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Webinar on Women’s Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai: “When Women Thrive, Humanity Thrives”

Sun 20/3/2022

On 24th February 2022, the Consulate General of the United Arab Emirates co-hosted an online event in partnership with the University of Hong Kong’s Gender Studies Programme titled “Women Making an Impact in the Middle East to Create a Better World”, which focused on the first-of-its-kind Women’s Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, a Special Pavilion co-hosted with Cartier.

The event started with opening remarks by UAE Acting Consul General Shaikh Saoud Almualla, who affirmed the UAE’s commitment to women empowerment, citing the remarkable achievements the country has made in recent years, including reaching gender parity in its Parliament in 2021, and the inclusion of 9 women ministers in the cabinet. It is therefore fitting that Expo 2020 Dubai would have a special Pavilion dedicated to women, given the UAE leadership’s longstanding support for women and girls in society.

In their joint presentation, Nourah Gargash, Manager of the Women’s Pavilion, and Lana Farouki, head of Women’s Pavilion project at Cartier (MENA), took the audience on a virtual tour of the Pavilion, which is located in the Sustainability District and bears the motto “When women thrive, humanity thrives”. This slogan underlies the simple yet profound idea that gender equality is a crucial part of sustainable development, and that women’s empowerment creates a ripple effect that benefits the entire community – including men, women and children.

Visitors to the Women’s Pavilion are taken on a narrative journey that starts from the Immersive Room, featuring award-winning director Nadine Labaki’s short film “Women of Wonder”, then through the Achievements Room, in which women’s impacts throughout history are presented as a galaxy of constellations – stars that have shone their light on civilization. The experience then continues in the Challenges Room, which presents issues such as lack of political participation, genital mutilation, poverty, and the effects of COVID-19 which have threatened to undo decades of progress, before culminating in the Solutions Room and Tribute Room, which offer hope and invite visitors to be part of the movement. 

The panelists noted how the immersive exhibition, which through its artistic installations utilizing VR and other media have added a human touch and allow visitors to participate in the day to day normal life of ordinary women as well as to feel their energy and emotions, has received overwhelming positive response. Countless men, women and youth were inspired to ask what they could do to make a difference, and this is exactly the impact the Women’s Pavilion hopes to achieve. In order to maximize its outreach, the Women’s Pavilion’s cultural programming, through the Majlis (meaning “Salon” in Arabic), has hosted many inspiring and inclusive conversations, especially the Women in Arabia/Islam series which strove to address harmful stereotypes.

On the front of public-private partnership, it is evident that this seamless collaboration between Expo 2020 Dubai and Cartier was a result of common values and a shared passion to give women the limelight they deserve. Lana Farouki stressed that commitments towards women lie at the centre of Cartier’s brand philosophy and inspiration, and these objectives are manifested through its philanthropy and the Women’s Initiative supporting women entrepreneurs.

The webinar concluded with a call to action, as the Women’s Pavilion does not only aim to offer a passive viewing experience but also invites everyone to put in the time and effort to be part of the conversation, and collectively come together to improve the status quo of women on a global front. As Nourah Gargash so aptly put it, “When there are more people around the table, the better we can find solutions”.

About the speakers:

  • Opening remarks: H.E. Shaikh Saoud Ali Almualla officially assumed his position as the Acting Consul General in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in November 2021. Prior to his posting in Hong Kong, hehas held several diplomatic positions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and is well-experienced in matters concerning the affairs of countries in the Asia-Pacific region. He served as Chargé d'Affairs at the UAE Embassy in the Republic of the Philippines, from July 2020 to July 2021. His Excellency holds a BA in Political Science, Asian Studies, and International Relations from Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia.
  • Panelist: Ms. Nourah Gargash holds an BA in History of Art from the University College of London (UCL), and the School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS). Graduated in 2018, she began working for Expo 2020 Dubai on the Women’s Pavilion in collaboration with Cartier. During her time on the project, she played a central role in the development of the Exhibition’s visitor journey, design development and operational plans. Currently, she is leading on the Vision and Journey Programming stream that hosts prominent and high-level speakers at the Women’s Pavilion Majlis.
  • Panelist: Ms. Lana Farouki was born in London and raised in Washington DC, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Fashion Marketing. She has lived in Dubai for the last 12 years where she started her career with Cartier in the communications department working on key projects such as the opening of the Dubai Opera. Since 2019 she headed the project of the Women’s Pavilion on Cartier side with a dedicated team working on content, curation, journey and programming.
  • Moderator: Dr. Elizabeth LaCouture is the founding director of the Gender Studies Programme at the University of Hong Kong. She is a historian of women and gender in modern China and the author of Dwelling in the World: Family, House, and Home in Tianjin, China. At HKU, Dr. LaCouture teaches courses on Gender Studies, beauty, and career innovation.
  • Student moderator: Ms. Diaiana Mazaripova is a final year student in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Hong Kong. She is a Gender Studies major with minors in French and Sociology and recently completed a capstone project on the experience of Muslim students at HKU. Daiana comes from Kyrgyzstan and is on the executive board of HKU's Muslim Students' Association. 

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