Monday, October 25, 2021

Biden-appointed Dubai Expo boss to lobby Congress to end world fair funding ban

STORY CONTINUES BELOW THESE SALTWIRE VIDEOS

By Alexander Cornwell

DUBAI (Reuters) – U.S. Commissioner General to the Expo in Dubai Robert Clark, who was appointed by President Joe Biden, said on Tuesday that he would lobby Congress to pass legislation to allow the government to finance the country’s participation in future world fairs.

The United States is banned by Congress from using public funds to take part in fairs organised by the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), like the six-month Expo that started in Dubai last week.

Host the United Arab Emirates instead financed the pavilion of its key security partner, which houses the U.S. exhibition, at a cost of $60 million.

“One of my missions going forward … is to educate the United States Congress, on both sides of the aisle, to the benefits of participating in the Expo,” Clark said at Expo. “I am having those conversations now.”

Clark is the Expo’s most senior U.S. government representative.

Congressional delegations are expected to visit the Expo, and Clark said he planned to “emphasise the importance” so that the government would be able to use public funds going forward.

Clark, a businessmen who was has been in the unpaid role for less than a month, was speaking to reporters at the U.S. pavilion which features a replica Space X Falcon 9 rocket and a Koran that was owned by third president Thomas Jefferson.

“United States of America” is written in English and Arabic outside the pavilion. Visitors can eat “New York” bagels and drink Budweiser beer at the pavilion’s restaurant and buy NASA T-shirts in the souvenir store.

The U.S. is forecasting its pavilion will attract over 2 million visitors the six months the fair runs for. Expo organisers expect 25 million visits to the fairgrounds.

The U.S., which has said it is interested in hosting the smaller “Specialised Expo” in 2027 in Minnesota is one of nearly 200 countries taking part in the Dubai fair, including adversaries China and Russia.

(Reporting by Alexander Cornwell, editing by Ed Osmond)

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