As it happened: COP28 UAE 'delivers history', adopts decision on day 1

The UAE commits to contributing $100 million to the newly established loss-and-damage fund as part of climate response


Kirstin Bernabe


Nasreen Abdulla


Neeraj Murali




Angel Tesorero


Waheed Abbas


Meher Dhanjal

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Published: Thu 30 Nov 2023, 9:30 AM

Last updated: Thu 30 Nov 2023, 8:49 PM

The UAE has identified its North Star for COP28: To hold every country and every stakeholder accountable to keep 1.5ºC within reach. The mission began today — with the world coming together at Expo City Dubai.

About 180 heads of states; 97,000 delegates, experts, observers and climate activists; and more than 400,000 UAE residents and environmental advocates are taking part in the highly anticipated UN climate summit. The annual COP conference is being held from today until December 12.

History was made in Dubai on Thursday at COP28 when the loss and damage fund for the vulnerable countries was agreed on the first day of the UN climate conference with a total commitment of over $420 million. The UAE took the lead contributing $100 million to the fund.

“We’ve delivered history today. The first time a decision has been adopted on day 1 of any COP. And the speed at which we have done so is also historic. Getting this done demonstrates the hard work of so many, particularly members of the transitional committee who worked tirelessly to get us to this point. This is evidence that we can deliver. COP28 can deliver,” said Dr Sultan Al Jaber, president, COP28.

Stay up to date with the latest news. Follow KT on WhatsApp Channels.

Khaleej Times was on the ground at Expo City Dubai to bring real-time updates as the mega event opened to the world.

Watch the opening ceremony here:

8.49pm: King Charles to open World Climate Summit tomorrow

Tomorrow, His Majesty King Charles is scheduled to deliver the opening speech at the World Climate Summit, being held as part of COP28.

8.45pm: 'Use the next two weeks wisely', Sultan Al Jaber says

The COP President asked delegates and officials to use the next two weeks wisely.

“Take a no-nonsense approach with no delays. This will restore faith. Let us bring back multilateralism and deliver some good news to the world. Let us rise above our differences for future generations. I am calling you all to unite, act and deliver,” he said.

“The next two weeks will not be easy. Let's remember our task is not only about negotiating text or putting words on paper. It is about improving lives. It is about people.”

8.21pm: How delegates are showcasing culture, nation at COP28

Thousands of heads of states, government delegates, business leaders, climate scientists, indigenous peoples, and other experts will converge in Dubai for COP28 that kicked off at Expo City on Thursday.

Safiatou Nana had travelled on her maiden trip to the UAE from Burkina Faso and came wearing the traditional hat from her tribe. “It is a symbol of our tribe and I wanted to make sure it was seen on a global stage,” she said. She paired it with her Africa-shaped earrings.

Read more about other delegates and volunteers here.

8.16pm: COP28 UAE can make a difference, US climate envoy says

US special climate envoy John Kerry is optimistic that COP28 – which officially opened at Expo City Dubai on Thursday – will deliver positive results in climate change mitigation.

Speaking during a chance interview with Khaleej Times, the former US Secretary of State said: “I’m very hopeful that this COP can really make a difference.”

Kerry is attending the UN Climate Summit to promote the US international strategy for commercialising nuclear fusion power that reportedly has advantage over the current nuclear fission plants that split atoms. Nuclear fusion, on the other hand, is a cheap source of carbon-free electricity that does not produce long-lasting radioactive waste.

8.02pm: President of Egypt arrives in UAE to participate in COP28

President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi of the Arab Republic of Egypt arrived in the UAE today to participate in the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28).

President El-Sisi was welcomed by Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

The UAE will host the COP28 meetings at Expo City Dubai from November 30 to December 12, 2023.

7.56pm: House of Sustainability at COP28 takes visitors through UAE's past, present and future

As COP28 kicked off today, the UAE House of Sustainability was unveiled at the Expo City on Thursday. Previously known as the UAE Pavilion, it offers a multisensory experience showcasing the length and breadth of the UAE’s journey towards a net zero future.

Introducing visitors to the history and culture of the UAE, the house offers glimpses into the sustainability practices of Emiratis that have been handed down generations while also painting a picture of how the future will look like for the country. Take a look at some highlights of the house here.

7.47pm: Sheikh Mohamed, King Charles III witness launch of the Business and Philanthropy Climate Forum

UAE President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and King Charles III of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland witnessed the launch of the Business and Philanthropy Climate Forum as part of UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) events at Expo City Dubai.

The forum featured the participation of over 1,000 CEOs and philanthropists from around 80 countries and was hosted under the COP28 Presidency and the Sustainable Markets Initiative. The forum brought together business leaders, philanthropists, and policymakers to ensure their involvement and cooperation in finding tangible and effective solutions that deliver decisive outcomes. – Wam

7.41pm: Other countries pledge to Loss and Damage Fund

Other countries promising to contribute to the Loss and Damage Fund included Germany, with $100 million; Britain with up to 60 million pounds ($75.89 million); the United States with $17.5 million and Japan with $10 million.

7.20pm: UAE President meets King Charles on COP28 sidelines

President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan met with King Charles III of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28), which commenced today in the UAE.

The President welcomed King Charles III's visit to the UAE and his participation in COP28, expressing appreciation for his efforts in supporting climate and environmental issues. The meeting, which took place at Expo City Dubai, provided a platform to discuss cooperation between the two countries, particularly in the areas of sustainability, environmental protection, and climate action.

King Charles III is scheduled to deliver the opening speech at the Global Climate Action Summit tomorrow as part of COP28. –Wam

7.05pm: Key priorities at the COP28 conference

Here's a snippet of what delegates will be focusing on during this conference:

  • Unifying global efforts to reduce carbon emissions
  • Accelerating efforts to reduce the pace of carbon emissions
  • Promoting the world’s transition towards clean energy and accelerating the green transition
  • Identifying global solutions to limit global temperature rise to 1.5ºC

The global event also highlights urgent action that must be taken on climate change, which includes:

  • Reducing emissions from fossil fuels
  • Improving energy efficiency in buildings and transportation
  • Protecting and restoring ecosystems
  • Increasing funding for mitigation efforts
  • Increasing awareness and promoting sustainable style choices among individuals

6.50pm: 'Simply not enough to be trying to try'

Simon Stiell, a Grenadian politician, emphasises on the impact the climate action conference will have on the planet.

He reminds delegates that there is a human life "...behind every line you work on, every word or comma you wrestle with, here at COP".

6.30pm: ‘Net zero 2050 targets for the first time'

Dr Sultan Al Jaber, the COP28 president, said that this presidency has made a bold choice to proactively engage with oil and gas companies.

“We had many hard discussions. That wasn't easy. But today, many of these companies are committing to zero methane emissions by 2030 for the first time. And now many national oil companies have adopted net zero 2050 targets for the first time. They have stepped up to join this game-changing journey. And I must say, it is not enough. And I know that they can do much more. They can lead the way.”

He called on all industries to engage, innovate, modernise and invest in clean technologies.

6.25pm: 'Great burden of responsibility'

The COP28 President stressed that, despite our differences, now is the moment we unite with a great burden of responsibility.

6.17pm: Sheikh Hamdan welcomes delegates attending COP28

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai has tweeted welcoming delegates to the climate conference. He said:

"A warm welcome goes out to all the delegates attending the COP28 conference, hosted by the UAE in Expo City Dubai. The UAE has emerged as a global role model in embracing sustainable practices and spearheading the development of an environmentally conscious future.

"As we progress forward, we remain committed to introducing pioneering initiatives that effectively combat climate change and lay the foundation for a sustainable tomorrow. The challenges faced by our planet require collective action from individual and governments worldwide, and the COP28 conference is set to be a powerful catalyst for driving that global change."

6.09pm: Masdar produces 20GW of clean energy, enough to power 5.25 million homes worldwide

Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, Chief Executive Officer of Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar), doubled its capabilities by 200 times with the launch of the 2,000MW Al Dhafra Solar PV Plant, as part of the UAE's strategic plans to ensure energy security, diversify its energy sources, and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

The CEO of Masdar said that, over seventeen years, Masdar's projects have expanded reaching various parts of the world, with the company's current project portfolio producing more than 20 gigawatts (GW) in 40 countries across six continents, and valued at a total of over Dh110 billion.

These projects contribute to reducing carbon emissions by 30 million tonnes annually, which is equivalent to powering 5.25 million homes or taking 6.5 million cars off the roads, he explained. – Wam

6.03pm: ‘This is the kind of leadership we expect from host country’; Greenpeace hails UAE at COP28

Ghiwa Nakat, executive director of Greenpeace Mena, welcomed the agreement on the loss and damage fund as a vital first step towards ensuring communities get the support they desperately need.

“We also welcome the UAE's pledge of $100 million to the fund as every contribution matters to communities suffering from climate-related loss and damage. This is the kind of leadership we expect from the host country and we urge other countries to follow suit,” said Nakat.

“Rich developed countries must step up with major contributions to the new Fund, and polluting industries must also be made to pay. If the COP Presidency can build on this with a consensus agreement on a just phasing out of fossil fuels, COP28 will indeed be a historic event!” she added.

6.01pm: UAE President meets with heads of delegations at COP28

5.55pm: Journalists come into the city

Thousands of journalists from around the globe have converged in Dubai this week to witness how nations are working towards the common goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

International media and agencies have a large dedicated area in the COP28 Blue Zone to work in, with space available for transmission and broadcasting.

Throughout the venue, journalists are ready to cover every detail of COP28, which is set to be the most inclusive in history.

Some of the most prominent media have separate working cubicles with TV screens to follow each session during COP28.

During the two weeks of COP28, international media will have access to all public areas and meetings held at the conference venue, as well as to events, exhibitions and plenary sessions open to the public, to working sessions (except those restricted to film and video crews) and to the press conferences of the presidency, organisations and delegations. – Wam

Stay tuned to Khaleej Times as we bring you the latest on COP28 in UAE.

5.44pm: Fund finalised for countries hit by disasters like flood and drought

Nearly all the world’s nations on Thursday finalized the creation of a fund to help compensate countries struggling to cope with loss and damage caused by climate change, seen as a major first-day breakthrough at this year’s UN climate conference. Some countries started putting in money right away — if little compared to the overall anticipated needs.

Developing nations had long sought to address the problem of inadequate funding for responding to climate disasters caused by climate change, which hit them especially hard, and for which they have little responsibility — industrialized countries have spewed out carbon emissions that are trapping heat in the atmosphere.

The fund will be hosted by the World Bank for the next four years and the plan is to launch it by 2024. A developing country representative will get a seat on its board.

A number of industrialised nations have insist that all countries should contribute to the fund, and the agreement will prioritize those most vulnerable to climate change — even though any climate-affected community or country is eligible. – AP

5.31pm: Lending a voice to marginalised community

Joan is here in the UAE for the first time to raise awareness on the indigenous people in Philippines.

Photo: Nasreen Abdulla/Khaleej Times
Photo: Nasreen Abdulla/Khaleej Times

She says that indigenous people lose their lands to windmills, even though they are the ones with the least carbon footprint. Joan has been attending every COP conference since 2009 to raise awareness on this issue.

She is now in Dubai to help make indigenous peoples voices heard.

5.27pm: Did you know, you could get a free custom Nol card?

Photo: Neeraj Murali/Khaleej Times
Photo: Neeraj Murali/Khaleej Times

Visitors begin making their way to the metro, as the first day begins coming to a close. In case you didn't know, Blue Zone visitors could get a free custom Nol card! This also does not require a balance, and is free-of-cost for two weeks.

Take a look at the exciting new design:

5.07pm: What makes COP28 different from all other COPs

Irena director-general Francesco La Camera explains what to expect from this climate summit and how it can make a difference:

4.36pm: UAE to contribute $100 million to loss-and-damage fund

4.30pm: History made!

COP28 chief Al Jaber declares: "We’ve delivered history today."

Screengrab from livestream
Screengrab from livestream

The statement comes after all parties have agreed to "operationalise loss and damage — a monumental step towards delivering meaningful support for the world's most vulnerable".

This is the first time that a decision has been adopted on day 1 of any COP, Al Jaber said.

"This is evidence that we can deliver. COP28 can deliver. And colleagues, this now sets a clear ambition for us to deliver a comprehensive GST decision over the next 12 days.”

Here's the full tweet:

4.20pm: Wish you were here, Pope Francis!


Pope Francis joked on Thursday that he was still alive, after cancelling a trip to COP28 in Dubai due to the flu, saying doctors were worried about the 'heat' in the emirate.

"As you can see, I am alive," the 86-year-old pontiff told an audience at the Vatican, according to an official transcript.

"The doctor didn't let me go to Dubai because it's very hot there and you go from the heat to air conditioning. And when you have bronchitis..."

"I thank God it wasn't pneumonia. It's very acute infectious bronchitis," the Argentine pope said in Spanish.

Pope Francis was supposed to help inaugurate the Faith Pavilion at COP28. The pavilion will start its activities tomorrow, marking the first time in COP history that a dedicated space has been created for interfaith dialogue and action on climate change.

4.08pm: These shoes represent children killed in Gaza

While it was anticipated that the Gaza war would inevitably be part of conversations during COP28, we didn't expect that installations — albeit just representations — would be this heartbreaking.

Putting out used shoes to represent children killed in Palestine, climate activists ramp up calls not only for climate justice but a permanent Gaza ceasefire and protection of human rights.

Here's a preview of the display that will be put up on December 1 and 2 at Action Area 5 of the Blue Zone.

3.45pm: A disaster fund for poor countries — what is it and why do we need it now?

As the UN climate conference kicked off, delegates were hoping to clinch an early victory on a disaster fund. The COP28 presidency published a proposal late Wednesday for countries to formally adopt the outlines of a new UN fund for poor countries being hit by climate disasters like extreme flooding or persistent drought.

An early breakthrough on the damage fund — which poorer nations have demanded for years — could help grease the wheels for other compromises to be made during the two-week summit.

Some diplomats said they hoped the draft deal for the fund would be approved quickly, with one delegate describing the possibility of objections at this point as "opening Pandora's box". The deal was crafted over many months of tough negotiations involving wealthy and developing countries.

The European Union has pledged a "substantial" contribution, but wants countries whose economies have boomed in recent decades, like China and the UAE, to follow suit.

"Everyone with the ability to pay should contribute," said EU Climate Commissioner Wopke Hoekstra, who said he wanted to "broaden the donor base beyond the usual suspects, simply because that reflects the reality of 2023." — Reuters

3.31pm: Agenda adopted!

"Let's get to work immediately," Dr Sultan Al Jaber says as he bangs the gavel, signifying that the COP28 presidency's negotiations agenda has been approved.

This ticks off one of the crucial moments in the opening ceremony.

It is "a key moment symbolising multinational unity in the face of climate change, and a critical step in the right direction to set the pathway towards climate ambition to be met," COP28 UAE said in a tweet.

3.13pm: UAE President meets delegates

Right on Day 1, the President, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, started his high-level meetings with presidents and heads of states.

Sheikh Mohamed met with Santiago Peña, President of the Republic of Paraguay; Dr Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia; and Deng Xijun, Special Envoy of the President of China, on the sidelines of COP28.

He discussed bilateral relations, along with regional and international issues of mutual interest.

3.05pm: US climate envoy John Kerry is here

US special climate envoy John Kerry is optimistic that COP28, which officially opened at Expo City Dubai on Thursday, will deliver positive results in climate change mitigation.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, the former US Secretary of State said: “I’m very hopeful that this COP can really make a difference.

Here's a video:

Kerry is attending the UN Climate Summit to promote the US international strategy for commercialising nuclear fusion power that reportedly has advantage over the current nuclear fission plants that split atoms. Nuclear fusion, on the other hand, is said not to produce long-lasting radioactive waste and that makes it a cheap source of carbon-free electricity.

Earlier, Kerry had a meeting with his counterpart Chinese climate envoy, Xie Zhenhua. Kerry was quoted after the meeting saying: "Without China and the US aggressively moving forward to reduce emissions, we don't win this battle (against climate change).

Meanwhile, US Vice-President Kamala Harris confirmed her attendance at COP28. She tweeted on Thursday: “I am heading to COP28 in Dubai this week. I look forward to meeting with our allies and partners as @POTUS (US President Joe Biden) and I continue our work to deliver bold global action to address the climate crisis.”

2.44pm: 'Free Palestine'

At another venue at the Blue Zone, the COP28 Coalition wrapped up their conference with booming chants: "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free".

Dylan Hamilton, a 19-year old climate activist from Scotland, says the youth stands with Palestine.

“Climate justice is inseparable with human rights. There can no climate justice in occupied lands. You don’t need connection to Palestine or Middle East to understand that what is happening in Gaza is wrong. The youth stands with Palestine."

Lidy Nacpil, convenor of the COP28 Coalition and coordinator of Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development, gives more details about what the group does:

2.34pm: 'You have the power to do something unprecedented'

Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, president for COP28, takes the podium to deliver the keynote speech at the opening of the conference.

“The UAE is proud and humbled to holding COP28 at a critical time. We know and you know the gravity of this moment. we feel as you feel the urgency of this work and we see as you see that the world has reached a crossroads. Since the Paris Agreement, we have made some progress. but we also know that the road we have been on will not get us to our destinations in time,” he said.

“We collectively have the power to do something unprecedented. In fact we have no choice but to go the very unconventional way. I ask you all to work together, be flexible, find common ground, come forward with a solution and achieve consensus."

Al Jaber also urged delegates and officials to use the next two weeks wisely.

“Take a no-nonsense approach with delays. This will restore faith. Let us bring back multilateralism and deliver some good news to the world. Let us rise above our differences for future generations welcome here in the UAE. I am calling you all to unite, act and deliver,” he said.

2.15pm: A moment of silence for Gaza, climate champions

A few minutes into the opening speech of Sameh Shoukry — Egypt's Minister of Foreign Affairs and president of COP27 — he asked the delegates to stand up and offer a minute of silence for all the civilians who died in the Gaza war and two climate champions who passed away recently, Saleemul Huq from Bangladesh and Pete Betts from the UK.

“As I today perform my very last duty as COP President, as Egypt hands over the baton of responsibility for global climate action to the UAE, I am confident that addressing these challenges will be the focus of incoming president Dr. Sultan Al Jaber and his able team," Shoukry said.

2pm: This is it, COP28 opening ceremony begins

Watch the live-stream here:

1.45pm: A call for ceasefire in Gaza

The COP28 Coaltion, a global network of climate justice and human rights organisations, is standing in solidarity with Palestine.

With the group's members wearing shirts that spell out 'ceasefire' and holding up watermelon flags, the group calls for the permanent cessation of bombardment in Gaza by Israel; scaling up of humanitarian aid; and an end to blockade of Gaza.

The climate movement see the struggle of the Palestinian people “as part and parcel of our collective struggle for climate, racial, economic and political justice and for a world where everyone has the right to live with dignity, free from oppression”.

1.20pm: 2,000 books turn into wheel of knowledge

This installation — made from more than 2,000 donated books — was created by Emirati female aircraft engineer and artist Suaad Al Shamsi to honour Sharjah as the City of Knowledge.

The artist intricately weaves her personal journey into the fabric of knowledge, utilising an aircraft tyre as the canvas.

Read more about this project here.

12.55pm: Order your favourite dish — but get a 2050 version of it

Now here's a cool high-tech experience you should check out at the UAE's House of Sustainability: Dinner in 2050.

Just name your favourite dish and it will pop up on a plate in front of you — only to be whisked away and replaced by a more sustainable option.

Here's how it works:

12.48pm: 'COP28 cannot be just a photo-op'

At this climate summit, leaders must deliver, a top UN official has said.

“Over 160 world leaders are headed to Dubai, because only cooperation between nations can get humanity back in this race,” said UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell ahead of the climate change conference.

“And as leaders leave Dubai after the opening summit, their message to their negotiators must be equally clear: Don’t come home without a deal that will make a real difference.”

Here's a video message he posted on X:

Climate finance stands at the heart of this transformation. Replenishing the Green Climate Fund, doubling financial resources for adaptation and operationalizing the loss and damage fund are key to keeping 1.5°C within reach while leaving no one behind.

“The reality is that without much more finance flowing to developing countries, a renewables revolution will remain a mirage in the desert. COP28 must turn it into a reality,” Stiell added.

12.37pm: Fancy headdresses, anyone?

While we know that the discussions that will take over this summit is crucial for the planet, it doesn't mean things have to be boring. Go have fun with a fancy headdress, like these visitors: (Pro tip: Extra cool points for those who will be able to convey an environment-related message through fashion.)

12.20pm: Road closure reminder

If you're planning to drive to COP28 tomorrow, take note that a stretch of the Sheikh Zayed Road will be closed in the morning until December 3.

This will affect the lane marked in orange on the map below:

The temporary road closure will be implemented from 7am to 11am from Friday to Sunday.

Read about alternative routes and all other details you need to know here.

12.05pm: Abu Dhabi Crown Prince, COP28 president check on preparations

UAE leaders are seen touring Expo City Dubai, personally making sure that everything is in order for the climate summit's opening ceremony — scheduled at 2pm.

Here are photos of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and COP28 president Dr Sultan Al Jaber, accompanied by other officials:

Photo: Abu Dhabi Media Office
Photo: Abu Dhabi Media Office
Photo: Abu Dhabi Media Office
Photo: Abu Dhabi Media Office

Here's a photo of Al Jaber at the Blue Zone:

11.58am: Meet an Emirati family of beekeepers

The Alshareef family has been keeping the beekeeping legacy of their forefathers alive. Their photo has been displayed alongside several other Emirati eco-crusaders in the House of Sustainability.

11.48am: 'Unity is still the greatest secret to progress' — Sheikh Mohammed welcomes world to COP28

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, posts an inspiring message as the world tackles one of the most pressing issues of our time — climate change.

"The mission is great... and the challenges are great... but history teaches us that the meeting, cooperation, and unification of humanity's efforts was and still is the greatest secret to the prosperity of their civilisations and their continued progress," he writes.

Here's the full tweet:

11.25am: Israel president to discuss hostages on the sidelines

Reuters file photo
Reuters file photo

Israeli President Isaac Herzog is set to attend COP28 today, where he will hold talks with diplomats on the release of hostages held by Hamas.

At the summit — which will also be attended by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas — Herzog will hold a "series of diplomatic meetings on the importance of releasing the hostages held by Hamas", the Israeli presidency said in a statement.

Read the full story here.

11.10am: 'This place is beautiful'

The UAE does it again: A jaw-dropping exhibition that shows how sustainability has long been part of the country's culture.

"This place is beautiful," says KT reporter Nasreen Abdulla. Before stepping inside, explore the oasis surrounding the falcon wing-shaped pavilion:

Just look at all that greenery and stream of water — you just have to be there, right?

Inside, you'll be transported into a golden desert — with sand brought from across the seven emirates:

You can also browse through photos from 52 years ago:

Then, relax on a majlis, sip on some qahwa, and pose with falcons. Yep, this place should not be missed.

10.55am: Philippines' Marcos to skip climate summit due to hostage-taking situation

In a last-minute decision, Philippine President Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr announced that he wouldn't be able to attend COP28 due to an emergency meeting on a hostage-taking situation in the Red Sea.

Marcos said he would have to prioritise the “important developments” in a hostage situation that involved 17 Filipino seafarers in the Red Sea.

10.45am: Don't forget your water bottles!

Heading to COP28? Bring your tumblers because no bottled water will be sold on the site. You can easily get your fill from stations like this one:

All Blue Zone pass holders will get free water bottles.

10.30am: Flew thousands of miles to volunteer

Elena flew all the way from Romania for her first-ever volunteering stint. “I just finished my master's degree in international telations and thought it would be a great way to get some experience.”

Here she is speaking to her colleagues, trying to understand the Expo site better:

10.15am: Spotted, cool pods where you can breathe in ... pollution

These igloo-like structures are not your ordinary pods. Step inside and you'll feel what it's like to stand in a polluted environment.

These pods recreate the air quality polluted atmospheres from London to New Delhi and Beijing. Special chemicals are used to mimic the smell and feel in such environments.

10am: Missing this dome?

The Expo 2020 icon Al Wasl dome — the crown jewel of the site — is back in action, with country flags in place to represent another gathering of the world.

This plaza, however, is part of the Blue Zone, which means it won't be accessible to all throughout the duration of the event.

9.45am: Blue Zone comes alive

At the Blue Zone — where official talks and panel discussions are set to take place — delegates, representative, and official observers are getting ready for the day's big events.

Some made it a point to bring touches of their culture to the venue:

This zone is closed to the public and accessible only to UN-accredited participants.

9.30am: World leaders arriving in Dubai

From main players and negotiating blocs in the global climate action movement to populous, fast-developing nations, the world's top representatives are flying in for the summit.

During the first few days, national leaders — from the UK's King Charles to India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi — are jetting in for what is called the "high-level segment" involving back-to-back speeches in the venue's main plenary hall.

Leaders also speak at side events, news conferences or with each other in bilateral huddles over what they think the COP should achieve.

This political oomph is meant to boost ambition and set the summit on the right track.

Read more about the countries participating in the summit here.


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