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Interview with Erik Linquier

Commissioner General for France at the Dubai World Fair, Erik Linquier has been Chairman of Cofrex (the French exhibitions company) since its creation in 2018. Magistrate in the Court of Auditors, Economic Advisor for the French Embassy in Canada, Secretary General of the Directorate General of the Treasury, he has also worked for Enedis and Accenture.

What are the challenges facing the French presence at the Dubai World Fair?

E. L. Our pavilion is in the section devoted to “Mobility”, a flagship for French excellence, which brings together the main world leaders in the sector. The ideas coming out of Dubai on reinventing the urban model are of interest to French companies and feed into the thought processes of large cities and megacities. Additionally, the dynamic relationship between France and the Emirates is another obvious reason for our presence.

It is also the first World Fair in this area of strong economic growth, where there are numerous and fast changes concerning all city professions. Finally, the theme Smart city, sustainable city makes the event unmissable. The challenge is to bring together political, civil and economic players to develop this theme with relevant demonstrations, so it was essential for us to be present and active.

What is the vision for the French Pavillion?

E. L. Concerning mobility and the sustainable city, we have an offer that is more than just the sum of its technological parts. Our players are able to offer global solutions that cover all issues (environment, energy, governance), and to come up with innovative models, like those promoted by the French Mobility Orientation law, on a regional scale.

In addition, because of our historic model of outsourcing public services, French companies excel in putting the user at the centre of the offer. And when it comes to sustainable city models, innovation also lies in service provision. The specific nature of our French model lies in developing a sustainable offer that is closer to needs, and therefore more acceptable. So, it is very interesting to spread this approach.


"Innovation, in terms of models for sustainable cities, also lies in the provision of services. Our companies have much to offer in this field."

Erik Linquier
Commissioner General for France at the Dubai World Fair and Chairman of Cofrex

What advantages can large French groups offer that set them apart from the competition?

E. L. Large groups can offer two unique accelerators: their research and development and their culture of working together. Another thing that sets them apart is the multi-modal nature of the mobility offer, and that they are able to meet the multiple expectations of both users and cities. This enables them to tackle the problem of solo car use and offer reliable alternatives for a more sustainable city.

For 6 months, large groups as well as SMEs, VSEs and start-ups will present their innovations at the Pavilion’s permanent exhibition, which will welcome around 6 million visitors. They will also be putting on B2B-oriented events, where they will show how they are meeting the UN’s sustainable development goals. Finally, speakers representing French companies will contribute to events at the Fair. Together, this provides a rare opportunity to bring together such a large number of relevant international players on these topics.

What can you tell us about the role of Cofrex and sustainable management within the framework of such an event?

E. L. The role of Cofrex is inspired by the Swiss, German and Spanish models, in which an institution is responsible for steering the country’s participation in international events. It is about taking the concept of attractiveness to its logical conclusion.

Competitiveness is also played out at the level of the country’s overall image. And, as proof of our sustainability, take the Pavilion itself as an example: it is designed to be dismantled after the Fair and will later be installed on the CNES campus in Toulouse.

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