The World Expo Arrives at our Doorstep

Explore, Experience and Innovate

By Shereen Shabnam

It has been a journey of discovery the last few months as an Expo 2020 volunteer and learning about one of the oldest and largest international events on the planet, that takes place every five years and lasts six months.  Expo 2020 Dubai will be the first World Expo ever hosted in the Middle East, Africa, and will be held from the 1st of October 2021 to the 31st of March 2022.

Expected to attract over 25 million visitors, the site is 4.4 square kilometers in size, equivalent to more than 600 soccer fields. It has dedicated highway exits and public transport lines including the metro (Route 2020), a 45,000 square foot exhibition center capable of hosting 20,000 people at a time and much more.

An Expo is a global event that aims at educating the public, sharing innovation, promoting progress and fostering cooperation. For the host country, it is a tool for national branding and development and hosting a platform for dialogue, innovation and cooperation.

The global event also allows for international outreach and economic opportunities. The exhibition will celebrate innovation under the theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’. The major areas on site are divided into sub themes of Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability. At the heart of the venue is the Al Wasl Plaza that will feature exhibitions, waterfalls, fountains and courtyards.

Expo Dubai will be a multifaceted event for extraordinary exhibitions, diplomatic encounters, business meetings, public debates, live shows, educational and entertaining experiences.

During our training, we learnt that the very first World Expo (World’s Fair) took place in London in 1851. The event was staged in The Crystal Palace to showcase and celebrate modern manufacturing and technologies. More than six million people attended, including luminaries such as Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens and Charlotte Brontë.

Subsequent Expos launched landmark inventions such as the The telephone (Philadelphia, 1876), The Eiffel Tower (Paris, 1889), Ferris wheel (Chicago World’s Fair, 1893), The X-Ray machine (Buffalo, 1901), electricity (St Louis, 1904), The commercial broadcast television (New York, 1939), the mobile phone (Osaka, 1970),Touchscreens (Knoxville, 1982) and The humanoid robot (Nagoya, 2005).


The Dubai Expo 2020 pavilions are architectural wonders and will have participating countries showcasing their groundbreaking projects that embody the best of creativity, inspiration, and design. We bring you the highlights of some the pavilions that have revealed their design inspirations to us.

Women’s Pavilion

Expo 2020 Dubai will highlight gender equality and women’s empowerment at the Women’s Pavilion in collaboration with Cartier, and reminding the world that only through the full and equal participation of women in all fields can a more equitable and just world be built. The Women’s Pavilion’s exhibition, titled “New perspectives”, will honour the significant and often forgotten contributions of women, demonstrating that when women thrive, all of humanity thrives.

UAE Pavilion

The UAE pavilion is designed by architect Santiago Calatrava and is inspired by the falcon, the country’s national bird, as it is in flight. A number of massive wings are present across the pavilion, which move up and down to generate electricity that powers the pavilion. Visitors can explore the culture and history of the UAE and look at the nation’s plans for a futuristic society.

San Marino

The Ambassador to the UAE and Commissioner General Expo 2020, Mauro Maiani unveiled the main theme and title of the San Marino Pavilion at the Expo located in the Opportunity area. The Pavilion will be dedicated to the replica of the “Treasure of Domagnano” found in San Marino in late 1800. The most important piece of the treasure, the fibula is now at Louvre Abu Dhabi. The pavilion will also tell the History and tradition of the country as well as its modern economic system based on tourism but also in innovative companies. The National Day of San Marino will also be celebrated at Expo 2020 on 10 December 2021.

Saudi Arabia

At the Saudi Pavilion, visitors will experience the Kingdom’s rich past, vibrant present, and promising future. A 68 square-meter, curved LED screen greets visitors as they embark on a technology-enabled journey through five ecosystems, hinting at the Kingdom’s natural spaces, beautiful coasts, vast deserts, surrounding seas, and high mountains. The journey will walk through the flora of Al Bardani Valley in Asir Region to the mighty mountains of Tabuk, and from the dunes of the Empty Quarter in southeastern Saudi to the crystal-clear waters of the Red Sea. Visitors to the Saudi Pavilion will then experience 14 cultural landmarks along a stunning escalator ride.


The Israel Pavilion is inspired by an open tent concept, the pavilion will embrace the Gulf Region and the world with an emotional “Journey for Tomorrow,” aiming to forge significant relationships, create new opportunities and build a brighter future, together. The EXPO marks a historical moment in relations between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, following the Abraham Accords.

New Zealand

New Zealand’s theme for Expo 2020 is Care for People and Place, which is based on the indigenous environmental ethos of kaitiakitanga, the connection and responsibility between people and the natural environment.   The theme was inspired by the world-first status given to the Whanganui River by legislation that recognised it as a living entity.  The 2,000 square metre pavilion features a visitor experience, a restaurant showcasing New Zealand food and beverage and hosting facilities and is in Expo 2020’s Sustainability District.   


There are three types of tickets. Tickets for a single visit to the exhibition costs Dhs95 ($26), multi-day tickets offering unrestricted entry for 30 consecutive days costs Dhs195 ($53) or you can get a six month pass for Dhs495 ($135).


I am certainly excited to be one of the 30,000 volunteers geared to make Expo 2020 a success. I am keen to see the arts and culture events, the Al Wasl Opera, crafts and design programs and see the stunning art installations.

Expo 2020 will also host a series of talks relating to humanity, wildlife, environment. tolerance and inclusivity, rural development as well as mental health, agricultural, water, digital connectivity and more. We look forward to welcoming you at Expo 2020.

Visitors can indulge the numerous dining and shopping options on site but also enjoy the best of Dubai visiting the Palm, The Dubai Frame, Museum of the Future, Ski Dubai or head out for some exhilarating desert adventures like dune bashing and quad biking. 

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