Kuwait sets sail for Expo 2015

MILAN-As preparations for Expo 2015 gain speed, Kuwait unveils its €20mln project designed to showcase the richness of its resources and promote sustainable development.

 Explaining the difficulties of cultivation in a country whose landscape is dominated by desert, the exhibit is meant to demonstrate how sustainable use of energy sources and application of new technological solutions can turn arid land into a habitable place where dynamic societies can grow.

 At a press conference held at the Hotel Principe di Savoia in Milan Thursday morning, the representatives of Kuwait, Consul General Abdulnaser Bukhadour and General Commissioner for Milan Expo 2015 Salah Mansour Al-Mubaraki, together with Nussli Italia General Director Emanuele Rossetti and Nussli project manager Harald Dosch, outlined the key ideas behind Kuwait’s participation in the world exhibition, intended to reflect the strength of its relations with Italy, but also, being the first instance of Kuwait’s involvement in an international event of such importance and scale, to demonstrate the interest of its political leadership in ecological and humanitarian causes.

 “We are looking forwards to take part in the great event of Milan EXPO 2015”, Kuwait's General Commissioner said. “The availability of food, sustainably produced and accessible in sufficient quantities to all, is a challenge that involves the whole of humanity and Kuwait intends to play its part in providing ideas and solutions in line with the ideals set by this great Universal Exposition.”

 During his speech, General Commissioner emphasised the role of research funded by the state of Kuwait to explore new possibilities of obtaining drinking water through its desalination. Due to its dry climate with only occasional rainfall, and no natural sources of fresh water, Kuwait has been relying on alternative methods to overcome the problem, taking advantage of its proximity to the sea and turning the highly saline waters of the Arabian Gulf into the precious resource, used in agriculture in hydroponic farming, and distributed in other countries in humanitarian projects. “It is thanks to desalination that I can drink this water today”, said General Commissioner pointing towards the water bottle in front of him, to an enthusiastic applause from the audience.

 The architectural concept of the pavilion, intended to represent the mix of cultural tradition and scientific modernity characteristic of contemporary Kuwaiti society, places the theme of EXPO 2015, “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” within a very particular context, showcasing the specificities of Kuwait’s landscape and climate, and telling the story of a desert turned into a fertile land thanks to “a miracle of water.”

 “First of all, we needed to align the concept with the theme of Expo”, explained Director Emanuele Rossetti. At the same time, the project had to convey what Signor Rossetti referred to as “kuwaitiness”: the essence of what it means to live in a country where nature constantly challenges its inhabitants. “Energy and food are very closely linked in Kuwait”, he explained. “Solar energy is used to desalinate water, which is then used in agriculture.”

 To illustrate this interdependence between Kuwait’s natural resources, and how modern technologies allow for their sustainable exploitation, the designer of the pavilion, architect Italo Rota, proposes a narrative structure composed of three consecutive elements: the presentation of Kuwait’s territory and its unfavourable weather conditions, a look at the technological and educational solutions which are reshaping that environment, and finally an encounter with “the warm hospitality and cultural wealth of Kuwaiti society.”

 A short video presentation which followed the speeches showed a structure of impressive dimensions, modelled on the profile of sails of the traditional Kuwaiti ‘Dhow’ boats, still used in the Arabian Gulf, and, in its posterior part, emulating the appearance of greenhouses and hydroponic agricultural systems of Kuwait. Inside, visitors will be invited to follow an interactive itinerary, including such elements as a “desert dome”, explaining the characteristics of its distinctive microclimate and the changing of the seasons, a multimedia room showing the rebirth of nature after a rainfall, and a “wall of donations”, an area where humanitarian projects financed by Kuwait, exceeding 15 billion dollars, will be presented. The final stop on the itinerary will be a Kuwaiti souk, a market where visitors will have an opportunity to get a taste of Kuwaiti hospitality and cuisine.

 The pavilion, designed to take up 2.790 square metres, will occupy a centrally situated lot among the leading developed countries of the world, such as the United States and Germany, in recognition of Kuwait’s contribution to mankind.

 The execution of the ambitious project, scheduled to begin in June 2014, was entrusted to Nussli Italia, a company based in Turin specialising in supplying temporary structures for cultural and sport events. Among their recent projects was the set-up realisation for the exhibits organised for the celebrations of the 150thAnniversary of the Unifications of Italy, and the multimedia itinerary design of the new Juventus Stadium.

 Working with a client from outside Europe is a new experience for the company, admitted Nussli project manager Harald Dosch, however, the intercultural cooperation has been going very smoothly, and they are “very optimistic.”

Pictured at the table, left to right: Harald Dosch, Salah Mansour Al-Mubaraki, Abdulnaser Bukhadour, and Emanuele Rossetti
Entrance: Desert Dome