The world fair, the first of its kind in the Middle East, was delayed by COVID. Now it promises to be bigger and more relevant than ever. Brunswick’s Simon Pluckrose reports.
In just a few months, the United Arab Emirates will become the first country in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia to host a World Expo in the 170-year history of the mega-events.
Kicking off on October 1, 2021—a year later than planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic—Expo 2020 Dubai will convene 190-plus countries, as well as multilateral organizations, businesses and educational establishments, for what organizers say will be a “visually striking, intellectually enlightening and emotionally inspiring” event.
World Expos, officially known as International Registered Exhibitions, have been held every five years since the first in 1851 at The Crystal Palace in London. Their aim is to explore solutions to the pressing challenges of our time. Each has an overall theme—Expo 2020’s is “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.” In recent decades, the Expos have typically welcomed tens of millions of visitors during their six-month duration.
Expo 2020 Dubai, which runs for 182 days, will be the largest attraction ever in the Arab world, home to some 60 live events a day and 50-plus global cuisines from 200 food and beverage outlets spread across its 4.38 square kilometer campus.
For the first time in World Expo history, every participating country has its own pavilion. Fittingly, the new date coincides with the UAE’s Golden Jubilee, which will make the UAE’s own pavilion an even bigger draw for visitors. The structure, the site’s largest pavilion at 15,000 square meters, resembles a falcon in flight with moving hydraulic “wings.”
Before it was postponed, organizers had predicted that Expo 2020 Dubai would attract some 25 million visitors. And, despite restrictions on travel, they are still hopeful of a strong turnout. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, believes that the Expo can send a message to the world about overcoming adversity.