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By Alexander Cornwell

DUBAI: Expo Dubai visitors hoping to see the 3-D twin of Michelangelo's David in all its glory at Italy's pavilion may be disappointed as only the statue's head is visible to the public in a display slammed by some Italian media as self-censorship.

The head and neck of the six-metre-tall reproduction of the Renaissance statue are showcased in an octagonal structure at first-floor level while the genitalia and legs are visible at a lower level reserved for functions and select visitors.

Organisers of Italy's pavilion denied suggestions in Italian media that they had deliberately tried to hide the statue's genitalia due to religious and social sensitivities in the Gulf Arab state and the predominantly Muslim region.

"We planned to position David's statue the way it is now many, many months ago," commissioner Paolo Glisenti said.

"We took the David statue here... at the end of April in the middle of (the holy fasting month of) Ramadan, by the way, in the presence of many high officials of the Emirati and Italian government."

Artistic director Davide Rampello said the aim was to provide a new experience by allowing visitors to see the David at eye level, whereas art lovers have to look up at the original statue at the Galleria dell'Accademia museum in Florence.

"It's good like this because we can imagine the rest," said Sophie Lestrat, 44, a French national visiting the Expo. "We don't know what we can see further down."

"He's beautiful, a beautiful man," she added.

'BEAUTY CONNECTS PEOPLE'

Creating the replica using one of the world's largest 3D printers involved 40 hours of digital scanning of the original 16th-century marble artwork with finishing touches completed by hand, according to the Expo website.

"The reproduction was done with very sophisticated technology used in space and finished by artisans in Florence that covered the statue in marble powder," Glisenti said.

Based on the theme 'Beauty connects people', the Italy pavilion is among almost 200 exhibitors at Expo 2020 Dubai, the first world fair to be held in the Middle East. The fair expects to attract 25 million visits after having been delayed for a year by the coronavirus pandemic.

One Italian visitor, Simone Spinato, 23, checking out his country's pavilion while on a visit to Dubai, said the statue remained an inspiration.

"I like it a lot because it is our history and inspires us to do better and better," he said.