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The Syria Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai by XYZ Designers

Project name:
The Syria Pavilion
Architecture firm:
XYZ Designers
EXPO 2020 Dubai, Mobility District, UAE
Andri Iskandar
Principal architect:
Khaled Alshamaa
Design team:
Khaled Alshamaa, Maher Howasli, Noor Al Kallih, Sarah Kotrash, Mohamed Riyas, Joud Tayeb, Wissam Ajaj, Lana Khuzam
Interior design:
Khaled Alshamaa, Maher Howasli, Noor Al Kallih, Sarah Kotrash
Built area:
425 m²
Site area:
425 m²
Design year:
Completion year:
Civil engineer:
Structural engineer:
Environmental & MEP:
XYZ Designers
Tools used:
Gypsum boards, paint, wood, printed graphics
600,000 $
Syria Expo 2020
Cultural Architecture › Pavilion
XYZ Designers: In a country that has been tormented by conflict, we wanted our pavilion to be an inclusive space, and a reminder of who we are as Syrians and as humans. Since the dawn of documented history, the Syrian people have contributed major achievements to the development of human history.

The Syria Pavilion showcases a rich civilization that has laid the foundation of the modern world, remains a dynamic component of it, and wants to rise again and claims its place in the world. It was Syria that was home to the first crop, first Alphabet and first music note and poem. Thus Syrians were the first true example of “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” theme of Expo 2020 Dubai, and we are confident that our rich heritage and pioneering nature will fuel our bright future.

Our theme: together, we will rise

Connecting Minds, Creating the Future since 7500 B.C

At the entrance, visitors are greeted by a timeline that shows the development and interaction of cultures and civilizations in Syria throughout history.

Modern day Syria is home to some of the earliest agricultural settlements in history. These early preliterate cultures developed a system of economic trading and administrative management based on clay tokens. Used for counting, data processing and communication, these tokens are considered by researchers to have established Neolithic redistribution of economy and thereby set the foundation of the Bronze Age civilization. The Syria pavilion invites you on a journey to discover how Syrians are determined to rise together and make the future as we made history.

Exhibit One: A common story

In this exhibit, visitors get to take a look at a physical replica of the first ever written Alphabet dating back to 1400 BC discovered in modern day Syria, and learn how through the ripple effect of this small clay tablet, we all have more in common than we think.

Exhibit two: Let’s grow together

Syrians descend from some of the earliest agricultural societies in history, and we still have it in us to grow and nurture. Guests will be part of an interactive art installation inspired by artist’s aspirations to regrow and nurture our country back to life.

Exhibit three: Rediscovering Harmony

Syrians love music so much so that they wrote the first note ever discovered. The Syria pavilion invites its visitors to sing with us “The Hurrian Songs” as did the people of Ugarit 1400 years B.C. in an audio visual experience room, visitors will learn about the history of this musical note, and listen to an interpretation of it by a Syrian musician.

Exhibit four: Faces from Syria

Every Syrian is part of the awareness that we are all alike and interconnected and that together we will build a brighter future for Syria and all Syrians. This collective art gallery is an attempt to rethink and reformulate our concept of individual and human identity away from narrow prejudices and affiliations.

Facing the gallery wall is a large mirror with the phrase “When I look within, I see you”. When visitors look at the mirror, they become a part of the art exhibition, and one of the faces. Together with the phrase on the mirror, it is a reminder them that we are all one and the same.

Exhibit five: whispers from Syria

The Syria Pavilion wanted to be inclusive and an space of gathering in a country split by conflict. For this central space, we invited over 2000 Syrians to participate in building the Syria pavilion. We manufactured and shipped thousands of wooden tablets to Syrian from all over the world to be their expression medium. Visitors of the pavilion can see what thousands of Syrians have to say and witness highlights of the rich Syrian culture manifesting in this embracing space that represents all of us together.


By Liliana Alvarez

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