Dubai: Top 10 pavilions and attractions of Expo's District 2020

The 15-minute city will be a cycle-friendly, traffic-free, urban space


Anjana Sankar

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Published: Sat 23 Apr 2022, 5:14 PM

Last updated: Tue 3 May 2022, 12:07 AM

The site where Expo 2020 Dubai was held is still a beehive of activity even after it came to an end on March 31.

Many pavilions are being dismantled and their raw materials are to be repurposed in accordance with the sustainable strategy outlined by the world expo from the very beginning.

However, 80 per cent of the site will stay and will become part of District 2020 – a smart city. It will house a residential and business complex that will be launched in October, this year. The 15-minute city, as organisers call it, will be a cycle-friendly, traffic-free urban space that will have cutting edge futuristic technology that are human-centric.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, has appointed a committee to oversee the development of the next stage of the Expo 2020 Dubai site. The Supreme Committee, which has a term of three years, will oversee District 2020’s development, including all projects, initiatives, programmes and activities.

Top features of District 2020

  • Human centric city
  • Residential complex
  • Business complex
  • Start-up incubation centre
  • 10-km cycling track
  • Jogging Track
  • Autonomous vehicle track

Not all stunning architectural marvels will become a memory. Some of them will be part of District 2020’s infrastructure.

Here are some of the top attractions that will be part of Expo's legacy

1. Al Wasl Plaza

The Al Wasl Plaza, known as the beating heart of the Expo, was the main staging and performance area of Expo that hosted world class talents throughout the world fair. Al Wasl, meaning ‘connection’, is visual marvel in itself inspired by the Expo logo. The video below shows the 65-metre high trellis of Al Wasl. It has the world’s largest immersive 360º projection surface that transforms the dome into a mesmerizing spherical site at night.

2. UAE Pavilion

The UAE pavilion in the shape of an eagle on flight was one of the most popular pavilions at Expo. It was designed by Spanish architect and engineer, Dr Santiago Calatrava. The pavilion located close to the Al Wasl Plaza, will stay as legacy. Its 8,000 sqm of exhibition space will continue to provide a visual treat to visitors and residents. The structure, in the image below, has 28 movable wings in the roof, can spread to harvest energy through integrated photovoltaic panels.

3. Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion

Terra – the Sustainability Pavilion will become a children’s museum and science centre and continue to inspire people to think about innovative ways to fight climate change. It will host workshops and serve as temporary exhibition spaces to raise awareness about the environment and to inspire children to make changes in their everyday life.

The net zero energy pavilion features a variety of sustainable innovations, including inventive irrigation techniques, a grey-water recycling system, local plants to reduce water use by 75 per cent, "energy trees" equipped with solar panels that rotate like a sunflower to face the sun and a water tree that will produce water from the surrounding air.

4. Alif - The Mobility Pavilion

Alif - The Mobility Pavilion, named after the first Arabic alphabet, has attracted millions of visitors with its unique, ribbed and curved structure, which will remain continue to stand.

Designed by Foster and Partners, the luminous structure showcases cutting edge technologies that human have used to advance. The pavilion features the world’s largest passenger lift that carry more than 160 people, and a partly open air 330-metre track that allows visitors to see the future of mobility. After the Expo, the pavilion will host exhibitions.

5. Dubai Exhibition Centre

Located adjacent to the Dubai Metro Route 2020 station, the Dubai Exhibition Centre was the business and networking hub of Expo. The sprawling 45,000 sqm exhibition space will remain as a world-class facility to host conferences, concerts and exhibitions post Expo.

6. Gravity-defying water feature

One of the biggest crowd-pullers at the Expo, the gravity defying water feature will be a part of District 2020. The water feature combines three elements of nature – water, fire and earth – to give visitors a surreal experience of water flowing upwards before it tumbles down 13-metre-high vertical walls, that cascades into a mysterious, multi-hued circle of fire. The orchestra score that adds to the experience is created by Ramin Djawadi, two-time Emmy award winner and Game of Thrones music composer.

7. The Observation Tower

The 55-metre-tall rotating observation tower that gives a bird’s eye view of the Expo 2020 site will be a part of District 2020. The tree-lined upper deck offers sweeping views of the site while the base of the tower and the observation cabins glow at night as visitors are lifted into the sky. The tower is designed by London-based architect Asif Khan, who also designed the three carbon-fibre Expo gates.

8. Saudi Arabia pavilion

The second largest pavilion is the Saudi Arabia Pavilion, which stands tall as a giant window open to the sky reflecting the Kingdom’s past, present and future. The pavilion that features a gigantic LED mirror screen, interactive water feature and covers an area of two soccer fields, takes visitors on a journey through the flora, fauna, the beautiful coasts, and high mountains of the country.

9. India Pavilion

Nestled at the Al Forsan Park adjacent to the Opportunity district, the India Pavilion is one of the largest pavilions and symbolizes ‘India on the move’.

10. Firdaus Studio

The Firdaus Studio is the brainchild of Oscar-winning musician AR Rahman. It is the home of the all-woman ensemble he mentored to perform at Expo. The studio will remain as a world-class creative space for artists and composers from around the world to collaborate. It aims to attract world class talent and promote local musicians and artists.


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