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Putting on a brave face

THE pavilions of countries suffering from war or other forms of violence have proven to be popular attractions as they try to showcase the beautiful aspects that still exist despite the bloodshed.

Expo visitors have been attracted to the pavilions of Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan have learned that there is a lot more to these nations than just war or unrest.

"I know people will think of terrorism and war when talking about Afghanistan, but our country also has a long history and profound culture, that's what we want to exhibit," said Haji Omer Rahimy, director of the Afghanistan Pavilion.

The pavilion has attracted 30,000 visitors every day, similar to that of the popular Saudi Arabia Pavilion.

The more than 450 exhibits in the pavilion belong to Rahimy. He said several generations of his family have collected the items. The exhibits include a 1,200-year-old medicine mortar and a 400-year-old silver basin.

Long queues usually form in front of the Iraq Pavilion in Zone A, which is rare for pavilions in Asia Joint Pavilion II.

Cindy Tang, director manager of the Iraq Pavilion, said the Expo was important for the nation as it could learn valuable lessons about rebuilding.

As a sign of the ongoing problems in Iraq, Tang said she witnessed bomb attacks while in Baghdad preparing for Expo.

The 380-square-meter pavilion attracts 25,000 visitors every day. Its theme is "Next City," symbolizing the country's wish for a better future for its people.

Despite the positive aspects these pavilions showcase about their respective countries, an official at the Somalia Pavilion said it's depressing when visitors are only interested in the violence.

The official, who declined to be named, said that every day numerous people will ask, "Do you have some pirate exhibits?"

The pavilion in the Joint Africa Pavilion in Zone C has been a hot venue and an employee said it was mainly due to the media coverage of piracy in Somalia.

Nonetheless, the pavilion focuses on the country's people, costumes, currency and culture.

Four models of camels have also proven popular with people posing for photographs. Somalia has more than 6 million camels, the most in the world.


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