Expo 2020: Dubai expat uses annual leave to visit 100 pavilions in 5 days


Dubai - He was supposed to fly home for a holiday but then he thought — why not see the rest of the world instead?


Anjana Sankar

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Published: Sun 10 Oct 2021, 2:10 PM

Last updated: Sun 10 Oct 2021, 4:40 PM

Blesson Thankachan has always wanted to travel the world. This October, he decided to use his annual leave to go on a global tour — but without hopping on a plane.

Thankachan, a 33-year-old Indian expat, hit the Expo from Day 1 and globe-trotted his way across 100 country pavilions — from Lithuania to Lebanon, Switzerland to Singapore — all in just five days.

“I saw 100 countries and learnt about their culture and achievements, while staying in Dubai. That was fascinating,” he told Khaleej Times, showing off his Expo passport as proof.


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Thankachan, who hails from the south Indian state of Kerala, works for an IT firm as a service delivery manager.

“I was planning to fly home for my annual holidays. But I decided to use those days instead to make the most out of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said the expat, who is also a family man. He is married to Ann Merlyn Raju, and they have a six-month-old son named Alvin.

Thankachan, who moved to Dubai six years ago, said he had seen the Expo site when it was just ‘rolling sand’. Since then, he had been fascinated by how it was transformed from a barren land into a mega city.

“I used to go for deliveries in the Dubai Investment Park and nearby areas. Back then, there was just a sign that read ‘Expo 2020 Dubai’,” he recalled.

When the Expo opened to the public on October 1, Thankachan could not wait to get there. “On the first day, I covered 18 countries, starting with the UAE and Saudi Arabia pavilions. I was blown away by the design and the exhibits inside,” he said.

The next day, he came back for more, and more.

“In five days, I managed to get stamps from each of the 100 countries I visited. I am glad that my tour has motivated many of my colleagues and family members to buy Expo tickets and explore the world fair,” said Thankachan, who plans to cover all the 200-plus pavilions in the coming weeks.

“I want to come back and buy a souvenir from every pavilion. I would also like to try out all the different cuisines.”

For those who are planning to visit Expo 2020, Thankachan has a piece of advice: “Wear comfortable shoes and light clothes. Drink lots of fluids to stay hydrated.”


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