The dream has come true, and the sun of the future has risen from Danat Al-Dunya, Dubai, to announce to all mankind the launch of the activities of “Expo 2020 Dubai”, the largest global event that creates a new world and reshapes the future, under the title “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”. Because the global event, which giant countries compete to spend billions to host every 5 years, is organized in Dubai, its opening ceremony on September 30, 2021 had to reflect the importance of the city and befit the prestigious size of the host country that stunned the world and attracted the attention of millions in an amazing , solemn and unique ceremony.
It was attended by a host of Their Highnesses Sheikhs, Their Excellencies Ministers, senior officials, members of the diplomatic corps in the country, and a large crowd of local and international media representatives.
In the forefront of the grand ceremony inaugurated in “Al Wasl Square”, were the beating heart of “Expo 2020”, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, “may God protect him”, and his “Brother”, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
The opening ceremony included a speech by His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence, Commissioner-General of Expo 2020 Dubai, and a speech by His Excellency Dimitri Kerkentzes, Secretary-General of the International Bureau of Exhibitions, the organizer of World Expo events.
After that, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of the Emirate of Dubai, welcomed the guests of the event, officially announcing the opening of Expo 2020.
”Ceremony of the Century”
The spectacular opening ceremony, which lasted for 90 minutes and was called the “Century Ceremony”, included innovative performances that tell the stories of the UAE’s historical achievements in bringing the world together on its soil. The ceremony was the culmination of 10 years of planning and preparation efforts to host the first World Expo, the most diverse ever in the 170-year history of the international event.
The great media uproar that accompanied the launch of “Expo 2020 Dubai” and its unique opening ceremony, raised many questions about what this international event is, its importance and the difference between it and other global events, and this is very natural given the diversity of the exhibition’s specializations, and because it is organized and hosted for the first time in the region. The Middle East, Africa and South Asia and hosted by Danat Al Dunya Dubai, the Arab city famous for taking the first places.
A rich history
The idea of launching the first World Expo goes back to Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, in London 170 years ago, when he was trying to introduce the world to the outcomes of the industrial and technological revolution and bring them closer to the public.
The first edition of the international event, which was inaugurated by Queen “Victoria” on May 1, 1851, was launched at the Crystal Palace in London under the slogan “Exhibition of Industrial Works from All Countries” and it was called “The Great Exhibition”. At that time, it was one of the distinguished events aimed at strengthening international relations, celebrating cultural diversity, appreciating technological and architectural innovations, various inventions and investment and economic opportunities.
After the impressive success of the idea, which was unparalleled in the world, the Expo, which was attended by about 6 million visitors at that time, turned into an event competing to be hosted by various countries, and the most important inventors and scientists are keen to attend.
The Great Exhibition in London had a great positive impact on the future of humanity, as it laid the foundation stone for what is known today as the International Expo, which in all its editions presented innovations that left their mark in various fields of our cultural, technological and architectural life.
The exhibition represents a major meeting point for the international community to share innovations and make progress on issues of concern to the world such as the global economy, sustainable development, and improving the standard of living of the peoples of different countries of the world.
In 1928, the Bureau of International Exhibitions was established in Paris to be the party that votes for the winner of hosting international exhibitions, with the membership of 167 countries. Since 1995, the Expo has been organized every 5 years and for a period of 6 months.
The exhibition depends on the participating countries establishing their pavilions to promote everything produced by their governmental and private companies. Its importance lies in the role and position of the organized city in displaying its capabilities in various fields that improve the quality of life and build for future generations a better future. It is also customary for this event to leave a legacy on the land that is held on it.
A long legacy and a deep impact
Every time the World Expo was held, he left a long-standing legacy and a deep impact on various aspects of life. Perhaps the most prominent elements of the ancient legacy of the International Exhibition are the Crystal Palace in London 1851, the Eiffel Tower in Paris 1889, and the Ferris wheel entertainment In Chicago 1893, the Atomium in Brussels 1958, the Space Needle Tower in Seattle 1962, the Columbus Monument (Columbus Monument) in Barcelona 1888, the Temple of Human Passions in Brussels in 1897, and the Milan Aquarium in Milan 1906, the Astoria Hotel in Brussels 1910, the Jewel Tower in San Francisco 1915, the Chaillot Palace in Paris 1937, the Space Needle in Seattle 1962, and Habitat 67 in Montreal in 1967.
Inventions that changed the face of humanity
As for the effects produced by the World Expo, it constitutes a roadmap for the most prominent products, technologies, industries and services that will shape the future of human civilization, where previous exhibitions witnessed prototypes of devices and technologies, some of which developed our ways of life, and others changed their course, to the extent that many aspects of life could not continue without the use of inventions and innovations that were rolled out and produced by the exhibition to serve humanity. Over the course of its long history, it showcased more than 100,000 inventions and innovations that changed the face of humanity.
The history of the exhibition is replete with stories and events that tell impressive achievements without which the world would not have reached the level of development, progress and prosperity that it has reached today. In the various editions of this international event, various discoveries and inventions appeared to the world, such as fixed and mobile phones, television and huge high-definition displays, also known as high-definition television, touch screens, and an audio cinema projector.
The event also witnessed the emergence of electricity, X-rays, wireless technologies, the typewriter, the calculator, the first computer, the first washing machine, and the first elevator. It also revealed many of the means of transportation we use today, the first oil-operated vehicles, the electric vehicle, the tram, and the grass mower, and the talking doll.
Many food innovations were launched at the International Expos that satiated the tastes of visitors, including popcorn, the famous “Heinz” or “ketchup” tomato sauce, and ice cream cones, the chocolatier, Côte d’Or, also produced chocolate samples during one of the editions of this international fair.
Expo 2020 Dubai
Today, the world is eagerly looking forward to know what Dubai has prepared to host the major international event, especially since this emirate is famous for its dazzling surprises and is led by a ruler who loves excellence and primacy and does not recognize the impossible. Therefore, choosing Dubai on November 27, 2013 to organize this exhibition was not at random, but based on factors and strong foundations prompted the International Bureau of Exhibitions in the French capital, Paris, to decide, with the support of 116 members, to choose Dubai to outperform cities from Brazil, Russia and Turkey.
These factors and foundations came as a result of strategic plans, insightful visions, and tireless work carried out by the wise leadership of the UAE since its establishment, to keep its banner high at all times and at various levels and fields.
Expo 2020 Dubai is currently organized in its unique version under the main slogan “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”, and three sub-themes emerge from it (sustainability, opportunities, and mobility), thus becoming a center for influential ideas, and inspiring humanity towards finding the best solutions to the most complex problems and the most difficult challenges.
The exhibition includes a series of various programs that address many issues over a period of 182 days, the most prominent of which is the “Man and Planet Earth” program, whose activities will cover the six months of the international event, and include 10 specialized weeks dealing with various topics, 18 international days and many other events, each one of these events and occasions deals with major issues of global importance through 220 events that combine forums, conferences, seminars, workshops and purposeful and inspiring talks, where the program represents the latest contribution of the UAE in the pursuit of a better, safer and healthier future for humanity.
The exhibition will also organize other programs, which are: “Expo Live” – the Partnership and Innovation Program at Expo 2020 Dubai, the Expo 2020 Program for International Best Practices, the Expo 2020 Program for Educational Institutions, and Expo 2020 for Schools.
This global event is a unique occasion for explorers and adventure enthusiasts, foodies, cultured people, children and the elderly.
Participants and pavilions
By hosting the Expo 2020, the Emirate of Dubai has proven its excellence and ability to organize this event in a way unprecedented in the history of international exhibitions for 170 years, and the best evidence of this is that “Expo 2020 Dubai” has become the most comprehensive and largest event in terms of international participation. More than 192 countries will participate in it, and for the first time in the history of the event, each country will have its independent pavilion, so that visitors can discover the uniqueness of each country.
The participating countries will be able to display their national achievements, ambitions and diverse cultures in their pavilions through contents and experiences related to the sub-themes of Expo 2020 Dubai, sustainability, mobility and opportunities, as these topics are essential pillars for shaping the future of the world and major platforms for highlighting human innovations, and inspiring visitors of the exhibition.
The national pavilions will also be able to participate in the various activities of Expo 2020’s programmes, by participating in performances in public spaces.
Many international organizations, civil society organizations and giant companies participate in the pavilions of “Expo 2020 Dubai”, as well as special pavilions that provide various services that meet the requirements of visitors and combine education and entertainment.
The participants in the exhibition view this international event in light of the pandemic conditions that the world is experiencing today a precious and invaluable opportunity to showcase the best that each country has to offer, communicate with millions of visitors from around the world, and promote the cultural, tourism, social and economic benefits of each country, as well as reviewing and exploiting investment opportunities, forming cooperation relations, and building strategic partnerships with various authorities.
What will Dubai and the UAE benefit from Expo 2020?
It is estimated that Expo 2020 Dubai, which will last for 6 months, will attract about 25 million visitors from around the world, so it will be the focus of attention of businessmen, investors and traders, thanks to Dubai’s position, which is one of the most important regional and global centers in the fields of business and finance.
This international event also represents a strong catalyst for many economic sectors, as it will certainly achieve huge financial returns. The exhibition will also create job opportunities and economic recovery for many sectors such as tourism, hotels, real estate, airlines, transportation, technology, and many other basic sectors, not in Dubai alone, but in all parts of the Emirates.
On the other hand, benefits from Expo 2020 Dubai exceed the direct economic returns, as it is one of the most sustainable exhibitions in the history of the World Expo, and a practical example of innovation in its various aspects, and its significant positive impact will extend to the cultural and social sectors, leaving a valuable impact and a great legacy for the city of Dubai in particular, and the UAE in general.
After the event ends on March 31, 2021, the exhibition area will turn into “District 2020”, a developed economic, tourist and residential attraction, working with the best technological solutions in the world, and equipped with the best educational facilities and the most beautiful gardens.
In addition, Al Wasl Square, which is the beating heart of Expo and the largest unsupported dome in the world, will remain, after the curtain falls on the exhibition, an exceptional center in the “District 2020” area.
Safety and Security
The United Arab Emirates, with its various cities and emirates, has long occupied the first ranks among the safest countries in the world, according to the most important international indicators and reports that are based on strict and significant criteria in classifying countries and cities.
In this context, the UAE government will focus and give priority to the security and safety of the major global event, its visitors and participants. The wise leadership has prepared strict plans and measures to secure the international event and achieve national goals of global leadership in various fields, including organizing the largest activities.
Giant security teams and committees from various departments, authorities and institutions are participating in securing the activities of Expo 2020 Dubai, at the local and federal levels, to perform various tasks aimed at providing an exceptional experience for visitors to the event and the countries participating in it, while harnessing the events of smart technologies and artificial intelligence systems to ensure the highest levels of safety for the event.
Safety and health measures
Safety measures and the prevention of disease and epidemic outbreaks have become a top priority when organizing any event or activity. Because “Expo 2020 Dubai” is not like any other event, the UAE and the event’s organizers have given the issue of public health the utmost importance, and strict procedures and rules have been put in place to preserve the health and safety of all visitors. The event organizers required all Expo 2020 Dubai employees, participating international staff, contractors and service providers to receive the vaccination.
Visitors over the age of 18 will have to provide proof of any vaccination approved by the governments of their countries or a negative result of the nasal swab test (PCR), provided that the examination was conducted 72 hours before the visit date at the most.
It will also be possible for non-vaccinated Expo 2020 ticket holders who have not undergone a corona test during the specified period to use the examination center located near the site of Expo 2020 Dubai, or in a number of examination centers spread throughout the city of Dubai, and when submitting an Expo 2020 Dubai valid ticket, single day ticket or multiple entry, examination will be free. Expo 2020 Dubai is implementing on-site safety procedures, which include regularly cleaning and sterilizing all public places and areas, and providing the best types of sterilization units on a large scale, as event organizers contracted with Dettol to provide the best hygiene products throughout Expo 2020 Dubai, as well as obligating everyone wear masks and maintain physical distancing.
Thermal cameras are also available at the event site to check the temperature of visitors before they enter the site, in addition to providing adequate facilities and specialized staff to address any potential medical issues.
Expo 2020 Dubai site
Expo 2020 is located in Dubai South, adjacent to Al Maktoum International Airport, and its strategic location is easily accessible from Dubai International Airport, Abu Dhabi International Airport, Dubai cruise ship berth, and Abu Dhabi cruise ship terminal.
The Expo 2020 site is easily accessible by public transportation, including the extension of the Dubai Metro line “Route 2020” and the Expo Buses, which are free public buses designated for the international event.
The Expo 2020 Dubai site occupies a total area of 4.38 square kilometres. The classified display area occupies approximately two square kilometers of the site, while the remaining 2.4 kilometers will include various facilities and support buildings.
Expo 2020 Dubai is also one of the most technically interconnected sites in the world, as it is the city of the future supported by the latest innovations that will connect the various aspects of the international event to ensure that visitors enjoy a distinctive experience.
Theme areas include exhibition spaces, innovation galleries, art installations, and outdoor parks and gardens. Each one is centered around a specific theme pavilion (World of Opportunity – Opportunity Pavilion, Alef – Mobility Pavilion, Terra – Sustainability Pavilion).
As for Al Wasl Square, it is the beating heart of Expo 2020 the centerpiece of the international event and the focal point of celebrations during its course. Its steel dome is the largest 360-degree projection screen in the world.
Made of carbon fibre, the Expo 2020 Dubai entry gates are interlocking mashrabiya-inspired structures, each 21 meters high, giving visitors a first glimpse of the incredible architecture and innovations they will experience throughout the event.
Opening times and tickets
Expo 2020 Dubai will open its doors from October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022, seven days a week from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm, from Saturday to Wednesday, and from 10:00 am to 2:00 am on Thursday and Friday, Note that working hours may change according to special occasions and circumstances.
Expo 2020 Dubai grants the elderly (over 60 years old), children and youth (6-17 years old), people of determination and students who hold a valid student card from any academic institution in the world, free entry to the event grounds, while adults(18 to 59 years old) will have to purchase a ticket to enter.
To meet all needs, Expo 2020 Dubai sets multiple options for purchasing tickets, as it provides those wishing to enter the global event with seasonal tickets, multiple entry tickets, a one-day ticket, and a premium ticket, in addition to providing several family packages.
Tickets can be purchased via www.expo2020dubai.com and over 2,500 authorized ticket outlets, including online travel agents, tour operators, hotel groups and airlines from more than 100 markets worldwide.
By: Ikram Ban dalla (Military affairs researcher)