Serbia – a prominent participant in EXPO exhibitions
June 8, 2024
Although EXPO is being organised in our country for the first time, and in the entire Western Balkans, Serbia has a long and successful history of participating in world exhibitions. Although the first exhibition was held in London in 1851, the history of our participation dates back to 1885 in Antwerp. Serbia’s pavilion occupied an area of 125 square metres, providing space for 302 exhibitors, and during the exhibition, the country’s representatives won a total of 157 awards.

176 years later, Serbia will host the most important exhibition for the entire region – the EXPO Specialised Exhibition, with an exhibition space of 25 ha hosting more than 3 million visitors and 120 participating countries in the course of three months.

EXPO exhibitions are a global gathering of nations dedicated to finding solutions to the pressing challenges of our times. These exhibitions are particularly interesting because some of the greatest technological and scientific achievements of their time were first presented to the public, such as alternating current, the telephone, touchscreen technology and many others, as well as movements in decorative arts such as Art Deco. EXPO exhibitions also left the world with permanent architectural legacies and some of the most famous buildings in the world, such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Atomium in Brussels, the Oceanarium and the new trade fair in Lisbon.

Although the outcomes and legacies of previous EXPO exhibitions were mainly infrastructural buildings and scientific and technological achievements, in recent years the themes of EXPO exhibitions have, in addition, very carefully dealt with the challenges of humanity, i.e. socially important topics such as sustainable development, food or energy. Today, more than ever, the world needs a positive and fresh view of the future. In their concept, the World Expos are great places for discussion and encouragement for all of us, individually and together, to make the world a better place for future generations.

Another exhibition in which our country played a prominent part, was in Paris in 1900, on the Seine River, where our products (food, minerals and fabrics) were presented within a specially built 550 m2 pavilion in the shape of a Serbian-Byzantine style church. Since there were awards for exhibitions back then, we won a total of 19 gold, 69 silver and 98 bronze medals.

Then came a notable participation in the exhibition in Brussels, in 1958, because of which the Atomium, a symbol of Brussels and Belgium today, was built. Considerable attention was again attracted by Yugoslavia’s unique pavilion made of iron and glass. In 1967 in Montreal, 90 countries created their own pavilions, and our architecture told our story with both the external structure and the internal content. The external appearance of the pavilion included elements of the Đerdap Dam on the Danube River and the “Gazela” Bridge in Belgrade.

Since 2000, Serbia has participated in three more exhibitions – in Shanghai 2010, Milan 2015 and Dubai 2021. Shanghai broke all previous attendance records and we had an imposing 1000 m2 pavilion with a façade inspired by a pattern of the famous Pirot carpets. In Milan, we participated with a focus on food, which was the theme at the time, and in Dubai in the post-COVID period, Serbia attracted the attention of more than a million visitors with its impressive performance. During the presentation at Expo 2020 Dubai, Serbia had more than 10,000 business contacts and created a buzz in the global media thanks to science and innovation, as well as our renowned artists and athletes who were part of our installation.

The “Play for Humanity: Sports and Music for All” theme of the Specialised Exhibition in Belgrade provides the participating countries with a wide range of opportunities to present their cultures and heritage in the best possible way, and it is certain that Belgrade will be successful as a host, as well as a participant in previous exhibitions.
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