Building From the Ground Up in Djibouti

Building From the Ground Up in Djibouti
Djibouti Pavilion at Dubai Expo

The ‘Land of Trade and Meeting’ impressed visitors at Expo 2020

While you may have not yet heard of this tiny country on the ‘horn of Africa’, Djibouti came out of its shell at the long-awaited Expo 2020 in Dubai. The Expo opened on October 1st, 2021, and closed on March 31st, 2022, dates that were rescheduled from 2020, with rolling delays that caused the event (originally set for 2020) to be pushed out due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But, that won’t stop Djibouti from impressing and educating visitors at the Djibouti pavilion during Expo 2020. Themed the ‘Land of Trade and Meeting’, the Djibouti pavilion introduced this nation as a future hub for transportation and logistics services.

The Industrial Evolution of Djibouti

A leader in what is being called the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ in Africa, Djibouti is playing its part – experiencing stable growth in the agriculture and services industries, and culminating in an 8.4% GDP growth from 2018 to 2019. One of Djibouti’s best assets is its strategic location. Being able to connect the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, Djibouti has taken advantage of its geography by providing quality transit and transportation services. The Port of Djibouti also acts as an international transshipment and refuelling center and is a vital part of African trade.

The Port of Djibouti is so important to Djibouti’s economy, that it also manages to function as a French naval facility and as a station for US counter-terrorism troops. Djibouti’s pavilion at the Expo 2020 will help familiarise attendees with Djibouti’s global role, and cement knowledge about what exactly this little-known nation does.

Although Djibouti is enjoying a steady growth rate, things haven’t always been easy in this sun-kissed country. As many as 23% of Djibouti’s people still live below the poverty line. From 1991 to 1994, Djibouti broke out in civil war, which lead to political instability. The civil war was the catalyst for a debilitating slowdown in the economy for a long time. Today, Djibouti’s economy has experienced decades of solid growth due to increased privatization, economic reform, foreign investment, and exporting – and its pavilion at the Expo 2020 in Dubai will demonstrate just how far they’ve come.

Quest for sustainability - Vision 2035

Djibouti doesn’t plan to stop there. In its pursuit of a strong, sustainable Djibouti by the year 2035, the nation is focusing its efforts on looking into unorthodox sources of energy – wind, turbine, solar, and geothermal – just to name a few examples. At the Djibouti Expo 2020 pavilion, you can learn all about Djibouti’s grand plans to transition into 100% clean energy by 2035.

‘Vision 2035’ is what the Djibouti government has dubbed the movement. A long-term strategy to improve the country’s future, Vision 2035 involves getting Djibouti’s youth, political parties, businesses, development partners, and the international community. Its economic objectives include the lofty goal of tripling Djibouti’s per capita income and the creation of an additional 200,000 jobs by 2035. They also hope to achieve this by creating opportunities in several different sectors – fishing, framing, logistics, finance, manufacturing, tourism, and more.

Apart from its efforts to delve into sustainable energy, the government is also striving for peace and unity by 2035. They aim to achieve this by strengthening institutional frameworks, promoting social cohesion, and encouraging national solidarity. Djibouti is seeking to establish a culture of peace – a stark difference from what transpired in the country from 1991 to 1994. The Djibouti pavilion at the Expo 2020 is the perfect setting to get acquainted with Vision 2035’s five core objectives: peace and national unity, good governance, a diversified economy, human capital investment, and regional integration. It’s a complex network of initiatives, and you can learn more when Expo 2020 comes around.

A melting pot of cultures under the African sun

A country influenced by an array of cultures, Djibouti surprises many with its unique history and rare geography. Much like how Djibouti’s lands are a combination of dry shrubs, volcanic formations, saltwater lakes, and yellow-sand beaches, Djibouti’s people are also a combination of many things. They are multi-linguists – with locals being able to speak 4 languages (Somali, Afar, French, and Arabic). They are geographically scattered – 40% of Djibouti’s population live in the desert mountains, while the rest live in the city. They are multi-faceted – the Djibouti people’s culture and heritage not only come from France and the Middle East but also from Somalia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea.

A relatively new nation – having only gained independence in 1997, Djibouti’s culture can be described as a melting pot. Combining ancient traditions with modern practices, Djibouti’s people celebrate both tribal customs while accepting some Western norms (for example, jeans and a t-shirt have been widely adopted in the use of everyday clothing).

At the Expo 2020, the Djibouti pavilion will take you through Djibouti’s culturally rich heritage. Featuring handcrafted household objects and other ornaments, you can learn all about Djibouti’s fascinating story at the expo!

Empowering the youth through design

Tying into Vision 2035’s aims to empower the youth, the Djibouti pavilion’s innovative design was first conceptualized by students at the National University of Djibouti, and the final design has been closely modeled on the students’ original concept. Djibouti’s pavilion design is one of nine student-designed country pavilions at the upcoming expo – the others being Malawi, San Marino, Zimbabwe, Grenada, Suriname, Sri Lanka, and Saint Kitts and Nevis.

Featuring bright, color-block style hues of orange, green, red, and blue, the pavilion is built in the shape of a shipping container. Its design resembles Djibouti’s ambitions to become Africa’s largest logistics center by the year 2035, and reportedly reflects the efficiency of moving between the ‘narrow streets of a labyrinth layout’.

The pavilion will feature cultural ornaments, information panels, slideshow presentations, audio stations, and more, and is sure to entertain visitors at the Expo 2020.

We surprised ourselves with a journey of economic growth, tradition, and unity at the Djibouti pavilion at Expo 2020 in Dubai. There’s much to learn and admire about this small country’s big plans for the future. With ‘Vision 2035’ approaching, see what this brave country is doing to fulfill all its ambitions.