On September 22nd, ICIJA had the opportunity to attend the Expo Science International (ESI) 2019. On this occasion, we left for the Arab Emirates with two former students and a teacher from the Cardinal Xavierre-Fesd School, specifically for the city of Abu Dhabi.
After many hours of travel by bus, train and plane since the early hours of Sunday morning, we landed at the airport of Abu Dhabi, which was to be our destination for the next six days. There they came to pick us up and we had the first contact with the rest of the participants of the Spanish delegation, who were coming from different points of the peninsula.Tras muchas horas de viaje entre buses, cercanías y aviones desde la madrugada del domingo, aterrizamos por la noche en el aeropuerto de Abu Dhabi, la que iba a ser nuestra ciudad de destino para los próximos seis días. Allí nos vinieron a recoger y donde tuvimos la primera toma de contacto con el resto de participantes de la delegación española que venían de diversos puntos de la península.
On Monday morning, we went to Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center (ADNEC), the place that would host ESI 2019. There we spent the morning setting up the stand and fine-tuning the presentation. Soon after, people from other delegations arrived and we met our stand partners from Mexico, Argentina and nationals from the Emirates. Once everything was ready before the big opening day, we had time to do some tourism and rest. Meanwhile, the delegates from each country attended a gala dinner with some authorities and people in charge who had made the realization of this ESI possible.
The big day begins! Tuesday was the official opening day of ESI 2019 at the ADNEC. After the parade of flags that took place in the exhibition centre, the ministers of education, defence and evolution sciences visited the facilities to see the 700 stands and the more than 1500 participants that were gathered there. We also received a visit from the Spanish Ambassador to the Emirates, who was interested in the participants’ project and tried out his virtual reality glasses.
In the afternoon we visited the Great Mosque of Sheikh Zayed, the largest in the United Arab Emirates and the third largest in the world. Afterwards, we had a reception with the Spanish ambassador, who welcomed us with agape in his house. It was a pleasure to share sensations and to be told a little more about the culture of this wonderful country.
Wednesday was the second day of exhibitions open to the public and after a morning of presentations, we decided to escape in the afternoon to the Louvre in Abu Dhabi.
Thursday was the last day of the fair and one of the most intense, as many people from different schools came to see the exhibition and many people passed by the stand. In the afternoon we organized a tour to the desert and we can say it was certainly a success. During almost 7 hours, we had the opportunity to surf the dunes in a 4×4, ride a camel, dress up in the typical costumes, and even taste some of the traditional dishes. Quite an experience!
On Friday the 27th we had to pick up the stand and prepare our bags as that same night we were taking the flight back. Even though we didn’t want to leave, the day didn’t end there, as there was still a Cultural Night to go to. At the ADNEC they set up a room with a stand and a stage so that each country could show the best of it, making the last day a real party. More than 57 countries gathered in the same space, where they could learn about other cultures, dance, taste typical food and much more.
Once the Cultural Night was over, our bus to the airport was waiting for us. We can only say that this ESI has been an incredible and very enriching experience. To have been able to travel so far to present a project that the children have been working on for some time now has been very gratifying for them and a source of pride for ICIJA.
This type of fair will never cease to surprise us, and we hope to be able to continue telling about our experiences during the coming year.
By Alba Clavero