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Saudis cool being No. 2

THE top official of the Saudi Arabia Pavilion is not unduly worried that the Oil Pavilion in Puxi has replaced his pavilion as the Expo's most popular attraction with the longest waiting time for visitors.

Abdulrahman al-Shaikh, the Saudi commissioner general to the Expo, said: "It doesn't matter to me at all," whether the Saudi pavilion was the most popular. The most important thing was to make every visitor enjoy the trip.

"If people like it and feel happy, they will tell others to come and that makes us more popular," he told Shanghai Daily yesterday.

The Expo site's official broadcast began listing the Oil Pavilion as the top attraction from early this month with the waiting time of more than six hours. The Saudi Pavilion, which was the most popular with the longest waiting time of up to nine hours, dropped to second.

Shaikh said the reduction in waiting time from nine hours to the current 3.5 was owing to the efforts of the pavilion operators.

He said they would begin presenting pins with the Saudi Pavilion logo to visitors soon.

The pavilion has designed the new pin and had already placed orders for them after they found another set of limited-edition pins for senior officials at the pavilion being offered for sale on the Internet for 10,000 yuan (US$1,475).

Shaikh said people should not sell the pins, because the pin - two gold swords supporting a palm tree - is the symbol of the Saudi Kingdom and had nothing to do with the Expo pavilion.

Inside the pavilion, visitors can watch a 15-minute movie about the Middle Eastern country on a 360-degree, 1,600-square-meter screen, said to be the world's largest theater.

Saudi officials originally planned to divide the boat-shaped pavilion into three levels, each with a big hall with various exhibits, but worried that visitors would be forced to stay for long and would have less time to visit other pavilions, Shaikh said.


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