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Welcoming the world

Set to open a year from now, Expo 2020 Dubai will be a six-month celebration of creativity, innovation and culture from every corner of the globe

It’s been nearly six years since Dubai won the right to host the World Expo and HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, promised that the emirate would “astonish the world” with its offering. Since that declaration, details about the event have gradually been revealed and there is a growing sense of excitement, especially given the city’s propensity for the extraordinary. And with just one year to go until Expo 2020 Dubai opens its gates on October 20 next year, the world’s eyes are set on the emirate. Those behind the scenes are buffing up their offering to welcome the millions of people from all around the world expected to visit.

Taking place every five years, the World Expo serves as a launchpad for innovative ideas and creations. Dating all the way back to the inaugural edition with London’s Great Exhibition of 1851, the six-month celebration has seen the unveiling of the Eiffel Tower, the Seattle Space Needle, the first television and even Heinz Tomato Ketchup. Similarly, Expo 2020 Dubai hopes to be a platform for more iconic launches. Not only will the event be a showcase for some of the world’s most forward-thinking innovations, from healthcare to sustainability, but it will host intellectual gatherings and conferences, competitions and more. The platform will also see the brightest minds in the world get together to solve some of the biggest challenges facing the planet today, from food shortage to climate change, under the theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’. 

During Expo 2020 Dubai’s 173-day run until April 10, 2021, the emirate will host 192 participating countries, from Turkmenistan to Australia and beyond. Each nation will bring highlights of their own cultures from performing arts to food. Visitors can experience more than 60 live entertainment events every day including poetry recitals, fashion shows, performances from A-list artists, comedy acts, mindfulness sessions and extreme sports.

THE WORLD IN ONE PLACE Organisers expect the Middle East’s first-ever expo to attract 25 million visits, equivalent to the population of Australia. Around 70 percent of visitors are expected to attend from outside the UAE. The country’s first-ever event of this scale, it will also see the largest proportion of international visitors in the 168-year history of World Expos. With 192 nations represented, there will be festivities across the cultures during the event’s six-month run. In addition to National Days, there will also be special celebrations including Christmas and Diwali with unity at the heart of the event. 

A CULINARY JOURNEY An extraordinary gastronomic experience awaits at Expo 2020 Dubai with more than 200 dining outlets set to cater to visitors from around the world. World-famous chefs will also descend on the emirate to offer their innovative culinary take, blending everything from Mexican to Arabic flavours to create unique combinations. Organisers estimate that almost 300,000 meals will be served per day – enough to feed every person in Barbados. Visitors can also explore the future of food, with Expo 2020 Dubai incorporating robotics, augmented reality and virtual reality into its dining offering. 

A CULTURAL CELEBRATION One of Expo 2020 Dubai’s major events will be a UAE premier – the launch of the first Emirati opera. It will be yet another cultural milestone for the country, which in recent years has seen the launch of the likes of Louvre Abu Dhabi and Dubai Opera. Written by local talent and performed by a global cast, ‘Al Wasl’ explores the UAE’s rich heritage and innovative spirit. 

ENTERTAINING ACTIVITIES While the event will address serious topics surrounding the world’s biggest challenges, there will be no shortage of fun-filled experiences. One feature, for example, will enable visitors to try a game of high-stakes pinball with the ‘Mini-Earth’ ball at Terra within the Sustainability Pavilion. The pavilion, on the whole, is designed to take visitors on an emotional journey through forests and oceans, encouraging participants to reflect on their relationship with nature. 

PLENTY OF RETAIL THERAPY It wouldn’t be Dubai if shopping didn’t feature at least once in the plan. At Expo 2020 Dubai, visitors can travel the world and get souvenirs to match across the 192 country pavilions. Some local highlights from Dubai will include expo-inspired chocolate by Mirzam, camel soap by the Camel Soap Factory and the local favourite, Bateel dates. 

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