Expo 2020 Dubai: South Africa re-introduces itself to the world

Country has got the perfect mix of amazing sights, huge potential and a unique culture

Fuziwe Kubheka, Special to Gulf News
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In the month of October 2021, our team has been knocking off mostly past midnight at at the South African Pavilion. One night in particular on 15 October, we had hit our highest ever tourist visits to the pavilion since our arrival.

Yes, indeed South Africa has a good story to tell and on that day we had 3150 visitors set foot inside the South Africa Pavilion at the World Expo.

The timing of this achievement is momentous with exactly three weeks since we first opened our doors as South Africa to the world. This is a true example that the world has opened its doors for us to meet again. More amazing is the endless floods of people that walk into the Expo2020 grounds taking in the opportunity of traveling around the world and meeting interacting with different countries in a day.

A massive queue of people stand in line daily to come and learn more of what South Africa has to offer.Moreover, they come to the South Africa Pavilion waiting to get their Expo passport stamped that indeed they too have traveled to our beautiful Pavilion. This is the closest to being in our country and the feedback we receive is that indeed they wish to travel to South Africa.

With our country borders fully opened and the vaccination programme underway, South Africa is one of the countries that has eased pandemic travel restrictions.

Expo 2020 Dubai has demonstrated that the world is back to business and both locals and floods of tourists have taken advantage of the 193 countries present at the Expo to restart tourism, business, cultural and social interaction. South Africa is here at to invite the tourists to the beautiful weather of Mzansi.

It is still unimaginable that just a year ago, the whole world was confined in their homes with the fears of COVID-19 and today we walk on these Expo grounds knowing that everyone who works in this place is fully vaccinated.

Expo 2020 Dubai: South Africa re-introduces itself to the world

The precautions are strict with officials disciplining all to wears masks, ensuring intensive cleaning teams wipe down everything touched per second and we the world have been brave enough to step away from fear and experience meeting again.

Our story of excellence

The world has received South Africa well as we started October with our arts, music and cultural physical and digital showcase that has started conversations with new friend, potential business and with general tourists who have visited our pavilion to be inspired by our story of excellence. What has been more amazing to see displayed to the world and our Africa is how we as Team South Africa have presented ourselves to the world as one.

Our presentation has been unique as we speak in one voice as full South Africa Incorporated which works together as a coordinating structure comprising of public, private and non-state sectors. We thank you all private and non-state sectors that have answered the call to country and contributed to work as part of Team South Africa in amplifying South Africa’s presence at the Expo 2020, Dubai.

We truly have reasons to believe that through the Team South Africa approach we are “Inspiring New Ways” to ensure that we attract trade, investment, tourists, arts and culture enthusiast to look to South Africa.

It truly has been twenty one days of greatness with the likes of emerging artists collaborating with our world renowned artists the likes of Volley Nchabeleng meets Master KG has represented truly amazing showcases of collaboration and oneness. Equally so we have seen from South Africa, one of a kind artistic talents such as Percy Miamela who is the only artist who is able to use salt and sand to create artistic images amazing talent and one of a kind.

Equally so, we have reimagined our approach as Team South Africa to ensure that every opportunity presented to the world becomes one where we can present our excellence and advocate for more collaborations with others.

This was equally inspiring in the likes of Wouter Kellerman, one of our own Grammy Award winning flute musicians displaying African jazz rendition with one of our South African women guitarists from my hometown Mafikeng Lesego Nkoyane.

A show stopper event was the One Night with Mzansi where on Sunday, 17 October 2021, South Africa was on the world stage with 200 dignitaries business and country representatives from around the world met South Africa at the Dubai Opera House. The event showcased a depiction of South Africa’s arts, culture, trade, investment, tourism and sports in entertainment showcase.

Hosted by our very own Nomzamo Mbatha, who appeared in the film Coming 2 America earlier this year, One Night with Mzansi, included performances by Mi Casa, Blaq Diamond, DJ Maphorisa, Ami Faku and the amapiano musician Daliwonga. The Mzansi Youth Choir and the Drakensberg Boys Choir, along with Sho Madjozi and the Maskandi artist Khuzai Mpungose graced the stage.

Thando Thabethe, the Queen of Ndebele music Dr Nothembi Mkhwebane as well as Coenie de Villiers were also part of the special event. What was astonishing was for South Africa to be in the Twitter trending top list of the entire UAE. With this, South Africa was successfully showcased to the world.

South Africa at Expo

Most South Africans may wonder why our approach and introduction in October started with a cultural and artistic showcase at. The answer is simple in meeting the world we must be able to introduce ourselves and build relationships and the best way to introduce who we are and our reasons to believe is through culture, arts and music.

Arts and culture always sets the foundation to stimulate conversations on what we have to offer from a trade and investment position. It is still early days however as Team SA here at Expo 2020, Dubai we are aware of the great responsibility we have been given to carry on our shoulders.

Our mandate is clear we need to open doors for our SMME’s in our 9 provinces looking to access new markets and to facilitate investors to look to South Africa. The month of November will deploy and aggressive approach in achieving that.

With one week to November, we are up to it and we encourage you as South Africa private and non-state sector to play your part and join Team South Africa as we re-introduce ourselves to the world.

We know that the journey ahead of us will be demanding as Team South Africa but we remain resilient, reminding the world and ourselves that we are up to the task of knocking on doors and being credible and responsible enough to deliver to the opportunities that will be open to us. We have done it before, and we can do it again.

Our excellence lives inside of us as South Africa and because of this, we have so much potential with a team of young men and women from public and private sector working together as part of Team South Africa. We have so much capability, so much more to give and we ask that you walk this road with us South Africa.

Fuziwe Kubheka is the Director at South Africa pavilion at