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Crowds queue for popular pavilions

VISITORS to World Expo Shanghai headed for their favorite pavilions and patiently stood in lines that sometimes circled the buildings. Following are some of the highlights of the first day of operation.

Saudi popular

The Moon Boat Saudi Arabia Pavilion, known as the most expensive foreign pavilion at Expo and the second largest after the China Pavilion, was a crowd favorite after it opened to public at noon.

Prince Mansour bin Mit'ib announced the opening of the pavilion with dozens of Saudi performers cheering and drumming at the entrance.

"We must achieve our aim through Expo to enhance our friendly relationship with Chinese people, no matter how much we spend," said the prince.

He greeted and shook hands with Chinese visitors to the pavilion who had waited hours to get in. There were so many the queue circled the pavilion five times.

The pavilion features a 1,600-square-meter IMAX screen, said to be the largest in the world.

Visitors stand on a moving belt to watch a 15-minute movie that makes them feel like they're flying over the country's deserts and cities.

The organizer plans to install more reservation machines to shorten the waiting time to 90 minutes, said Mohammad Al Ghamdi who is in charge of operations.

Visitors yesterday waited more than two hours.

Other popular pavilions in the Asian section included the Japan and the United Arab Emirates pavilions. The Japan Pavilion, featuring "harmony between the human heart and technology," opened to the public about 9:30am yesterday.

The performances of Partner Robot, which plays violin with great dexterity, drew audience applause after it walked onto a stage and completed the Chinese folk item "Lily Song."

A tour to the pavilion would take about 60 minutes to complete.

The United Arab Emirates Pavilion made its debut and attracted large crowds.

The pavilion is running a quiz for the duration of Expo and each month a dozen names will be drawn, each winning a trip to the country.

Queues also formed at the Nepal, Pakistan and Israel pavilions, and the Black Drum Band from South Korea attracted crowds.

Product features

The 3,000-square-meter Malaysia Pavilion attracted visitors with a cheerful lion dance.

The pavilion displays a series of products with artistic designs, including hand-woven clothes, high-quality handbags, wallets and shoes.

Visitors can also play mini golf and enjoy Formula One thrills through video and audio installations set in a green surrounding.

On the occasion of the 36th anniversary of the Sino-Malaysian diplomatic relationship, Minister for Tourism Dato Sri Dr Ng Yen Yen said the participation in Expo marked a new development in friendship between the countries.

See to Chile

The Well of Antipodes aroused the interest of visitors to the Chile Pavilion. The "well" is connected online and around the clock to the country's capital, Santiago.

Through the "well," visitors can view the city and see Chilean people greeting them from the other side of the world.

"My father and I were touched when I saw people waving to me through the screen in the well," said a visitor surnamed Fan. "I felt so close to the people there, although I didn't know them."

The Poland Pavilion attracted many Chinese visitors with its distinctive paper-cut shape.

Many visitors were also surprised to learn about the Polish dragon, the pavilion's animated and interactive tour guide which is similar to the Chinese dragon.

The biggest attraction in the Mexico Pavilion was the painting "Self-Portrait" by Frida Kahlo.

Some visitors said they had been longing to see the painting since they had watched the movie "Frida."

Many parents waited outside the Swedish Pavilion while their children had fun in its colorful playground.

Other pavilions also generated a warm response from visitors, such as the Greek and Finland pavilions.

Many VIPs from Europe visited the site, including European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, and ministers of economy or commerce from many European countries.

"It is important for the EU as a whole and each member state to be present because China is the fastest growing economy in the world now," said Barroso as he enjoyed the egg tart in the Portugal Pavilion.

Signs clean-up

A solution to visual pollution is offered by the Sao Paulo Pavilion in the Urban Best Practices Area.

It shows how Brazil's largest city introduced the Clean City Act in 2007 and stripped out tens of thousands of glaring street signs, billboards and shop facades in a popularly successful campaign.

Visitors entering the pavilion are first confused by a chaos of ads and noise - a reflection of Sao Paulo before it banned outdoor advertising.

Next they come to a clean and airy space with video and photos showing how the city has improved.

Pavilion designer Felipe Tassara said: "Sao Paulo is huge and has all the problems of any city of that size. But it never stops thinking about its future and that is what we are trying to express in the pavilion."

The Taipei Pavilion was one of the popular centers in the Urban Best Practices Area.

With Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin and his Shanghai counterpart Han Zheng attending its opening ceremony, most visitors had to wait more than one hour to get a glimpse inside.

Also, the Hamburg Pavilion was a favorite, especially for visitors who had suffered under the day's scorching sun.

The pavilion has an environmental protection theme and is able to radiate heat and turn the inside cool without needing air-conditioning.


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