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Video: Mendel exhibition wows thousands in Dubai

Until 15 March visitors to EXPO 2020 in Dubai had the chance to explore Mendel 200, an exhibit about the father of genetics organized by Masaryk University. As many as 10,000 people a day visited the exhibition.

The Czech pavilion was visited by a member of the ruling family of the United Arab Emirates.

The Czech pavilion welcomed a member of the United Arab Emirates’ ruling family and leading figure at the International Trade and Development Agency, Sheik Mohamed Bin Ahmed Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan. He came to see the Czech national exhibition, titled “The Country for the Future”, a day after the UAE minister of education, Hussain Bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi visited.

Like thousands of other visitors, both were delighted by the exhibit. “We told visitors, who only knew about Mendel from their biology classes, about his life and about how a polar research station was named after him and what is done there. We described to them the events planned to celebrate Mendel’s 200th birthday, and we even invited them to Brno. Visitors were also impressed by the ongoing research focused on mapping Mendel’s genome,” says Hana Svozilová from MU’s CEITEC institute, who last week acted as a guide for visitors to the Mendel 200 exhibition.

She says that many did not know that Mendel was from the Czech Republic. “Occasionally, a very passionate fan of Mendel would show up. One Spaniard took a picture of every part of our exhibition, a smile on his face the whole time, and thanked us for this wonderful opportunity. He said he really loves Mendel. And one teacher told my colleague Filip Pardy that she was getting goosebumps hearing more about Mendel because until that point everything she knew about him came from books, but that this was an extraordinary encounter with the pioneering scientist,” says Svozilová.

She also says that foreign visitors most frequently asked where Mendel was born and what he discovered about genetics. “Sometimes, people would ask whether his glasses on display were real or fake, as they seemed too small, and how big Mendel really was,” says the researcher.

Dubai and EXPO 2020 were also visited by Milan Konečný from the Department of Geography of MU’s Faculty of Natural Sciences. “It was my sixth trip to a world’s fair; therefore, I can compare and say that Masaryk University has never been as visible as it has been in Dubai. In the Czech pavilion the university is wonderfully represented by the Mendel exhibition, and I was also delighted by the display about the Antarctic station. Masaryk University set the intellectual standard very high at EXPO 2020,” says Konečný.

Currently, Masaryk University is being represented at EXPO 2020 by Vice-rector for Research and Doctoral Studies Šárka Pospíšilová.

The city of Brno, the South Moravian Region, and the Společně organization worked with MU to put the Mendel 200 exhibition together.