How big a business is at stake at the Expo, which has been postponed for a year?
It has two levels: the construction of infrastructure and the exhibition of exhibits, to which the building of business ties is connected. Like previous organizers in Milan or Shanghai, Dubai also anticipated that investments in the order of tens of billions of dollars (in the amount of hundreds of billions of crowns) should ensure the development of infrastructure and urbanism in the long term.
This money spun a giant business for exhibition center suppliers and pavilion builders. Unfortunately, the less time left for the Expo, the more prices rise. If you are late with the construction of the highway, so to speak, “nothing happens”. If you miss the Expo by half a year, you have blown up a huge investment. We also faced this pressure until the last moment. Suppliers benefit from this advantageous position.
Then there are the exhibitors who are trying to attract.
The main interest is in the SAWER system (abbreviation for Solar Air Water Earth Resource), which is the only one in the world that can produce water from dry air. He is the only one in the field to work 100% independently. You normally need 66 percent or more humidity to condense from the air, SAWER can handle it even at 15 percent humidity. It collects water by using solar energy, the surface tension of the material, so it needs significantly less energy than the competition.
The Průša Research 3D printers, Vlastimil Beránek’s Czech glass and fossil oaks in front of the pavilion – six thousand-year-old wood, from which beautiful tables are created, also attract attention.
Did participation in the Expo help to start negotiations with potential candidates for SAWER?
We have about ten serious applicants, potential investors from Australia, Dubai, Riyadh, Malaysia and friendly NATO countries. The Indians have been to the pavilion twice before, planning a ministerial visit. Some have already been seen in Prague.
The large version of the SAWER produces up to eight hundred liters of water per day, but we also have medium and smaller versions. The smallest can be carried by two men, it is intended for humanitarian purposes. SAWER is not a solution for places where infrastructure already exists or where you can desalinate the sea. There you get drinking water significantly cheaper and faster. But it is a solution for places where there is no water.
You can drop the SAWER from the helicopter and have water after a small installation. For example, you can build clues for people or camels in the desert. Existing oases are drying up. But you don’t need 25,000 liters of water a day to save them. A thousand is enough for self-sustainability. In the same way, SAWER can help to ruin watercourses at higher altitudes in the Czech or Afghan mountains.
If negotiations with the interested party turned out well, how big contracts would be created?
For example, if an applicant were to obtain a license to manufacture or sell the SAWER system, it would depend on how large an area it would cover. A license to trade with SAWER only in the Gulf would definitely be cheaper than to trade with it for the whole of Asia. But we can say that the license can be in the order of tens of millions of crowns.
Is water production from dry air expensive?
The technology becomes more efficient and the ratio between the purchase price and the produced liter of water is reduced. Water is produced more for less money. But it’s still quite expensive.
The current large container version costs six million crowns. It’s just a container price, not a development. One produces electricity, the other water. A solar shield must be spread over both. You can turn one square meter of solar panels into one to two liters of water a day, depending on the humidity.
Many Asian countries are closed due to a pandemic, visitors from many large markets cannot arrive at the Expo, or only in very limited quantities. Aren’t you afraid that the organizers will suffer hard for a monstrous and extremely expensive event?
The pandemic problems of China and India are and will be well known. Attendance will be lower than the expected 25 million. I think it will be under twenty. It will also depend on how the world argues with the covid variant of the delta. It will be a success for us when ten percent of all visitors come to us. If there are a total of ten million, a million will be great here.
Do you count visitors to the Czech pavilion?
Yes. The simplest method. We squeeze the crumbs. One thing is the number of visitors, the other is their satisfaction. When you build a big gate and give everyone free beer, a lot of people come, but what will they find out about the Czech Republic?
What will happen to the buildings worth hundreds of millions after the Expo? The complex is large, standing on 4.4 square kilometers.
The expo is not built on a green field, but on golden sand. It has to fill the space between Abu Dhabi and Dubai. We are located about forty kilometers from the center of Dubai and only eighty kilometers from Abu Dhabi. The largest buildings of organizers and exhibitors will remain in the area of the complex, which is networked and where, among other things, the Dubai Metro leads. A socio-cultural background will be created, around which other development projects, often flats, will operate.
What is the value of pavilions, often architectural gems, using the latest innovations?
Ours cost less than a hundred million crowns, another hundred cost an exhibition. The rest is paid by the exhibitors themselves. They had to produce the exhibits, transport them, have some of their people and still pay rent. The building and exhibition space are rented for public funds. We leave it to the private sector, its courage, ideas and investment power, what it will present here. I am not in favor of the state having the main say in this. Business has to say for itself.
What will Škoda look like in 2030:
What will happen to the Czech pavilion after the Expo?
We signed the contracts in 2017 with the proviso that after the end of the Expo we will dismantle the pavilion, recycle the maximum possible and return the sandy land to Dubai in its original condition. Now we and a few other pavilions have received an offer to let the pavilion stand for another five years without paying rent. They would leave us the land for free and we could continue to operate.
So you’re staying in the desert?
The foreign and industrial ministries do not have a team in Dubai to run the pavilion. We return after the Expo. There is no reason to continue operating the pavilion. Looks like we’re going to take it apart. I spoke with the commissioners of some other pavilions. Some have already sold the pavilions in advance, as most expected to use them for half a year to a year. The postponement of the whole event for a year alone caused a number of problems: corrosion, fatigue of materials. The one-year delay became more expensive for everyone.
The Czech pavilion stands next to one of the three entrance gates to the complex. This seems like a good strategic position.
We knew from the beginning that we wanted to present an oasis in the desert and we did not want to drown it between two buildings. We are not in the middle of the row, the pavilion can also be seen from the side. We also wanted to be in the sustainability section, which we did. And we didn’t want to be overshadowed by the big pavilion. Neighbors of such a Spanish pavilion, for example, are practically invisible. We also hope that not only people will come to us after entering the gate, but that they will also stop “for one” and those who will leave.
You are adjacent to a very distinctive Singapore, there are long queues in the pavilion full of greenery.
Both pavilions are definitely worth a visit. We focus on the key, sustainability, in terms of construction, operation, lowest carbon footprint, energy intensity and environmental impact. Unlike the Singapore pavilion, ours has no deep foundations, you can easily and quickly disassemble our construction.
We produce energy with solar collectors, we produce water for watering with the SAWER system, we use the residual heat to heat water in the kitchen. We have toilets that flush 1.5 liters of water instead of the average five liters. This technology is presented here by Swiss Aqua Technologies, a subsidiary of Siko. They use the pressure in the risers, so they do not need any additional energy for the vacuum.
What can a visit to the Expo be useful for companies and entrepreneurs?
It is a world exhibition from the very beginning aimed at the general public. The professional or industrial part is a small part. Every pavilion has its own theme, far from everyone is about industry, high-tech innovation and the like. Some focus on historical reflections, others present in the form of tourist invitations. We show the Czechia as a country of healing spas, care and beautiful cities. Most of the exhibition is high-tech. Companies can look for inspiration at the Expo. However, we live in the 21st century.
What do you mean?
The organizers have the handle that there are at least a few exhibits at the Expo in the world premiere. For us, I will mention the new generation of 3D printers Průša Research or the mentioned innovative toilets from Swiss Aqua Technologies.
In history, inventors have waited for the Expo to introduce locomotives, telephones or ketchup to the world. When you develop something today, you go to market immediately with the product. I do not assume that there will be a large number of innovations or patents to be found in world premieres. But there are still new solutions. There are 190 exhibitors and 60 original pavilions – everyone, visitors and companies can find theirs here.
Who are the exhibitors targeting?
Suppliers of art exhibits, such as wood or glass, target developers, hotel chains or mobile families. For example, some statues often end up on yachts, they can be stabilized. Proven companies such as Lasvit, which also participates and, in addition to the Dubai Opera House and part of the metro, also decorated a number of local hotels, strengthen their position on the market with their participation. Then there are great players like Pilsner Urquell who don’t want to miss him. Smaller companies, on the other hand, try to penetrate more through the Expo. Manufacturers of cartridges for printers, tiles or various lights also take part.
Take a look at what other interesting pavilions at the Expo look like:
Source: E15.cz by www.e15.cz.
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