Expo 2020 is The UAE's coming out party. As if the world doesn't already know Dubai and the Emirates are a New World powerhouse of ideas and future-think. Dubai just opened a Museum of the Future here, let that sink in before you read further, please.
The World Expo happens every 5 years. It's an attempt to bring all the nations of the world together around themes of Global Challenges, progress and cooperation. I stumbled upon the Expo in 2016 while in Milan on vacation, it was a mind expanding day which held my attention for the last 6 years. It was, like seeing into the future in many respects. The American Pavillon in Milan greeted the world with a massive jumbotron of President Obama's face - in very Orwellian style - his voice was telling the world "America uses drones for GOOD". I could only imagine that this was an attempt to counter balance criticism and fear of our military drone program. It seemed at the time to be cheap propaganda to me... but the lines were long and the 2016 World was very interested in US... A.
The vertical farm on the exterior of the USA Pavillon in 2016 moved with the sun, and the message went on to state that our farming drones were monitoring fields, planting seeds. I knew enough about this tech in 2016 to know that this was future-think and not in actual production use. It is today!
In fact, at yesterday's Future Agriculture conference here in Dubai, at which I was a delegate, US Ag Secretary Vilsack announced a big data initiative by USA-IBM and UAE which utilizes drone data. The next speaker ran an (Estonian) drone company, and showed how plant-by-plant delivered fertilizer can be better applied using drones - for good! The future had become the present. Our present. Expo is a window into the future, in my opinion. So is the rise of cities like Dubai. America in many ways is the Old World, and this, is a new world.
But has the American Century just ended? With cooperation, we can all rise together. The Chinese Pavillon (and Olympics) theme was "One World, One Family". Do they believe this is? Or is there a tribal ideology which persists in a once closed culture which is rapidly open? American media is filled with messages of a Chinese Century, but from their Pavilion they claim to see this century as more One Human Family Century... propaganda or truth?
At the Angola Pavillon, the President's (also Orwellian) video message says that he will be using "big data and technology to monitor HIS people" their careers, their needs, movements, and DESIRES. And to "better centrally control such resources". What resources? The people and their life's energies. Dystopian central control established via the wonders of tech (next blog).
Before I jump down that rabbit hole of fear... Let's turn back to the USA Pavillon. First, unlike nations like Kazakstan, Palau, and Turkmenistan - the USA exhibit was off the main path - it was in a deep corner of the park. Sandwiched behind Palestine and near DP World (Dubai Ports exhibit) - at the end of a one way street. USA didn't participate in the Fast Que reservation system, presumably because it was a less frequently visited pavilion, than say Iraq which I had to fast que to enter. In fact, there was no line at USA pavilion, I walked right in, and was alone in the exhibit for about 15 minutes!
I had heard a rumor that USA didn't pay for its own pavilion, under President Trump's request the Emiratis paid for our exhibit to incent us to participate, we were declining to play along. Struggling island nations were given the same charitable donations by the UAE to help get a 'full world participation'. One participant told me "I know America has a lot of debt, but really you couldn't pay for your own exhibit?"
The USA pavilion starts with a 42" TV showing a low energy and barely audible message from a sleepy Vice President Harris. She mumbles about equal and civil rights, it was nice to see her on TV again since she hasn't been seen on American news since the election cycle.
Next there is a Liberty Bell graphic, some slobber about our Founding Fathers. Then there's the moving walk way. I was struck by the image of overweight Americans who are too lazy to walk... ugh. Am I really standing on this walkway too? I'm 10 LBS of excess winter blubber... so I start walking to try and reduce the stereotype I feel I'm misrepresenting of my countrymen/women/non-binaries.
If you can't sense my frustration, yet, as I turn a corner there are the first Americans I have seen since arriving in UAE 4 days prior. They are more overweight than me, wearing the uniformed Nikes, NY yankees cap, speaking loudly and eating all while standing on the slow moving walkway. Shoot me now with one of my many American made guns.
Then there's a static picture of Steve Jobs and the first iPhone. Something about our Moon shot program (I was born in 1968, leaves one wondering why we still present this as a future-tech exhibit?)
You get the idea? Pathetic.
Before the USA Pavilion, I had had lunch at the Iran Pavilion. My Iranian waiter, Saeid, spoke perfect English. The hostess ran over to join our conversation. She explained that Saeid wants to 'come to America' he is like her 'brother and a very hard worker, smart and diligent'. Saeid sells real estate in Dubai on his days off from the Expo waiter job. He works 7 days a week to save money and is trying to make this chance meeting with an American who can help him immigrate to the US of A. He has an engineering degree and is studying for a Master's degree in finance and economics, just like me. He wants to be part of The American experience! He likes old American movies, I do too, represent a different type of (proud) American experience.
At Expo I learned America has fallen down in so many people's eyes, we were described as a 'rudderless ship' without consistent leadership direction. Our morals are questioned in new ways. One person suggested Facebook was a CIA program (more on this in another blog). This is my 3rd trip to The United Arab Emirates since 2008, and there are no longer USA TV stations on the hotel TV. In fact, the only English I heard on TV was Russia Today TV - there's some well produced Propaganda! 15 minutes of RT and CNN looks bias, so does Christian Science Monitor for that matter. "Putin has no intention of invading Ukraine", after all Western Ukraine is Russian land. If you say it enough times, maybe it true?
Here's my main message: Let me design the 2025 Osaka Expo Pavilion.
I will keep the budget tight.
"America is a Great Society of Immigrants" would be our theme. Holograms of immigrant Americans who made The Whole World better - Tesla, Musk, Kissinger, Einstein, Brin, Levi Strauss, Madeline Albright, Pulitzer, Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis - you get the idea? https://www.newamericanscampaign.org/carnegie-corporation-celebrates-great-immigrants-pride-america/
2 lines to get in (Eminems 8 Mile soundtrack in the background):
First Line: Moving walk way to the snack bar, free hot dogs, McDonalds and iPhones... exit thru the gift shop.
Second line: ANYONE CAN BECOME AN AMERICAN. Are you the next Great American? Willing to work hard, pay our taxes, obey our laws? Walk this way... upstairs. Fill out an EB5 immigration form (online, biometric), followed by a series of concierge-like desks which would fast-track the smart, energetic immigrants like Saeid.
I believe the world of humans will surprise US... the second line will be long and well populated with greatness.
Photos of the other (better built) Pavilions in future blog posts.
The political ideas in this post are Bob Waun's solely and do represent the his ideas and opinions. Land of the free means you can disagree, without being disagreeable. We can be neighbors and friends without agreeing. Debate is healthy and opinions can sometimes change, evolve or devolve.