Expos historically have been remembered for the creation of landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the introduction of television and the ice cream cone to mass audiences but fell out of favour in the last few decades.
Why are countries and companies making such a big effort for this Expo when other recent ones have gone largely unnoticed on the world’s stage? The Shanghai World Expo is the biggest and most expensive Expo in history and countries and companies are making special efforts to improve commercial and political ties with China, the world’s third-largest economy.
There are 191 countries attending the six-month long Expo and most have invested record amounts to build their pavilions.
Countries are likely to reap only intangible gains by boosting their tourism appeal to the Chinese public. But they will gain valuable good will with Beijing by attending, especially smaller countries that rely on Chinese trade and aid.
Multinationals like General Motors and Coca-Cola Co are also making record efforts to cement their presence in China and using the Expo to target the huge domestic market.
Do expos make money? – Very few Expos in history have actually turned a profit, with the World Expo in Hanover in 2000 estimated to have lost US$1.1bil (RM3.22bil at today’s rates), while Vancouver’s World Expo held in 1986 estimated to have lost US$33mil.
Shanghai officials say they are not aiming to make a profit but want instead to use the Expo to show China’s achievements to the world and let Chinese people experience different cultures. – Reuters
Most expensive: Saudi Arabia – With a reported budget of US$164mil (RM528mil), it includes imported date palms and a 1,600sq m cinema screen – roughly a quarter the size of a football pitch.
Each of the tiny flexible rods that cover the ‘Seed Cathedral’ holds an actual seed to represent the diversity of nature and potential of life. Almost 4,000 people created a near riot rushing to be photographed in front of Britain’s amazing pavilion during a trial opening of Shanghai’s World Expo last month. – AP
Most innovative: Britain – Nicknamed the dandelion, this “Seed Cathedral” is pierced by 60,000 Perspex spines, each containing a seed, which sway gently in the breeze to reportedly mesmerizing effect
A close-up of the delicate, lace-like exterior of the Polish pavilion that is inspired by traditional paper-cutting. – AP
Most elegant: Poland – The delicate, lacy exterior is inspired by traditional paper-cutting; the interior will offer daily Chopin recitals.
Most imposing: China – At 63m tall, it is three times the height of other pavilions. Though China is the first developing country to host an expo, the size of the building underlines its status as a world power.
Most futuristic: Japan – The weirdly-shaped lilac “silkworm island” uses holes and horns to control the temperature and boasts violin-playing robots. – Agencies
Site: 5.3 square kilometres (two square miles), more than twice the size of Monaco.
Budget: Shanghai has spent 400 billion yuan (58.6 billion dollars) in direct and indirect investments preparing for the Expo, according to state media — more than was spent on the Beijing Olympics. But the Shanghai government only confirms its budget for the site is 28.6 billion yuan.
Expos have two categories: Large-scale “Universal Expositions”, like the one in Shanghai, are held every five years, but smaller “International Expositions” can take place in between. - AFP
Our neighbour Singapore's Pavilion
Green Pavilion of Mexico