It's now or never: Expo 2020 Dubai visitors wait up to 4 hours in queue as world fair nears end

Hundreds and thousands of visitors are prepared to do what it takes to experience some of the most popular pavilions



Photo by Shihab
Photo by Shihab

By SM Ayaz Zakir

Published: Mon 21 Mar 2022, 1:00 PM

Last updated: Mon 21 Mar 2022, 11:58 PM

Ajman resident Ameen Sultan and his family have been waiting for more than an hour to get into the Indian Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. The Maharashtra native has heard so much about the pavilion that he does not mind the nearly two-hour wait to get inside. The wait, he says, will be worth it.

“We had been making plans even before the Expo 2020 opened its doors, but kept delaying our visit. Suddenly, we realised that just 10 days remained for the fair to end. We are prepared to wait for as long as it takes to get into the pavilion,” said Sultan.

The video below shows that the queue to enter the pavilion stretched all the way till the Italian one:

Sultan is among the hundreds and thousands of Expo 2020 visitors who are prepared to do what it takes to experience some of the most popular pavilions.

With just 10 days left for the mega event to come to a close, almost all pavilions are seeing massive queues. Crowd-pullers like Vision Pavilion, Campus Germany, UAE and Saudi Pavilions have been seeing long lines of people waiting patiently. Queues range from a few metres to nearly a kilometre, with waiting times of up to four hours to enter some.

Families, couples, friends and individuals chat away or browse their phones to keep themselves engaged as they wait.

“I am ready to wait as this was one among the very few pavilions that I have not visited,” said Dubai resident Karim, who managed to visit just the Indian Pavilion on Sunday.

Snail-pace movement was recorded on Sunday near Al Wasl Dome and the UAE pavilion, which is shown in the photo below.

A volunteer guiding the queue said that the wait time is nearly four hours, and the visitors are still joining the queue.

“I have been to almost all the big pavilions and missing out on the UAE Pavilion – as a UAE resident of five years — is something I cannot think of missing out,” said Ally Bancas, a Filipino Expat.

“I had taken leave from my office earlier to visit the Expo, but couldn't visit the UAE pavilion. As it was my week off today, I am here, waiting to enter,” added Bancas.

The Saudi magic

The Saudi Arabia pavilion is among the few with highest number of recorded visitors. The pavilion also received the 'Best Pavilion' award, along with two honorary awards.

The queue at the pavilion on Sunday moved slowly, with visitors focused entirely on simply moving forward. One visitor told Khaleej Times that it would take around an hour to enter the pavilion. Still, visitors were seen braving the hour-long wait as they lined up outside the Kindom's pavilion.

Queues closed at Campus Germany due to rush

Akram Ahmed and his family are among the hundreds who have queued up outside the Campus Germany pavilion — which is famous for the interactive activities it hosts.

“I have to leave to my home country in the next two days and I have been hearing and reading about the Germany pavilion which is a must visit. So, I really don’t mind waiting in queue here for two hours,” Ahmed said.

Ahmed also said that the pavilion representatives closed the queue at 4.15pm due to the heavy rush. “I was lucky to be granted entry. The pavilion representatives came up with a sign ‘queue closed’ soon after I cleared and my cousins were waiting to enter.”

Ahmed’s cousin Aziz said that the queue was resumed after an hour and the wait time was nearly two and a half hours. Pictured below are the numerous visitors who lined up outside the pavilion despite the wait time.

Good food comes to those who wait

A few restaurants ended their day early for dine-in and take away time was over 15-25 minutes as queues mounted. Sushiro restaurant at the Japanese pavilion closed for diners at 1pm on Sunday due to the massive rush.

Al Baik restaurant at Expo 2020 Dubai had a long queue with waiting time of nearly three hours. Here, hundreds of people are seen waiting in line for a chance to try Saudi Arabia's famous fried chicken chain.

Salman Jukaku, who had visited Expo along with his family, said that they were lucky enough to receive quick service from the restaurant. "My father is here with me and is on a wheelchair. The restaurant management noticed this and provided us with fast-track service. If not, I should have waited for nearly three hours,” said Salman.

20 million visitors and counting

The world is in the UAE, and all roads lead to Expo 2020 Dubai.

On March 19, the event clocked the astounding milestone of 20 million visits — no mean feat considering the fact that Covid-19 had brought the world to a standstill. Leading the way to normalcy, the UAE is hosting the largest global gathering since the start of the pandemic.

And visitor numbers are rising, fast.

Over the weekend, one of the parking lots was full as early as 3pm. People start queuing up for pavilion experiences early on, braving the afternoon soon and long waiting times.

All roads lead to Expo

Even weekdays are packed, with visitors taking special Expo leaves to experience it. Some of the repeat visitors head to the event after work. With schools closed for spring break, the event is a major draw for families.

The weather has been kind, too. With temperatures crossing the 40-degree Celsius last week, the mercury has cooled down. In fact, it was rather cold over the weekend.

March has seen the highest visit numbers so far, with visitors realising it’s now or never.

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