Expo 2020

World Expo 2020 Dubai
In November 2013, Dubai won the bid to host the World Expo 2020. Fireworks erupted from the Burj Khalifa and the ruler of Dubai promised that the city would ‘astonish the world.’

What is the Expo?
Every five years and for a period of six months, World Expos attract millions of visitors. Also known as the World’s Fair, it is an event that has been around for over 150 years. It is similar to the Olympic Games, except that instead of sports, it’s about science, technology, culture and economics. The World Expo is effectively the largest mix of trade exhibitions or world fairs and is not by any means a new concept, with the first noted World Expo being hosted in London in 1851. Indeed, previous Expos have yielded legacies such as the Eiffel Tower, the telephone, ice cream and Heinz tomato ketchup. 
 
Plans and development
While the majority of the design and construction of the Expo site is still in its infancy, organisers have reported that the site for the World Expo 2020 Dubai will be at Dubai Trade Center – Jebel Ali: a 438 hectare site on the south western edge of Dubai which is set to be one of the largest ever developed for a World Expo. Equidistant from the centres of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the site is located next to the new Al Maktoum International Airport and also located in close proximity to Jebel Ali Port, the third busiest port in the world.  

What to expect
The theme for World Expo 2020 Dubai is Connecting Minds, Creating the Future – a nod to the importance of fostering partnerships and innovation to build a sustainable world today and in the future. 
 
Designed by architectural firm HOK, the sprawling new district features three main pavilions designed to symbolise opportunity, sustainability and mobility with ‘innovation pods’ and ‘best practice areas’ in each thematic zone. Different areas will be linked by walkways that are inspired by the layout of a traditional Arabic souk but their construction is set to be futuristic.

A photovoltaic fabric structure is said to cover the walkways acting as a solar-powered sun shade capable of absorbing energy and supplying half the Expo’s power requirements. At night, the fabric will act as a canvas for light displays and digital projections. At the core of the site there’s said to be an open plaza called Al Wasl which is Arabic for ‘the connection’ – again in keeping with Dubai’s Connecting Minds, Creating the Future theme – that will act as the central souk. 
 
The plan for what to do with the site when the Expo closes is currently a hot topic for discussion. Recent news suggests that the organisers have agreed to combine the three major pavilions – the Welcome Pavilion, the Innovation Pavilion and the UAE’s Pavilion – and transform them into one structure: the Museum of the Future.
 
The region’s first
World Expo 2020 Dubai is the first to be held in the MENASA (Middle East, North Africa and South Asia) region. As the global community faces ever more complex and increasingly interconnected challenges, the links between people, societies and ideas have never been more important. The Expo promises to be a platform for connectivity to help pioneer new partnerships for growth and sustainability for the future.

It was reported that the last Expo held in Shanghai in 2010 received over 73 million visitors from 250 countries. The site that showcased this phenomenon measured a massive 5.28sq km, and a new record attendance for a single day was set with more than 1.03 million people visiting the site. These numbers, by any standard, are hugely impressive, and an indicator of how important for the local economy the winning vote is to Dubai – especially when you consider the reported profits reached in excess of US$157 million for the Expo alone.

It is already predicted that there will be an influx to the region of 25 million visitors going through the turnstiles in Dubai. The knock-on effect is a predicted 277,000 jobs created for the region and a huge boost not only to the ensuing job market, but for the infrastructure of Dubai. With Al Maktoum International Airport’s ambitious plans to overtake the likes of London Heathrow in the coming years, and its central location here in the Middle East, it is easy to see why this is the perfect platform and opportunity in which to raise the bar. 
 
For updated information on news and events for the Expo, check out expo2020dubai.ae.

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