Expo 2020: Syrian Pavilion

Syrian student Matab Mashta previews her home country’s pavilion at Expo 2020.

When Expo 2020 first started, I wondered how I would be able to visit the countless pavilions. Then, I learned the good news that NYU Abu Dhabi students are given a seasonal pass that allows us to visit Expo 2020 any time we want. The pass is helpful in giving us the flexibility to schedule multiple Expo visits to fit our demanding college schedules. 

In addition to the seasonal pass, there were scheduled school trips where transportation was provided from campus to Expo grounds. I signed up for my first Expo trip and visited my home country’s pavilion — Syria.

Syria Pavilion: Meaningful Experiences & Uniqueness 

Entering the pavilion, I was not sure what to expect due to my country’s economical and political instability. But I was very wrong. 

Inside the pavilion, you will see a huge wall with lots of Arabic words and their translations in different languages.

A glimpse into the Syrian pavilion at Expo 2020.

Here, you can also get a glimpse of a delicate rock that contains one of humanity’s first alphabets, Ugarit. 

The Syrian guides in the pavilion will enthusiastically tell you about the music room of the pavilion. As you walk on, the music gets louder and varied paintings by Syrian artists begin to reveal themselves. Some of these paintings had beautiful blends of colors and others touched on the subject of identity. They inspire a range of emotions in the hearts of many Syrians, and others who struggle with being from a place that has changed so much. 

The pinnacle of the experience however is deeper in the pavilion. As you progress from the art room, you enter another covered with diverse wooden slabs painted by Syrians who had left home, but came together again from around the world to contribute to the Syrian Expo pavilion. 

Each wooden tablet was unique. One had a famous quote, one had hand-crafted art, and others were painted. 

Diverse wooden slabs painted by Syrians who had left home being shown in the Syrian Pavilion at Expo 2020.

It was very meaningful to be in that room because it felt like all these Syrian contributors were there with me in person. It also made me reflect on those who left the country and have not been able to be reunited with their loved ones since.

A little about me:

Matab Mashta, NYU Abu Dhabi Class of 2025.

My name is Matab Mashta, but you can call me Tubi. I’m a first year student at NYUAD. I will be NYUAD's first cohort to graduate from the new major, Business, Organizations and Society.

I have been on campus for three months. On some days, you won’t see me because I will be in my room studying. On other days, I will have breakfast with friends, hang out with another friend group, and then chat with a random person in a marketplace or library cafe. I love listening to people talk about the things that make their eyes sparkle. If you want to see my sparkly eyes, ask me about alternative rock and punk music, what I ate, or theories about how life works. Or really we can just debate if bitter coffee tastes good or not.