Iceland's Expo pavilion defies economic troubles, volcano eruption to open on time

08:49, May 02, 2010      

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Iceland opened its national pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo as planned Saturday despite concerns caused by the eruption of an Icelandic volcano and the nation's economic woes.

Right before the brief opening ceremony, Hreinn Palsson, consul general and commissioner general for Iceland at the Expo, taught staff the Chinese phrase "Huan Ying" (welcome).

The first four families received gifts of Iceland cosmetics, souvenir plates and videos of Iceland.

"Although impacted by the global downturn, the Icelanders had been longing to attend the Expo. We tried our best to be here," said Pall Hjaltason, the designer of the pavilion.

Iceland tried to economize in its exhibition, which focused on the relationship between Icelanders and nature, Hjaltason said.

"Although the budget is limited, we finally made it to introduce our country within the amount of money. We only spent 1.7 million U.S. dollars," Hjaltason said.

Iceland rented the 500-square-meter pavilion and decorated it as an "ice cube" covered by glacier photos. The pavilion tries to recreate summer on Iceland by keeping the indoor temperature at around 21 to 22 degrees Celsius.

The pavilion is designed as a cinema, in which people can watch a movie about Iceland on five screens.

"I saw the volcano eruption news. It affected all European countries, so I wanted to know more about Iceland," said Chen Deji, who came to the Expo with his wife and grandson from Nanjing, capital of neighboring Jiangsu Province.

"The pavilion surprised me by really showing volcano pictures on the screen," said 66-year-old Chen.

Ash clouds from the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano caused havoc for air travels across Europe and around the world last month.

"We know the visitors would have expected volcano scenes, so we just put the video into the movie yesterday. The video was shot last week," Hjaltason said.

Actually, the volcano ash did no harm to people's health and the Icelanders loved to watch the eruptions, he said.

"Many countries had been delayed by the volcano ash. We had been worrying about them, but they all appeared at last and even the Iceland Pavilion opened on time," said Qiu Bingbo, deputy director of Zone C Department, Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination.

Source: Xinhua

(Editor:黄硕)

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