The Latvian pavilion at the world fair EXPO 2020 Dubai (1 October – 31 March) has already welcomed over 7,000 visitors, and the number is growing steadily day by day. Now visiting the pavilion is no longer limited to those able to travel there in person as anyone can go on a virtual tour and learn more about Latvia via the mobile app 'EXPLORE LATVIA EXPO 2020’. Both the virtual tour and the game are available in English and Arabic.
“The interest in the Latvian pavilion is high: people are attracted both by its concept and the design. Every day we run 48 fifteen minute long shows where visitors can learn more about our country. So far about 70% of the visitors are citizens and residents of the UAE, and the rest are tourists, business delegations and EXPO staff. Most of them know nothing about Latvia, so to a large extent our work is to explain what Latvia is and where it is located,” shares Inga Ulmane, the Director of the Latvian Pavilion. She adds that with entrepreneurs the case is quite different – their questions tend to be much more specific, and they are rather surprised to learn that Latvians have come up with so many innovative products and technologies.
The app ‘EXPLORE LATVIA EXPO 2020’ has been developed to add to the range of activities and broaden the audience with a virtual solution. The concept of the game is based on an analogy with layers of soil: the deeper you go, the richer it gets (and the more you learn about Latvia!). Each of the seven layers features a different task that symbolically takes the player to a deeper level. Digging, soil exploration and treasure hunt are common themes in many cultures, and here they are bundled with fun challenges that encourage the player to learn interesting facts about Latvia and Latvian companies. Do you know, for instance, what links Latvia to Venus and NASA? The game will tell you that Latvian company ‘Kob Art Design’ has designed a special obstacle sensor for NASA’s Hybrid Automaton Rover-Venus to work in the most extreme conditions. Among other examples of notable companies from Latvia are ‘UAV Factory’ with its drones used to monitor radiation levels at the devastated nuclear power plant in Fukushima, and ‘Latvijas Finieris’ whose products are used in the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. The game also features the Latvian Song Festival and curious facts from our history.
I. Ulmane explains: “The app is our effort to reach out to the audience that cannot visit EXPO 2020 in person, aiming to spread the story of Latvia to as many people as possible. To make it more interesting, the total number of points accounts not only for each player’s individual rating, but also their country’s position, i.e., the more players from one country, the more points it gets and ranks higher in the table. I would add that this activity also positively distinguishes us from other countries – the Latvian pavilion is the only one offering digital entertainment of this kind.”