Portugal hosts Expo 2020 National Day with unique celebration of culture and innovation

Portugal celebrated its National Day at Expo 2020 Dubai on Friday, January 14th, with special cultural performances and the unique sound of Fado and the Portuguese guitar. Connecting through music, culture, economy and its people was the key message throughout the celebrations, as Portugal showcased its strengths at Expo’s global stage.


The National Day started off with a flag-raising ceremony at the Stage of Nations, in Al Wasl Plaza, followed by speeches and cultural performances. Attending the event was Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General of Expo 2020 Dubai, and Sultan Al Shamsi, UAE Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for International Development Affairs, who welcomed the Portuguese Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Francisco André.


“Portugal’s pavilion highlights how the diversity and inclusiveness of its people, coupled with their creativity and innovation, has created a thriving ecosystem of great opportunities, and allows Expo 2020’s visitors to experience Portugal’s vision of a prosperous future that is shared by all”, said Al Shamsi. “The UAE truly values the ties we share with Portugal, which go back hundreds of years. We are also proud to witness our relations thrive across the political, economic and cultural spheres, and aim to further expand joint collaborations and partnerships with Portugal in areas of mutual interest for the benefit of both our nations”, he added.


Vocalist Teresa Salgueiro, who personifies an emblematic image of Portugal to the world, then took the stage, accompanied by Portuguese guitar players António Chainho and Marta Pereira da Costa, the country’s only female professional Portuguese guitar player, for a soulful fado performance.

Speaking at the Portugal Pavilion after the ceremony, Secretary of State Francisco André said: “We have important economic ties with the UAE, and there are over 50 Portuguese companies based here. Expo has given us an amazing opportunity, and we are opening doors for an exciting business future ahead.”


The President of the Portuguese Republic joined the celebrations virtually, with a video message that was projected on the pavilion’s LED wall. He regreted not being present in Dubai, as he had planned, and said that Expo 2020 “marks the return of our country to major world exhibitions. I want to emphasize the significance of Portugal’s presence in this world event, which is a real meeting place between cultures, countries, ways of seeing life, that allows us to promote and project Portugal, our history, our culture, our economy, our businesses, our gastronomy, our geography and our people”.


Meanwhile, the Commissioner-General of Portugal to Expo 2020 Dubai, Luís Castro Henriques, noted that UAE representatives were “very impressed” with their visit to the Portuguese Pavilion and the activities carried out since the inauguration of the World Expo.


He also found it “emotional” to see the influx of Portuguese visitors during this day, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. “It is, above all, emotional to see elements of the diaspora who arrived at the pavilion at 10am to join the celebrations, as well as Portuguese nationals who travelled 6,000 kilometers to enjoy this day with us”, he said.


The National Day festivities concluded at Jubilee Stage, with the music and multimedia show ‘Al Qantara’ (which means ‘bridge’ in Arabic), featuring Portuguese guitar players António Chainho and Marta Pereira da Costa, along with traditional percussion group Retimbrar.

Portugal also highlighted its talent and innovation on Thursday, January 13th, at the ‘Portugal Business Briefing’, a seminar held at Expo to promote the country’s economic potential and investment opportunities.


This was followed by the launch of a commemorative postcard for the Portuguese Pavilion and the celebration of the 116th anniversary of Livraria Lello – one of the country’s oldest bookstores – with a special Arabic edition of two emblematic works of Portuguese poetry: Os Lusíadas by Luís de Camões, and Mensagem by Fernando Pessoa.


National Days at Expo 2020 Dubai are moments to celebrate each of the 200-plus International Participants, shining a light on their culture and achievements, and showcasing their pavilions and programming.


Running until 31 March 2022, Expo 2020 invites visitors from across the planet to join the making of a new world in a six-month celebration of human creativity, innovation, progress and culture.