theolynn

Return to World Expo 2010 – Day Six, Part 1 of the DCU Business School Trip to Shanghai 2010

In Ansgar Halbfas, Balancity, Business Education, Chinese Food, Chinese Private Enterprise Pavilion, Chinese State Shipbuilding Pavilion, DCU Business School, Dining, Doing Business in China, Dublin City University, German Pavilion, Ireland, MBS in Marketing, MSc in Business Management, MSc in E-commerce, Russian Pavilion, Saudi Arabian Pavilion, Shanghai, USA Pavilion, World Expo 2010 on July 27, 2010 at 11:30 am

Given the previous late night, the group were given the option of travelling over toWorld Expo in the morning or meeting in the afternoon. Surprisingly a group of 15 managed to get out of bed and we set out for the Expo site, this time without Xiaoxia to guide us. There was a great atmosphere on the train; probably due to the relief from the 36 degree heat outside – apparently the hottest day at Expo so far! We decided to check out Zone D and E this morning. These sites are on the Puxi site on the opposite side of the river to where the country pavilions are located.

Barry Sweeney and Nick Opris follow Wafa AlMuhamm and the others up to the walkbridge at the Puxi Site of World Expo 2010, Shanghai. It is 36 degrees.

Barry Sweeney and Nick Opris follow Wafa AlMuhamm and the others up to the walkbridge at the Puxi Site of World Expo 2010, Shanghai. It is 36 degrees.

There were less queues on the Puxi site and again mostly Chinese visitors. Our first stop was the China State Shipbuilding Pavilion, mostly because it was big, there and not outside! It was surprisingly good and had an abundance of augmented reality interactive exhibits that allowed you control a wall-based mouse to control software on ships etc. You can check me out on Youtube literally missing the virtual boat! Obviously the main focus was celebrating the Chinese shipping industry – China need not worry about the Irish!

Laurynis Binderis demonstrates the augmented reality application at the Chinese State Shipbuilding Pavilion, World Expo 2010.

Laurynis Binderis demonstrates the augmented reality application at the Chinese State Shipbuilding Pavilion, World Expo 2010.

Our next stop was the Private Enterprises Joint Pavilion, where we got full VIP treatment including a tour from Meng Fu, the VIP Reception Manager to the Pavilion. The Pavilion is sponsored by eight Chinese companies from a variety of sectors including the Internet, filming, e-commerce, gaming, anime, mobile phones, household stuff, garments, amusement parks and attractions. Again much use was made of augmented reality and interactive elements throughout. At the end of the tour, we were given prime seats to 10-minute piece that combined music, computer-controlled synchronised balls and dance – it’s hard to explain in words but was amazing to experience. Nick Opris got some of it on video though and you can see it on youtube.  We had very little time before to get back to meet the rest of the group on the main site but decided the Information and Communication Pavilion was worth trying to get into. The queues were huge so we tried to blag our way in with VIP passes and nearly succeeded but got caught at the last line of defence – apparently we weren’t the scheduled group of Irish visitors – the Ernst and Young Entrepreneurs! Our failed attempt was fun in itself and kept us amused on the bus over to get some lunch before meeting the others at the Saudi Arabian pavilion.

DCU Business School Students and Dr. Theo Lynn pose outside the Chinese Private Enterprises Pavilion at World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

DCU Business School Students and Dr. Theo Lynn pose outside the Chinese Private Enterprises Pavilion at World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

We decided to eat in one of the public Chinese restaurants, it was amazingly good value – €2-€3 for a meal, somewhat like a Chinese takeout in Ireland, and a soft drink. The downside was there was very little room to sit so everyone was dispersed around the very busy shared seating space. We ate up and left quickly.

DCU Business School Students wait in the 36 degree heat at the VIP entrance to the Saudi Pavilion, World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

DCU Business School Students wait in the 36 degree heat at the VIP entrance to the Saudi Pavilion, World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

Wafa AlMuhamma, one of our Saudi e-commerce postgrads, organised for us to have VIP access to the Saudi Arabian pavilion. This was a real treat as it is ranked as one of the top pavilions at World Expo.As we waited for the rest of our team, we watched as thousands of people joined the 6-hour queue to get in to the pavilion – remember, that’s 8 hours in 36 degree heat and very high humidity!

The Saudi Pavilion at World Expo 2010 has a bedouin tent with real palm trees on its roof and a 1600m2 inverted screen inside.

The Saudi Pavilion at World Expo 2010 has a bedouin tent with real palm trees on its roof and a 1600m2 inverted screen inside.

So what’s all the fuss? The so-called ‘Moon Boat’ is obviously boat-like and points to Mecca. As well as a rooftop bedouin tent and palm trees, a double helix stairs and other exhibits, the x factor which makes this pavilion stand out is a 1600 square meter inverted screen that visitors pass through on a conveyor belt immersed in a film that visits various regions of Saudi Arabia. Nick tried to get it on video (see it on youtube) but to be honest it doesn’t do the experience justice. It is hard to describe – the room is pitchblack and the audio and film totally surrounds you giving a truly immersive experience, which at times is quite overwhelming. Bono needs check it out for the next tour!


In the Saudi Pavilion, you are surrounded by and travel by conveyor belt throughy a 1600 sq. metre inverted screen showing a film on Saudi Arabia. You are literally immersed in (and sometimes overwhelmed by) the film.

In the Saudi Pavilion, you are surrounded by and travel by conveyor belt throughy a 1600 sq. metre inverted screen showing a film on Saudi Arabia. You are literally immersed in (and sometimes overwhelmed by) the film.

If you knew nothing about Saudi after being in their pavilion, you would leave thinking three things – (1) they have a very old and established culture, (2) they are wealthy, and (3) they are extremely technologically advanced. Whether (3) is a specific goal or not, it has placed them very high on the hierarchy within World Expo and in the minds of visitors. If you can’t visit World Expo, the Saudi Expo website is worth checking out –http://www.saudiexpo2010.com/.

The USA Pavilion Rep was very excited to meet Irish people apparently and was even more excited when we gave her an Irish pin for her collection. Laurynis Binderis, Laureen Morrissette and Beatrice Metzler look on....

The USA Pavilion Rep was very excited to meet Irish people apparently and was even more excited when we gave her an Irish pin for her collection. Laurynis Binderis, Laureen Morrissette and Beatrice Metzler look on....

Having had our breath taken away, we re-entered the sunlight with our additional gifts from the Saudi pavilion – bags, cds and books and headed towards the USA pavilion, which Laureen Morrissette, one of our MBS in Marketing postgrads, organised VIP access for. The USA pavilion is very different than the others we have visited as it seemed to be primarily funded by industry. As well as some exhibits on the US, the pavilion comprised of three video auditoriums where we were presented with “three acts” showing different aspects of USA-China relations and in particulat ABCs – ‘American Born Chinese’. The final video was quite a nice and inspiring film about community greening – all the mommies and daddies out there will empathise! After this, you can walk around various sponsor exhibits. I quite liked this aspect. While many others skirted away from industry, the US didn’t and you left being exposed to some of the world’s greatest brands – Intel, Microsoft, Dell, GE and others. What is annoying is that the Irish pavilion could easily have left the same impression – after all, Intel, Microsoft, and Dell (well, they haven’t gone away you know!) all have significant operations in Ireland. The other thing I like about the USA pavilion is that their online site is pretty good and if you want to get some of the USA pavilion experience, they have a pretty good virtual tour and you can see each of the videos – http://pavilion.expo.cn/c5001/ssize/en/index.html – which is pretty engaging for all ages. Be warned – the music is very catchy! (You can see more of our USA Pavilion photos on this flickr set)

Beatrice Metzler, Joe Cullinan, Brian Connolly, Micheal O'Leary, Niamh NicClamha and Andrew Bonello enter Act I of the USA Pavilion to be greeted by the US good and great on screen while the US corporate sponsors are shown on background.

Beatrice Metzler, Joe Cullinan, Brian Connolly, Micheal O'Leary, Niamh NicClamha and Andrew Bonello enter Act I of the USA Pavilion to be greeted by the US good and great on screen while the US corporate sponsors are shown on background.

Ekaterina Zavershinskaya, one of our Russian MBS in Marketing postgrads, organised VIP access for us in the Russian pavilion. This was quite a jarring experience after the corporate tight controlled feel of the US pavilion. While the outside of the Russian pavilion is very, well, Russian, the interior  is ideal for kids because it was designed by them.

DCU Business School students walk through the fairytale world of the Russian Pavilion at World Expo, 2010.

DCU Business School students walk through the fairytale world of the Russian Pavilion at World Expo, 2010.

Featuring dayglo plants, spaceships and buildings the Russian designers have recreated a city from the perspective of a child’s imagination. Great for kids, not so sure about the rest of us, for me it was…immersive.

Dr. Theo Lynn being devoured by Russian dayglo flowers at Russian Pavilion, World Expo 2010.

Dr. Theo Lynn being devoured by Russian dayglo flowers at Russian Pavilion, World Expo 2010.

The big event for us was the German pavilion. Despite the valiant efforts of our two German marketing and e-commerce postgrads, Beatrice Metzler and Martin Hennig, getting VIP access to the German pavilion proved difficult. Like the Saudi pavilion, the German pavilion had huge queues of several hours however the Lithuanian’s came to the rescue and through various contacts got us a special tour with one of the interior designers/architects, Ansgar Halbfas.

The DCU Business School Shanghai 2010 Group outside the German Pavilion, Balancity, at World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

The DCU Business School Shanghai 2010 Group outside the German Pavilion, Balancity, at World Expo 2010, Shanghai.

And so at 4pm, we headed over to the German pavilion where calamity struck! The air conditioning had failed and the pavilion was temporarily closed – cue dejected Chinese and Irish! It says a lot about Ansgar’s passion that he didn’t give up – equipping us with Sennheiser wireless headsets (designed in Germany, Made in China!) – Ansgar brought us on an exclusive tour of the exterior of the pavilion. This was really excellent – rarely do you get the architect’s view of design and it was very special to hear how they put together the pavilion and the changes they made as the pavilion evolved.

Ansgar Halbfas (Chiarc Sights) on the exterior balcony of the German Pavilion at World Expo, Balancity, giving the DCU Business School Shanghai 2010 group a tour and talk on the design of the German Pavilion using Sennheiser wireless earphones and mic.

Ansgar Halbfas on the exterior balcony of the German Pavilion at World Expo, Balancity, giving the DCU Business School Shanghai 2010 group a tour and talk on the design of the German Pavilion using Sennheiser wireless earphones and mic.

I note that the Germans also had their fair share of grass covering different parts of the pavilion and I note that wasn’t the only thing borrowed from the Irish pavilion. As the Irish pavilion was located opposite the German one, the German sign was lit by a large spotlight placed on the top of the Irish pavilion. Unfortunately after our exterior tour, the air conditioning hadn’t been fixed. Ansgar didn’t give up though and asked us back at 7pm – fingers crossed! (You can see more of our German Pavilion photos on this flickr set)

More photos on flickr. Day Six Part II to follow….
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  1. Dear Theo, I regret to inform your readers and you that the reason the US Pavilion was so corporate was that it was essentially sold off to 60+ Chinese and American multinationals after the Bush and Obama Administrations refused to seek public funding from the US Congress. In this situation, they could horse-trade for political favors with the corporate CEOs. It’s become quite a scandal that you can read about on the Shanghai Scrap blog and on Huffington Post. (Search for “US Pavilion.”) Our IRS, the tax agency, may be investigating the situation as its all tax-exempt — i.e., American taxpayers have to make up the taxes unpaid on the USD 75 millon or so in revenues that the US Pavilion organization has realized. Given that it’s for a six-month billboard, it’s quite a controversial item.

    Two other brief notes.

    Most American commentators have lamented the fact that the American people have been kept out of the loop, not even knowing there is an Expo happening in Shanghai. Virtually nothing at the Expo represents their hopes, dreams, and aspirations, but even worse, they know nothing of the Chinese’. Again, this was by intention.

    Secondly, in American history, growing gardens on rooftops and in alley ways has historically been associated with near-starvation living standards in urban neighborhoods during economic recessions and the Great Depression. That it is depicted in our US Pavilion as a sweet story is only indicative that things at home are bad and getting worse. Not starvation yet, but exceedingly high food prices and falling wages are making it very tough for many American families.

    For more on this, listen to this radio broadcast on our Santa Monica, California, public radio station, KCRW. It’s by Warren Olney, a much respected news commentator in Los Angeles.

    “The Shanghai Expo and America’s Decline,” July 26, 2010
    http://www.kcrw.com/news/programs/tp/tp100726the_shanghai_expo_an

    • Hi Bob

      Thanks for the comment. I think something like World Expo can be divisive and I, personally, believe that Governments should fund projects like World Expo. From one perspective, it is a billboard and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I know from the perspective of many European countries and indeed smaller countries, it is about educating the general Chinese population that their country exists in the first place – it is not aimed at the home nation’s population. Notwithstanding this, I think there is a lot of room for home country civic and public engagement that most countries missed and I do think home countries need to do more to communicate why World Expo is important and worthy of investment.

      Given the them of World Expo 2010, I thought the US pavilion had a fairly strong but simple message and got that across. I accept things are tough for many American families however greening the community shouldn’t necessarily be seen as a spin on lack of local community investment but rather an opportunity for communities to come together to take responsibility for their own locale. In Ireland, allotments have never been more popular and not just because of the recession and higher prices but because people consider it better for the environment, they meet new people in their community, it keeps them fit and they are proud of their achievements.

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