I had the pleasure of visiting Dubai Expo 2020 last week, and although having previously seen numerous Expo exhibitions, the most recent of which was Expo Milano in Italy, the Dubai Expo enthralled me in every way. True, I didn’t expect Dubai to offer anything traditional, but I certainly didn’t anticipate it to deliver something akin to fantasy.
As I walked through the pavilions of the participating countries, I saw the bright side of the world and the promise of our future. It is, indeed, a glimpse into the future, a peep into what life will be like on Earth in five, ten, or more years.
It showcases how the world gathered once more in the largest event held in the Middle East region as a whole, if not the world, since the pandemic began.
I am familiar with Dubai and have followed and even contributed to its remarkable urban growth trend over the previous two decades, but that is one thing, and Expo Dubai is quite another. The exhibition, which spans 4.3km2 or more than 600 football fields, showcases the incredible way in which this piece of the desert has transformed into a piece of the future in just a few years.
With Al Wasl Dome, the world’s largest unsupported dome and greatest 360-degree viewing area, Dubai was able to implement a unique architecture and an unparalleled achievement.
Of course, I didn’t get to see all 192 pavilions at the Expo, let alone all the unique ones that focused on themes like opportunity, mobility, and sustainability. The UN Forum, which includes numerous activities and creative artistic performances on the Sustainable Development Goals, is hosted in one of them, the “Mission Possible” pavilion.
Many of the pavilions appealed to me, particularly the Youth Pavilion, which was developed and run solely by young people as an open creative space and a centre for youth activities at the World Expo.
The Sustainability Pavilion is entirely powered by solar energy. It features 120 electronic trees that form a rotating umbrella that follows the sun from sunrise to sunset. The pavilion also has a shaded area known as Ghaf Street, named after the traditional trees that grow in the Emirates desert and provide a home for many insects and mammals.
I must also express my admiration for Bahrain’s pavilion at Expo Dubai. This presented the kingdom to the world in the best possible way thanks to the efforts of Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa and her team at the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities.
The pavilion, themed “Intensity Weaves Opportunities,” showcases Bahrain’s facets of long-standing civilisation, history, and economy.
I was one of the millions of people around the world who watched the Dubai Expo’s magnificent opening ceremony on television. When I went there, I saw how the UAE succeeded in creating, with the Dubai Expo, a unique event, a gateway to a better future for everybody, and a tool to help shape the world’s features in the post-pandemic age.
The emirate of Dubai has spent an estimated $7 billion on the event, with the goal of attracting 25 million visitors over the following six months to stimulate tourism and investment.
The previous edition of the exhibition, hosted by the Italian city of Milan in 2015, drew about 21m visitors.
The UAE is expected to attract far more than that, especially given reports that the UAE’s $7bn investment in “Expo 2020 Dubai” will yield an economic return of more than $30bn over the long term.
At Expo Dubai, I witnessed the efforts of 134 teams representing 95 nationalities that collaborated to establish a leading worldwide event.
I’m looking forward to attending a major event at the Dubai Expo, which will be the celebration of the UAE’s golden jubilee, which will take place over the course of a month beginning in early November.
Congratulations to our brothers in the UAE on their accomplishment, as well as to us as Arabs.