World Expo 2020 Celebrates Human Evolution
By Matt Martella
On October 20th, 2020, the United Arab Emirates invites 192 countries to Dubai to showcase their latest innovations, achievements, and aspirations at the World Expo. Also called the World’s Greatest Show, the main goal of the World Expo is to promote cultural exchange from all over the world.
The theme of World Expo 2020 is ‘Connecting minds, Creating the Future,’ and the subthemes are Opportunity, Mobility, and Sustainability.
The World Expo is nearly six months long (officially ending on April 10th, 2021), and each week of the event changes its focus on how countries are making the world a better place.
Dubai is one of 33 cities to have hosted the World Expo. Already set to host millions of visitors from around the planet, World Expo 2020 will be the largest event ever staged in the Arab world.
For over a century, the World Expo has been a major showcase for countries to reveal their newest inventions, some of the most notable inventions and architecture being the typewriter, the television, the Eiffel Tower, and the Seattle Space Needle.
Some of the most extraordinary sites of the World Expo aren’t the inventions themselves, but the pavilions in which countries showcase them. To get an understanding of the sheer scale of this event, each country has its own pavilion, so there will be 192 pavilions to explore in addition to the other buildings and events showcased at the Expo.
In addition to the country pavilions, each of the themes highlighted in the Expo (Opportunity, Mobility, and Sustainability) will all have its own pavilions as well. The Mobility pavilion takes you on a journey through time. It
starts in the House of Wisdom in 9th century Baghdad and ends in a virtual reality where you can be served by robot waiters.
The Opportunity pavilion’s main goal is the inspire its visitors to create a better world. This pavilion uses gameplay to challenge the participant’s perception of water, food, and energy by simulating environments of real-life individuals who are agents of change in their own communities.
The Sustainability Pavilion showcases the many ways in which people are discovering new paths of sustainability for the Earth’s resources all in an effort to convince visitors that the Earth and is worth preserving.
The UAE’s own pavilion is 15,000 square meters long. Designed by architect Santiago Calatrava to look like a falcon in flight, the purpose of the UAE’s pavilion is to “tell the history of the nation as a connected global hub, and showcase the vision of its leaders to create a peaceful and progressive society with ambitious plans for the future.”
The UAE’s pavilion is focused on showcasing the country’s advancements in aviation. Guests will be allowed to see what the UAE is designing for the future of commercial aviation, as well as learn about the science of flight, experiment with metal arms, and design their own aircraft. In addition to this, the UAE pavilion will be hosting nightly light shows throughout the Expo.
Portugal’s pavilion is highlighted at this year’s World Expo and will be operating in the ‘Discover’ section of the Expo.
The pavilion allows visitors to learn about Portugal’s contributions to aerospace, blue economy, marine and water conservation, entrepreneurship, history, and renewable energy through interactive displays. On the fun side, visitors of the pavilion will have access to Portuguese restaurants and an outside terrace designed to a Portuguese lifestyle.
Even if you’re not interested in what the attending countries have to offer on the inside, the visual spectacle of each pavilion is enough to impress anyone with an enthusiasm for architecture. Each of the 192 country pavilions has its own distinct architectural feel from the rest, so visitors will likely spend plenty of time admiring the hard work and creativity put into each exterior design.
The World Expo 2020 is not a trade fair or business event; it is a celebration that, according to the Expo itself,
welcomes “artists and academics, pop stars and pioneering thinkers, culinary wizards and corporate gurus, tech ninjas and tomorrow’s leaders.”
There are 60 events each day, ranging from performances from world-famous artists and musicians, stand-up comedy, parades and plenty of cultural events from all the 192 countries represented at the Expo.
Visitors of the World Expo will have the opportunity to celebrate some of the world’s biggest holidays in a unique environment.
The Diwali festival of lights, one of the most important holidays in Hinduism, will be celebrated by the Expo on Saturday, November 14th. The UAE National day, which marks the union of the Arab Emirates, will be celebrated on Wednesday, December 2nd. Additionally, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Chinese New Year will all be huge events worth attending at the Expo.
The Al Wasl Plaza, named after the Arabic word for “connect,” will be the host for many of the major ceremonies and celebrations occurring during the World Expo. Additionally, the steel trellis that surrounds the plaza will act as an immersive 360-degree projection surface that can be viewed from the inside and outside alike.
There are over 200 dining outlets at this year’s Expo, attracting the best chefs from all over the world to share their cuisines. There are over 50 country cuisines, including American, Greek, Indian, Japanese, Emirati, Italian, French, and Thai.
From grabbing a quick bite to eat at a food truck or bistro café to sit down at a fine dining restaurant or live culinary show, there are plenty of ways for visitors to enjoy the diverse and extensive food options.
The World Expo 2020 is undoubtedly a massive event both in cultural importance and scale. Luckily, transportation is widely available throughout the Expo.
There are 30,000 car parking spaces and 1,400 valet parking spaces. There are also 100 taxi pick-up/drop-off points. Finally, there are 27 shuttle buses and 580 dedicated public expo buses with 9 pick-up/drop-off points.
The Expo offers 1-day tickets, 3-day tickets, monthly passes (unlimited entries for 30 days), and season passes, which allows visitors to come to the Expo throughout its entire duration. Seniors over the age of 65 and children aged 5 and below can get any of these tickets for free. Students and young people between the ages of 6 and seventeen can buy tickets for a discounted price. For further information on pricing, click here.
Other things to do in the United Arab Emirates
The World Expo 2020 can be just one of many stops you can make on a longer trip through the UAE. Even without the World Expo, Dubai is one of the most visited cities in the entire world. One major landmark in the
city is the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower at 828 meters high. Additionally, the malls, beaches, and even a man-made island called the Palm Jumeirah make Dubai an attraction regardless of your interest in the Expo.
Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, is a one-hour drive away from the Expo and is the home of over 200 natural islands and the world’s largest mosque.
Abu Dhabi also features the fastest roller coaster on the planet and a wildlife park with over 10,000 free-roaming animals.
To experience the natural side of the UAE, you can climb the mountains of Fujairah or go sailing and skydiving on the coastal Emirate of Umm Al Quwain.
Finally, the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah offers visitors to take a tour of its breathtaking deserts, mountains, and beaches on the world’s longest zip-line. Perhaps the best part of all these sites is that most of them are about an hour or less away from the Expo, making it extremely convenient for guests who want to see more of the UAE.
Matt Martella is a writer living in Worcester, Massachusetts and has written for the UMass Daily Collegian and GoNOMAD. He has an undergraduate degree in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He loves to travel and has lived as a student in Dublin, Ireland and Oxford, England. He looks forward to exploring more parts of the world (specifically in Europe and Asia) and aims to make a profession out of writing about his experiences.