Expo 2020 Dubai: Meet the 'No 1 fan' who has collected 23 passports, visited over 190 pavilions

The Indian visitor has also amassed over 300 memorabilia



by

Anjana Sankar

Published: Thu 17 Mar 2022, 12:07 PM

Last updated: Thu 17 Mar 2022, 10:12 PM

How many times have you visited Expo 2020 Dubai and its numerous country pavilions? That is a question that will leave Aazam Tahir Gandhi, 31, scratching his head.

Dubbed the "No 1 Expo fan" by the organisers who tweeted his picture, Gandhi, who is visiting from India's capital New Delhi, has lost count of the number of times he has toured the world fair. Expo 2020 has attracted over 19 million visits since its opening in October 2021.

Gandhi, who has repeatedly visited 190 plus country pavilions during the last three months, has collected 23 Expo passports and hundreds of stamps - proof that he is a "veritable encyclopaedia on all things Expo offers."

"I landed in the UAE on December 4 on a visit visa, and ever since, I have been coming here almost every day. I know every nook and cranny of this place. Yet, I want to get more out of this Expo," Gandhi who works as a manager at Karim's Restaurant in Delhi, told Khaleej Times.

"I always wanted to travel and see the world. There is no place like this on earth where I can see and experience all the countries and different cultures," said Gandhi, who is married and has a one-year-old daughter.

Clad in a blazer and cap adorned with hundreds of pins and flags from every participating country he has collected as souvenirs, Gandhi is an unmissable spectacle for other Expo visitors who often stop to take selfies with him.

"I even get invited by pavilions to attend their events," he said." "Some people come and ask me whether my jacket is too heavy because of all the pins. I tell them their smiles make it lighter."

But it is not the mini-celebrity status or the photo ops that enamours Gandhi.

"I am excited when people come and talk to me and take pictures. But what brings me back to Expo is the amount of information and knowledge I get from here. It is the future of the world that is on display here," he said.

Of all the pavilions he has visited multiple times, Gandhi's top favourite is Alif – The Mobility pavilion.

"It is fascinating where you can travel through time and see how humankind progressed, where we stand now with our challenges and what life will be in the coming decade. It is a fascinating presentation where the past, present and future come together."

The country pavilions of UAE and Saudi Arabia are on top of his list.

"Honestly, every pavilion is an eye-opener. I saw some countries and islands which I did not even know existed. As I am from the food industry, Expo gave me the amazing opportunity to taste food from all over the world."

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Gandhi says he has fallen in love with Expo so much that he is already making plans to visit the next Expo 2025 in Osaka, Japan.

"I will start saving up a little amount every month so that I can go to Japan."

Gandhi, who runs the Zeal Arabic School in Mudali village in Meerut, says he plans to create a small museum for the students with all his Expo souvenirs.

"That is my gift to the next generation. I hope it will inspire them to travel and seek knowledge."


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