As Baku bids to host the World Expo 2025, young Azerbaijanis are embracing the bid’s theme of ‘Developing Human Capital, Building a Better Future’. Here, as part of a new series exclusively online, Sophie Breitsameter speaks to Maryam Majidova, a member of the youth group supporting Baku’s bid to host the Expo about her experience so far
In Azerbaijan, over 65 per cent of the population is under the age of 40 and nearly 30 per cent is under the age of 20. It therefore comes as no surprise that the youth of the country are playing a major part in Baku’s bid to host the World Expo 2025. A group of 25 talented individuals, dubbed the ‘Group of 25’, are working alongside those responsible for the bid to champion the country’s vibrant youth demographic.
Their multifaceted responsibilities are varied, and range from joining important delegates in Paris for the bid’s official presentation to travelling across Azerbaijan to educate their peers on what a successful bid would mean for them. This group is integral to promoting key messages through social media and encouraging the youth of Azerbaijan to spread the message of the bid: ‘Developing Human Capital, Building a Better Future’.
Twenty four-year old Maryam Majidova, President of AISEC, from Baku is passionate about being involved in both her local community and through her work as Secretary General of the National Assembly of Youth Organisations of the Republic of Azerbaijan since the age of 15, she has represented her country in over 37 countries. We speak to her about how the bid is involving the youth of Baku, and what it – and they – can do for the country.
This is an exciting time for Baku – what has been most thrilling for you, personally?
My favourite moment so far has to be sitting right at the front of the stage as we made our presentation at the Bureau International des Expositions in Paris at its 163rd General Assembly in June earlier this year. I was so proud to be able to show everyone in the room that we have the capability, the vision – and, most importantly, the passion – to tell a new story at World Expo 2025.
What would a successful bid mean to you?
I truly believe in our theme of ‘Developing Human Capital, Building a Better Future’. A successful bid would mean so many things, from immediate gains such as increased employment opportunities to more long term and far-reaching gains, such as the future development of Baku and its surrounding areas.
If Baku wins the bid, what do you hope the legacy of Expo 2025 would be?
The boost to our public profile – for Baku as a city, and Azerbaijan as a whole, would be immense. It would be a real boon for commerce as well as tourism and showcase our unique country to the world.
How would you describe Baku in just three words?
City of Opportunities
What is your favourite thing about Baku?
I like to walk around Baku’s old town. I always discover something new there, whether it’s something about our history, architecture or the arts scene there. It’s so special, it’s like walking through an entirely different world.
What do you think makes Baku unique?
Our tolerance as a nation and the ability to transition our culture from old to new and our open, welcoming spirit towards other countries and cultures.
What are you most proud of?
I am proud of my country’s rapid development and the fact that over the last 27 years young people have been represented in every major event the country has hosted. Azerbaijan really makes sure that a platform is provided for youth and that the voices of the country’s future generations are heard.
What’s a common misconception about Baku?
That we are an oil rich nation choking on pollution and poor air quality. Baku is beautiful, and the country has much to offer – starting with the people and their warm hospitality. I hope this bid, whether we win or not, helps show that to the world.
Image courtesy of Expo 2025 Baku Azerbaijan and Jonathan Glynn-Smith