sensory experience, and in the last part, we will encourage people to connect in a way that transcends time and space. Prepare yourselves to be fully immersed and engaged!

MM – Besides the “Belles Vues” project, the Swiss pavilion premises will host a restaurant, a shop and temporary exhibitionshighlighting the different regions and their know-how. Will this hub also be used to illustrating other aspects of your country like its commitment to the promotion of peace, its humanitarian dimension or the attachment to traditions often shown by the Swiss?

MT – The humanitarian tradition and our engagement for peace are part of the rich and diverse heritage that Switzerland offers. As such, they will be an integral part of the whole experience and will be central to workshops, presentations and other events that will take place in the Swiss pavillion during the six months of Expo. It is still a little early to reveal specific details about the pavilion’s content and program, but I can assure you that we will cover a broad range of fascinating topics. Some of these topics will be familiar, but you can expect a lot of surprises as well.