Anu Vehvilainen Speaker of the Parliament of Finland delivers a speech during the Finland National Day

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The happiest country in the world celebrated its National Day at Expo 2020 on 31 October, demonstrating what it takes to keep Finnish people smiling. The line-up included performances by singer-songwriter and pop kantele player Ida Elina, and male choir Seminaarinmäen Mieslaulajat, better known as Semmarit, at Al Wasl Plaza, the Finland Pavilion and venues across the Expo site.

Ida Elina charmed attendees with renditions of Pharrell Williams' Happy and Expo 2020 anthem This Is Our Time, while the jocular members of Semmarit kept onlookers smiling with self-penned upbeat tunes, rounded off with typically Finnish song Trails of a Wolf.

Her Excellency Anu Vehviläinen, Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Finland, was welcomed by His Excellency Saqr Ghubash Saeed Ghubash, Speaker of the Federal National Council of the United Arab Emirates.

Her Excellency Anu Vehviläinen said: "Expo 2020 is one of the first occasions where the world is reunited once again to move towards the future in the aftermath of the pandemic. The start of the Expo has already exceeded our expectations. I am convinced that it will achieve remarkable results.

"The Finland Pavilion at Expo 2020 is hosting more than 100 Finnish companies. This is a strong sign of our commitment to reach out to this region and beyond. We are also committed to sharing a future of happiness with the rest of the word.

"In Finland, we have an infrastructure of happiness, based on trust and safety. We focus on education with the same terms for everyone; we have equality. This is partly made possible by innovations, both technological and social. The joy of contentment and satisfaction don't happen automatically. Happiness should be a policy goal.

"A clean and sustainable environment is also one of the key elements of happiness. We have a long tradition of living close to nature – you just need to look at our land area, of which 80 per cent is covered by forests. Thousands of Finnish companies are contributing to an environmentally sound future in a range of sectors. These include the processing of natural resources, energy, smart city solutions, digitalisation and technological innovations. Environmental issues are heading our ambitious circular economy goals which are at the forefront of Finland's vision. Embracing the circular economy goes far beyond recycling; it means ensuring sustainable choices for business and our planet."

In his welcoming speech, His Excellency Najeeb Mohammed Al-Ali, Executive Director, Commissioner General Office, Expo 2020 Dubai, said: "Finland has a long history of active participation in World Expos, beginning with Expo 1900 in Paris ... to its presence in Expo 2020 Dubai today with a strong and rich contribution that we are pleased to have.

"A truly inspirational nation, Finland tops all the charts, from ranking as the happiest country in the world for four years in a row, to being a leader in the fields of education, human development, digitisation and more. Finland has much to share with the world in terms of experience and innovation across the board. It therefore comes as no surprise that the main theme of the exhibition in the Finnish Pavilion is "Sharing Future happiness "where the strengths and expertise of Finland and its partner companies are showcased across various fields."

As part of the celebrations, the Finland Pavilion hosted Circular Economy Forum: Accelerating the Transition Toward a Cleaner, Greener, Happier Future, as the country continues a process of reforming its economic model to enhance sustainability and transform the way citizens and businesses interact with our planet's natural resources. The event featured a welcome message from Ville Skinnari, Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade of Finland, a panel discussion with a number of experts in the field and an interview with Petri Ryöppy, Exhibition Director of the pavilion.

National and Honour Days at Expo 2020 Dubai are moments to celebrate each of its 200-plus International Participants, shining a light on their culture and achievements and showcasing their pavilions and programming. Each celebration features a flag-raising ceremony at the Stage of Nations in Al Wasl Plaza, followed by speeches and cultural performances.

The Finland Pavilion is located in Expo 2020's Mobility District, and is called 'Snow Cape'. Its cubic 1,867 sqm pavilion operates under the theme 'Sharing Future Happiness' – based on the symbiosis of people, nature and technology. Visitors will experience Finland's key strengths: nature and sustainability, education and know-how, and functionality and well-being.

At first glance, the pavilion is a simple one: a reflection of the simple and relaxed Finnish lifestyle. Visitors will find themselves in a deep circular gorge surrounded by the gentle lapping sounds of shallow water pools, in homage to 'the land of a thousand lakes.'

In keeping with the aims of Expo 2020, the Finland Pavilion aims to educate visitors about the impact of their environmental choices. Avoiding waste by recycling scarce resources, is just one of the ways the Nordic nation is making strides in sustainability. Finland is also the first country to create a circular economy roadmap in the world, aiming to transition to a non-waste model by 2025.

Running until 31 March 2022, Expo 2020 has invited visitors from across the planet to join the making of a new world in a six-month celebration of human creativity, innovation, progress and culture.

Source: Expo 2020 Dubai

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