Ode to an Expo extraordinaire

This Expo will tug at my heartstrings with a thousand memories. And for a million reasons


Anjana Sankar

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KT Photo: M Sajjad
KT Photo: M Sajjad

Published: Fri 1 Apr 2022, 5:02 PM

Last updated: Fri 1 Apr 2022, 5:36 PM

It is over. The six months of jaw-dropping jamboree that Dubai hosted has finally ended. I teared up - like many of you - when fireworks lit up the night sky and Al Wasl Dome gleamed in all its flamboyant colours during the closing ceremony last night. What a befitting end to an Expo extraordinaire!

Back in October when Expo 2020 opened, six months seemed like an eternity. 182 calendar days were an infinite stretch of time for a fast-paced city. I remember sitting near the Al Wasl Dome during the opening ceremony and wondering what this Expo would bring to our city. How would I cover this mega event for six months with its head-spinning size and scale. I was scared, confused and impatient.

Did time just whizz by in a flash? Did I somehow sleep through a few months in between? How did it all come to an end so quickly? Wasn’t it supposed to last a little longer?

Late last night, after I'd wrapped up a long, tiring work day, it was the hardest walk toward the exit. The fibre lattices of the towering Expo portal glowing a bright yellow looked surreal as a horde of humans streamed out. I stood there admiring its sizzling grandeur, one last time.

Wait! I'm not done yet.

I wanted to sit under the Al Wasl Dome and gaze at its glorious curves and ridges one last time. I had spent so many days and evenings under its calm serenity!

Have I seen all the 200 plus pavilions? No. I left out some thinking there was still time. Can I go in and check, one last time? How I wish I could see my favourite pavilions of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Pakistan, and Switzerland one more time! What about the waterfall? I never got enough of it. Could I collapse into a beanbag at the Jubilee Park and enjoy just one more concert?

This Expo will tug at my heartstrings with a thousand memories. And for a million reasons. Amidst the doom and gloom of a pandemic, Expo gave me a ticket to hope. At a time when travelling was difficult, this Expo brought the world closer to me. I saw the lush rainforests of Brazil, the temples of Cambodia, the snow-clad Alps of Switzerland and enjoyed the street foods of Thailand. I sang with Filipino rock bands and Arab artists, and danced with African tribal dancers and Bollywood performers. From Coldplay to AR Rahman and Ronaldo to Ranbeer Kapoor, my celebrity crushes came to my backyard.

Dubai became the world as I saw people from every continent, of every colour and career, converge and collaborate. I met people who had lost loved ones to Covid. There were those who lost their jobs and savings. For them, Expo paraded a world of possibilities. It showed them a future full of promises. Like me, they wanted to embrace new beginnings. So, better we make peace with sunsets and wait for new dawns.


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