What Is Dubai Expo 2020?

BY Olivia Phillips / Nov 10 2019 / 15:27 PM

There’s one year to go until the Arab world's biggest-ever event . But what exactly can we expect from the global extravaganza on everyone’s lips?

What Is Dubai Expo 2020?
Dubai Expo 2020

Are you an Expo expert? That’s the question posed by one of the handful of promo videos for Expo 2020 – something that you can’t fail to have heard about, even if you aren’t quite au fait with exactly what it entails. And we’ll be honest – there’s a lot to get to grips with, but luckily, even more to be excited about.

Come 20 October 2020, what they’re calling the world’s greatest show (and we’re inclined to agree) will be heading to our fair shores for six months; a coming together of 192 countries to share their most ground-breaking, game-changing and revolutionary inventions in a “festival of human ingenuity.” The Future Olympics, if you like.

There’s really nowhere better to host it than Dubai; a city built on the spirit of possibility and foresight. And that’s exactly what the theme of this year’s Expo revolves around, the motto being “Connecting minds, Creating the future.”

Courtesy of Dubai Expo 2020 

It’s come a long way since its conception in 1851, where the world’s first Expo took place in London’s Hyde Park. Since then, the epic-scale travelling showcase has unveiled every kind of cutting-edge creation imaginable; from Heinz Tomato Ketchup in 1876 in Philadelphia, to the Eiffel Tower in 1889 in Paris, and even TV in New York City, 1939.

Given that kind of prior hit-list, Dubai 2020 has big shoes to fill, but of course, has characteristically high expectations of itself. With an impressive target of 25 million visits to achieve, Expo 2020 Dubai is predicted to contribute around 1.5 per cent of the UAE’s annual forecasted GDP.

Financial benefits aside, its overall goal is an elevated one: to build a better world, and create a meaningful legacy. Gillian Hamburger, SVP of Programming tells Bazaar, “Expo 2020 Dubai is the world’s opportunity to  be part of a once-in-a-lifetime event, where they can celebrate and be inspired to make a lasting change.”

Dr. Hayat Shamsuddin, SVP of Arts & Culture continues, “Through programming including music, dance, design and poetry, and even the first-ever Emirati opera, Al Wasl, we’re inviting visitors to engage on a global platform to discover and share ideas and visions, reflecting on today and optimism for the future.”

But how exactly will this play out? Across 4.38 square kilometres, the Expo site will house an architectural smorgasbord of one pavilion from each country participating, each with their own theme, heritage, innovations, music, cuisine and art. These will sit within three thematic districts; three petals. Opportunity; all about unlocking potential, mobility; answering how we can create smarter, better connections, and sustainability; arguably the most important theme of all, asking how we can live in balance with the world around us.

From the November 2019 issue of Harper's Bazaar Arabia