SHANGHAI, Aug. 4 (Xinhua) -- A huge attraction at the Shanghai Expo is a large boat-like structure anchored on stilts that forms the centerpiece of the Saudi Arabia Pavilion.
The "Moon Boat" represents "the ancient relations between the Arab world and China" and also the Silk Road, an ancient trade route that stretches from China to the Middle East, said Dr Abdulrahman Al. Shaikh, commissioner general for the Saudi Pavilion at the ongoing Expo.
The "Boat" pavilion, a combined effort by Chinese and Saudi designers,covering a total area of 6,000 square meters, resembles the hull of a boat while also shaped like a half moon. On its deck palm trees grow. The pavilion's 1,600-square-meter IMAX screen, presenting short films, is the largest cinema screen in the world.
Abdulrahman said one of the attractions is the Chinese-Saudi Friendship Garden. During the last visit to Saudi Arabia by Chinese President Hu Jintao, he said, "we planted in Riyadh, the capital, a Chinese Saudi Friendship Garden," so it was a good symbol that "we had another garden in China to enhance these good relations."
He said its message is to show visitors what the country has in terms of heritage, culture and history, and what the nation has become over the past years.
In the Saudi pavilions visitors are shown "how the nation evolved, how it changed from being dispersed to becoming united," he said. "We were once tribes but now we are a united kingdom; we had big tents and small houses, but now we have very modern cities with highrises."
Abdulrahman refuted some media reports saying that the Saudi Pavilion was the most expensive one at the Expo. "I can assure you that it's not the most expensive. The actual cost is very much below the number I read in the newspaper."
He said the Saudi Pavilion staff were "working hard to reduce queuing time" and trying to introduce a reservation system for visitors which would "make their journey more comfortable."
He said the pavilion at the Shanghai Expo had become "the most successful Saudi Pavilion from all our past experiences, in every sense, regarding visitors, media coverage and popularity."
China and Saudi Arabia celebrated their 20th anniversary of diplomatic ties at the Saudi Arabia Pavilion in late July.
Zhu Weilie, director of the Middle East Institute of Shanghai International Studies University, says the Saudi Pavilion is distinctive as it use high-tech to showcase the country's latest achievements.
China currently has more than 100 ongoing projects and more than 20,000 contract workers in Saudi Arabia who are increasingly involved in the designing and building of roads, bridges and other infrastructure in this Arab country, Zhu said, adding "the sound relations between the two nations led to the popularity of the Saudi Pavilion."