King Philippe and Queen Mathilde visited the Belgian pavilion at the World Expo in Dubai during an official trip to the Middle East. 5 February was the day of our country's national holiday at the Expo site. It was an opportunity to put the spotlight on the assets that Wallonia is bringing to this Expo with regard to the mobility of the future. The main focus was on research and innovation in the space domain, but also the Liège Trilogiport, a key logistics platform in Europe thanks to its multimodal platforms (rail, water, air).
The theme of the World Expo, which opened on 1 October and will close on 31 March, is "Connecting Minds, Creating the Future". Belgium decided to focus its design on the sub-theme of the mobility of the future.
The Walloon region is showcasing its assets in terms of river mobility. Visitors can discover the multimodal platform of the Liège trilogiport through a quiz in the form of a video game. This animation was designed in collaboration with the Logistics in Wallonia competitiveness cluster and the Liège Port Authority. Belgium's largest inland port is also Europe's third largest river port (21 million tons of goods in 2019). Ideally located in the heart of Europe and close to Liège cargo airport, the Trilogiport offers three accesses to the sea (Antwerp, Rotterdam and Dunkirk), three modes of transport (water, rail, road) and three cross-border markets (France, Netherlands, Germany). The direct presence, on the same site, of the multimodal infrastructure of the terminal and logistics zones housing the latest generation of warehouses represents a major asset in attracting large distribution centres on a European scale.
At Expo Dubai, the region is also showcasing its excellence in space. Visitors of all ages can discover the Euro Space Center, the only space theme park in Europe. They then leave Earth for an immersive journey to Mars. A 360° virtual reality projection produced by Vigo Universal immerses visitors in the experience of life on the Red Planet.
The Namur-based company has been creating virtual reality content for eight years and opened its own centre at the Pôle Image in Liège last year. The HollloH centre is the largest virtual reality centre in Europe, a real virtual reality theme park with a play area of over 1,000 m². Players are immersed in a futuristic universe, wearing a headset with an integrated screen. A dedicated space allows professionals to discover the latest technological innovations. Hollloh is also home to the first permanent VR cinema in Belgium, an interactive bar, and more.
His Majesty Prince Philippe was delighted that Expo Dubai, the first major event on the international scene since the pandemic, is showcasing our country. Our pavilion, nicknamed the Green Arch and designed by architect Vincent Callebaut from La Louvière, was "designed to be a meeting place. It symbolises our common vocation to build bridges between cultures, promote dialogue and encourage innovation," he said.
His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan, the Emirati Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence and the General Commissioner of Expo Dubai, was also present and praised the relations between our two countries in several key sectors such as logistics, life sciences and tourism. "Belgium's participation in the Expo demonstrates to the world its openness to partnerships, especially as a country that is constantly innovating in sustainable development and the smart mobility systems of the future." Belgium, smart and green, the message has been received!