Dubai: It will be a festival of life, arts, culture and tradition for Mexico at Expo 2020 Dubai. The country will also bring its famous Dia De Los Muertos celebration to share an authentic experience at the Expo, the Mexican Vice-of Foreign Affairs told Gulf News.
In an exclusive interview, Martha Delgado Peralta, Mexican Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, confirmed Mexico’s participation at Expo 2020 Dubai, which will run from October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022. She said: “We will bring people — the best talents, artists, artisans and performers — as well as pieces of arts, musical instruments and archaeological objects from Mexico to Dubai.”
“Our objective is to showcase Mexico’s culture — its glorious past and present condition which is vibrant and dynamic. We will also showcase our gastronomy, history and promote tourism,” she added.
The Mexican vice-minister also praised the UAE for its “successful efforts in combating COVID-19”, noting that “the country is open and prepared for Expo 2020 and we have to learn a lot from the UAE how it handled the pandemic”.
Peralta said Mexico will have a three-storey pavilion, strategically located at the Expo. Details and design of the pavilion are yet to be finalised but it will be fully-funded (at an estimated cost of $50 million) by the Mexican private sector, Peralta confirmed.
Tradition dating back to Aztec festivals
A major highlight at the Mexican pavilion and an event not to be missed, according to Peralta, is the celebration of Día De Los Muertos (Day of The Dead). A tradition in Mexico for thousands of years dating back to ancient Aztec festivals, Día De Los Muertos is a “colourful celebration to honour the spirits of loved ones who have passed away.” It is a two-day celebration in Mexico happening every year on November 1 and 2, which is said to be “a time for deceased loved ones to come back and visit the living world.”
In Dubai, Día De Los Muertos will take place on November 10, the designated Mexico national day celebration at Expo 2020.
Celebration with the dearly departed
Explaining about Día De Los Muertos, Peralta said: “In our indigenous culture — our current life is just a transition. That is why it is important to celebrate death; and for us — as much as you remember and celebrate your dead people, they are still with you. They are not dead if you remember them and celebrate them on that day.”
“In Mexico, family and friends gather to remember and honour their deceased loved ones with food, drink and offerings. Día De Los Muertos is not a day of sadness but of joy and celebration, as the souls of their loved ones are celebrating with them,” she added.
Cultural affairs attache Bernardo Noval said the Mexican pavilion will be decorated with ofrendas or special altars to be made by renowned Mexican artist Mariah Romero. There will also be colourful La Calavera Catrinas (dapper skeletons and elegant skulls) or performers wearing popular costumes during parades in Day of the Dead celebrations.
Noval explained an ofrenda is an elaborate altar decorated with objects honouring the dead and showcasing personal offering to ancestors with object representing the four elements, including water, earth, fire and air.
Deepening cultural relationship
Mexican Ambassador to the UAE Francisca Mendez Escobar said the Mexican expatriate community in the UAE will actively participate in Expo 2020 Dubai. According to Escobar, there are around 1,500 Mexicans who live and work in the UAE, and most of them reside in Dubai. She noted Expo 2020 will help deepen the cultural relationship between the UAE and Mexico as well as build bridges of friendship and cultural exchanges among countries in the world.
‘UAE ready to welcome the world’
Peralta, meanwhile, noted around 7,000 Mexicans are expected to visit during the six-month duration of Expo 2020. The Mexican vice-minister also praised the UAE for its “successful efforts in combating the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Peralta talked of her own experience coming to the UAE. She said: “It was very easy to come to the UAE. There are no restrictions to come. I just presented a negative PCR test and there is also a very good system on arrival at the airport.”
“The UAE is ready to welcome the world and I’m confident people will come. The country is prepared for Expo 2020 and we have to learn a lot from the UAE,” she reiterated.