A look at the 'hidden treasure' that is the Pakistan Pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020

A look at the 'hidden treasure' that is the Pakistan Pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020

The pavilion showcases a 'rich tapestry' of the country's art, culture and tradition, curated by renowned artists and creatives.
06 Oct, 2021

There is a lot of hype about the Pakistan Pavilion at the Dubai Expo on social media and for good reason. While the colourful facade of the pavilion has been grabbing everyone's attention, the exhibition inside even better, showcasing the country's rich heritage of art, culture and traditions curated by a mix of renowned artists, designers, filmmakers and musicians.

People from around the world have flocked to Dubai to attend the Expo 2020 which opened on October 1 and will last till March 31, 2022, under the theme of 'Connecting Minds, Creating the Future'. It is the biggest event held in the region since the pandemic began. The expo hopes to display architectural marvels and technological innovations, following in the foot steps of historic World Expos that have been held in the last 170 years.

A total of 192 countries have participated in the Expo, including Pakistan, as it is an opportunity to showcase opportunities in tourism, commerce and investment. Pakistan's theme at the Expo is 'The Hidden Treasure', showcasing "our people, history, culture, places & economic potential" meant to "amaze the world".

The showcase is an amalgamation of various thematic exhibits, principally curated by artist and designer Noorjehan Bilgrami. "The narrative of the Pakistan Pavilion reflects the poetic way in which the past, present and future are woven together as a tapestry that reveals the rich and layered history, culture, people and traditions of this land, while also highlighting the immense potential and possibilities it holds for the future," Bilgrami said, according to the Expo website.

The Pakistan Pavilion's official social media handles give viewers a glimpse into Bilgrami's work at the Expo.

The pavilion's facade has been designed by artist Rashid Rana. The "hypnotic design" is meant to "represent the multifaceted sides of Pakistan, from seasons to culture".

Architect Shahid Abdulla also worked on the facade and his work was driven by purpose. "We have to change the image by saying the truth [about] what Pakistan is all about," he said.

Inside the Pavilion, visitors get to witness an intricate hand-drawn timeline, dating the history of our land all the way back to 7000 BC, up till 1947. The timeline has been created by artist Naveed Sadiq.

Awaiting the visitors is also an installation by artist Affan Baghpati "inspired by the minarets" in sacred spaces.

Filmmaker Jami has also contributed to the exhibition. Visitors can explore work by him and his team at Azad Films who have "captured the unique spirit of Pakistan’s sacred spaces at the many mosques, shrines, temples, gurudwaras and churches found across our country".

Music producer Rohail Hyatt, who helped bring Coke Studio Pakistan to life, created the official soundtrack for Pakistan's exhibition. "I was tasked with creating a soundtrack that depicted the country's traditional as well as contemporary sounds," he said on Instagram. "It was clear that we had not set out to make songs, but instead, wanted to create something rich, with various musical styles of Pakistan. Thus was born the idea of an inclusive and abundant soundtrack, featuring classical, folk, Qawali; showcasing the cultural heritage of our great country."

Here's Lala-e-Sehrai (Flower of the Desert) created by Rohail Hyatt for the pavilion.

Award-winning filmmaker, cinematographer and producer Jawad Sharif and his team "travelled all across Pakistan, from Tharparkar to Gilgit, to film the unique, indigenous craft traditions of Pakistan" for the Pakistan Pavilion at the Expo.

Twitter has been all praises for the Pakistan Pavilion as people express their excitement at what they've been able to witness so far. "The gorgeous Pakistan pavilion at Dubai Expo!" a user tweeted.

PPP Senator Sherry Rehman also shared her thoughts on the pavilion.

"Congratulations to the team led by Noorjehan Bilgrami responsible for curating the Pakistan pavilion at the Dubai Expo. The pavilion has been getting rave reviews from visitors all around the world," lawyer and activist Jibran Nasir posted on Twitter.

"[The] pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai brilliantly showcases the great beauty and diversity of Pakistan’s landscapes & people," tweeted British diplomat Iona Thomas.

The Pakistani curations look stunning enough for us to seriously consider taking a trip to Dubai just to see the pavilion. It is a brilliant glimpse into Pakistan's rich heritage and the work that has gone in is definitely worth the hype on social media.