Time to dazzle wow the world

Time to dazzle wow the world

The World's Greatest Show has kicked off with a bang. What is in store for Dubai?


Issac John

Published: Sun 3 Oct 2021, 1:19 PM

Isaac John

Editorial Director

The time has come for Dubai to show off in spectacular fashion its irresistible allure as the planet’s most future-forward exposition unfolds a world of wonders.

Last night’s breathtaking opening ceremony, billed as the greatest show ever staged on this planet, has set the stage for 182 days of mind-boggling cultural spectacles, riveting experiences and life-changing events.

The non-stop show will be featuring over the next six months the best of art, music, architecture, technology and culture from around the world. Daily, the burlesque includes more than 60 live events and hundreds of cultural and culinary experiences.

Expo 2020 Dubai will be the first world Expo to take place in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, and one of the first global mega-events to be held since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Running until March 2022, the mega show celebrates human brilliance and achievement under the theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’.

The Expo theme has been designed to inspire the world through the sub-themes of sustainability, mobility and opportunity. Each sub-theme has a dedicated district with surprises galore.

The official song, titled ‘This is Our Time’, highlights the pride in the UAE’s cosmopolitan culture, and celebrates the future and brings together nations from around the world. The song combines the past, present and future, and provides an inspiration to all.

The scale of ambition on display at the Expo, designed as a city of the future with plans for high-tech launches driven by artificial intelligence, is breathtaking.

As one writer has put it: "The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it."These words of Mark Weiser, the influential godfather of ubiquitous computing, are finding their most audacious realisation at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Led by Reem Al Hashimy, the UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director-General of the Expo 2020 Dubai, the Expo has built an innovative, people-first community that meets the demands of a new world economy, supported by the latest advances in technology and human-centric design.

Awe-inspiring arrays of futuristic marvels and modern wonders showcased across 190-plus country pavilions that blend creativity, inspiration and architectural genius are what make Expo 2020 Dubai more stunning than other world expos since their creation in the 1850s.

While the Expo 1889 in Paris unveiled the iconic Eiffel Tower, Chicago became the ‘White City’ in 1893 as electric lights bathed its world expo site, which also boasted the first Ferris wheel. Then futuristic technologies including telephones, television broadcasts and X-rays wowed crowds.

Opportunity is one of the three themes of Expo 2020. It’s specifically based around unleashing natural talent to be effective agents of change — countries that focus on channelising aspirations to shape a better tomorrow. The Sustainability District, one of the most appealing complexes at the expo, showcases ‘what countries are doing to champion sustainability, and experience how the human race can enjoy living in harmony with nature in a high-tech future’. The Mobility District will project ‘connections to drive the world forward, breaking down the divide between the physical and digital worlds’. The Opportunity District will focus on ‘how our lives and actions are interconnected’.

The four-storied Indian Pavilion, one of the largest at the Expo, has been designed to showcase the nation’s 75th anniversary of Independence. The façade of the pavilion consists of 600 colourful kinetic-capable blocks to present the theme ‘India on the Move’. The logo, a wheel, in hues of the tricolour, reiterates the theme. Apart from showcasing the face of an India rising on the pillar of sustainability along with opportunity and mobility — a nation ready to lead the world’s future, it also displays opportunities in India in various fields. There are also star-studded nights, cultural festivals and stalls where visitors can sample Indian cuisine.

The centre-piece of the 480-hectare Expo site, spread across an area larger than 600 football fields, is the stunning UAE Pavilion designed by the distinguished architect Santiago Calatrava. The structure was inspired by the UAE’s national bird — the falcon — in flight. Spread across 15,000 sq m, the pavilion features 'wings' that move up and down to yield sustainable energy.


Inside the UAE Pavilion, one can experience the rich cultural heritage of the country as well as the aspiring future plans of the UAE. It’s a journey through the country’s endeavours to create a futuristic, progressive and peaceful society.

The India Pavilion has participation from a number of Indian states that are displaying their culture, tradition and tremendous business opportunities along with the top corporate groups from India, and the public-sector companies. A large number of government ministers, officials and celebrities are due to visit the pavilion during the six months.

The UK Expo 2020 pavilion, also called the ‘poem pavilion’ is a masterpiece by British designer and artist, Es Devlin, OBE. The structure is built to highlight the prominence of the UK’s space sector and artificial intelligence. Shaped like a conch shell, this dramatic pavilion will feature a glowing LED façade.

The UK Pavilion gets its name as the ‘poem pavilion’ by using artificial intelligence to generate poems that will form an illuminated ‘message to space’. What’s more exciting is that attendees who visit the pavilion will be able to contribute to these AI-generated messages, too!

Staying true to its roots, the Chinese pavilion in Expo 2020 is modelled like the traditional Chinese lantern. Built from eco-friendly materials using innovative modern techniques, the structure combines elements of China’s incredible past and imposing future into spectacular displays of achievement.

The most prominent of these displays is the exterior wall of the lantern-shaped structure, engineered to showcase China’s innovative movable-type printing invention. The same will convert into a dazzling display of digital lights by night — a spectacle you wouldn’t want to miss.

Expo 2020 Dubai expects to draw 25 million visitors, who are left with several options to reach there.

The first choice is Metro’s Route 2020 that can take visitors directly to the Expo Metro Station, on the doorstep of the World Fair.

The three main entrances are a 20-minute drive from Dubai Marina. The Expo Rider is a free public bus service dedicated to Expo 2020 Dubai. The bus is available frequently from a range of locations in Dubai and other emirates. Remember where it drops you off at the Expo site because the return trip must be taken from the same gate.

Visitors can take a cab on the street or book one using the Careem or Uber apps. Dubai Taxi Corporation has a limited number of taxis with wheelchair access. Call 800 88088 to book ahead.

Free parking is available at the site from 8.30 am to 1 am Saturday to Wednesday and 8.30 am to 3 pm Thursday to Friday and on special days. Follow signs to the Expo 2020 Dubai site from the major roads to any one of four designated parking zones.

Visitors can also take the E77 Expo Road for the Opportunity parking zone and the E77 Expo Road or D54 Zayed bin Hamdan al Nahyan for the Sustainability parking zone. The E311 Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Road for Mobility parking and the E311 Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Road for the Dubai Exhibition Centre. Valet parking is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

— issacjohn@khaleejtimes.com

More news from Supplements