Austria Minister for Tourism, Agriculture and Regions praises Expo 2020 Dubai for connecting people, and champions women’s education

DUBAI, 07 March 2022. Her Excellency Elisabeth Kostinger (L), the Austrian Federal Minister for Tourism, Agriculture and Regions at the Austria Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai. (Photo by David Gray/Expo 2020 Dubai)

Her Excellency Elisabeth Köstinger, Austria’s Federal Minister for Tourism, Agriculture and Regions, has praised Expo 2020 Dubai as a platform for exchanging ideas and forging new connections.

Speaking during a visit to Expo 2020 on Monday, Her Excellency also said education is key in ensuring women become strong leaders.

How inspiring is it to visit Expo 2020 Dubai and what are your impressions of the site and the event as a whole?

Well, [an] Expo is always a very intense experience because at such an exhibition you have the possibility to visit so many countries, [there are] visionary [and] inspiring people [at one event]. [Expo 2020 Dubai] is very special, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic [as] the organisers [had] to manage all these restrictions, [including] Omicron before Christmas…

I am very proud of the Austrian team that they’ve managed so well, that they represent Austria in such an innovative and sustainable way, and I think for us, it’s a very good opportunity to show the world our way of thinking about the future of Austria, but also [in a way that considers] tradition.

How important is the UAE and GCC for Austria’s tourism industry?

We have a very good partnership. A lot of people from the UAE come to Austria – in ‘normal times’ about 120,000 per year. But, we have a lot of work to do to inspire more people [to visit] Austria especially our beautiful cities, not only just the capital Vienna – there is so much more to experience – Salzburg for example and Innsbruck, and also the facilities for skiing are amazing in Austria. So, we would love to invite people from the UAE and Gulf countries to Austria and have a very good time there!

How has Austria’s participation in Expo 2020 Dubai benefitted the country?

When you think about Austria, people think about lederhosen [traditional outfits], Mozart… and the skiing facilities. But, [also] sustainability is very important for us and [Austria’s] exhibition [at Expo 2020] takes place in a very special building, made of clay, an old material that has a lot of benefits. For us, it’s a very good experience to show people in the world what Austria is about.

How has your participation in Expo 2020 Dubai helped bilateral ties between Austria and the UAE?

There is a strong bond and strong friendship between [our two] countries and as we are all facing a lot of challenges, we have to work together much more. Expo keeps the ground [fertile] for picking up more strategic partnerships, especially when it comes to tackling climate change. We all have to make a transition in our economies, digitalisation is a huge advantage for us but also, a lot of challenges appear and together with totally different cultures, countries and ways of thinking, I think we are much stronger and we have to take this opportunity.

At a time when the world has been battling an unprecedented pandemic with COVID-19, how is Expo 2020 Dubai helping to bring the world together and aiding the global recovery?

It’s such a good place for an exchange [of ideas], to connect to people and to find new innovations and therefore, I personally think that it’s so important that the Expo took place in this difficult time and that it uses all the opportunities to come together again in person.

The pandemic taught us social distancing. But we as people, live from the interactions with other people, from having inspiring conversations, seeing new ways, new opportunities and therefore, I am really thankful for the possibility to be here.

You are here at Expo 2020 Dubai on the eve of International Women’s Day – what do you think is important to champion and support women and girls?

I think, first of all, the most important thing is education… [and then] helping each other, building networks, building bridges and being strong and being tough and never underestimating [a woman’s] power. That’s how women become presidents, leaders or mothers.

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