The story of ‘indomitable Bangladesh’ that has risen out of war, poverty and natural disaster to mark an impressive socio-economic development is an awe-inspiring model for other underdeveloped countries participating at the Expo 2020, Bangladeshi ambassador to the UAE, Mohammad Abu Zafar told Khaleej Times in an exclusive interview.
The Bangladesh Pavilion located at the sustainability district will showcase the country’s mega infrastructural projects, women empowerment, climate resilience, inclusive industrial policies, agrarian development and its growing pharmaceutical industry that have catapulted the South Asian nation on the path of rapid economic progress.
“This is an Expo where people from all over the world will be visiting. We are going to showcase our story and how far we have come in the last 50 years.”
Bangladesh is celebrating its 50th year of independence this year that coincides with the UAE’s 50th year. In the same year, the country also marks the 100th birth anniversary of its founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The past decade has seen Bangladesh rising as an economic powerhouse with an annual GDP growth touching seven per cent. The World Bank has upgraded Bangladesh’s GDP growth forecast for this fiscal year to 3.6 per cent making it the second best performing economy in the South Asia.
Elaborating on the success story of Bangladesh, the ambassador said his country has been pursuing an inclusive development agenda - meaning equitable development strategy for all administrative districts.
“We have set up 100 special economic zones spread across the country. Even during the pandemic, we marked an incremental growth rate in our exports. We are reaping the benefits of our inclusive and sustainable industrial policy as set by our founding father and later expanded by our leaders,” said Abu Zafar.
From mass starvation, the country has transformed into a surplus food bowl.
“We never thought Bangladesh can grow strawberries and dragon fruits. These were products unknown in the country. We used to be a foot deficit country. In 1972, we used to produce 10 million metric tonnes of food grains. And now we are producing 45 million metric tonnes of food grains. We have surplus food production in the country. Today we are the third largest rice producing country in the world and second largest vegetable growing county in the world,” said the ambassador.
Vision 2040 sets the country on the path to becoming a high-income, prosperous country in the next 20 years. “We are a leading garment manufacturer. Our pharmaceutical industry is also expanding rapidly. We are already transformed from an agrarian to a moderately industrial country. We are recalibrating our manufacturing sector toward this goal,” he said.
“Bangladesh aims at utilising Expo 2020 Dubai by showcasing its potential in human resources development, trade and investment opportunities, availability of competitive and skilled manpower, socio-economic progress, women empowerment, climate resilience, success stories, Delta Plan, Vision 2021 & Vision 2041, and its firm commitment for ensuring global and regional peace and harmony,” he said.
Take a peek inside the Bangladesh Pavilion
The pavilion under the theme 'indomitable Bangladesh’ is inspired by the over 200 rivers criss-crossing the nation and influencing its commercial activities as well its civilisation, culture, ecology and economy. The design uses a sailing boat as a symbol of vibrancy and sustenance to depict the socio-economic, cultural and technological transformation of the country since its birth.
“The objective of this metaphorical presentation is to invite the participants to embark on the unchartered opportunities that the country has to offer, so that they can also be part of Indomitable Bangladesh, a model of sustainable development and tangible changes in their social and economic indicators,” said the ambassador.
Digital and physical displays are the main attractions of the Bangladesh Pavilion. There would be a modern interactive display journey with digital wall and interactive panels. The 87.5 sqm digital wall and around 20 interactive panels will showcase different sectors of Bangladesh. On the other hand, traditional conventional display of physical items will showcase the history and culture of Bangladesh.
Special events will also be held to mark the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation at the Bangladesh pavilion so that the visitors can know about Bangladesh and the history of the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971.
Seminars, workshops and discussions to showcase the life and ideals of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and inspiring leadership qualities will be held. The Export Promotion Bureau will also display Bangladesh’s export products to potential importers from different countries. Various ministries/departments of the Bangladesh government will also showcase their achievements in Expo 2020 Dubai. In addition, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy will organise the cultural programmes during the mega event.
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