On 27 November 2013, Dubai, the city that over the last 40 years or so has probably best incarnated the progressive spirit of Expos, overtook Yekaterinburg (Russia), İzmir (Turkey) and São Paulo (Brazil) to win the right to host the 2020 World Expo – the first-ever to be organized and staged in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENA & SA) region. Matteo Pederzoli reports
Between 20 October 2020 and 10 April 2021, this universal Expo will bring together more than 180 nations and an international audience of 25 million visitors, in what (in typical Dubai superlative style) is already shaping up as one of the greatest shows on Earth.
On a 438 hectare site, that is as large as Disneyland in Los Angeles, located midway between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and connected to three international airports (including a work-in-progress brand new third one) and a dedicated transport network, Expo will provide visitors with the chance to see spectacular architecture, merge with global cultures, examine thoughtful and thought provoking exhibitions, and taste food from every corner of the globe. Above all, visitors to the event will witness the very latest in thinking and technology all in one place and at one time.
Carrying the universal theme that applies to all humanity of “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”, Expo 2020 is already at work to prepare for an event that will entice and amaze those who visit, providing a sense of wonder at the ability of people, working together – connecting diversity – to envisage and achieve a better tomorrow. The nations and organisations that take part in Expo, and the millions who visit, will explore the power of connections across the spheres of Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability – Expo 2020’s three subthemes. Accordingly, the master plan of the Expo site, designed by the US firm HOK, is organised around a central plaza, named Al Wasl (meaning “the connection” in Arabic language), enclosed by three large pavilions, each one dedicated to one of the sub-themes.
In addition, Dubai already unveiled The Hyperloop project. The ultrafast transport system that runs passenger and cargo pods at speeds of around 1,200 kmph will serve Expo 2020.
“In today’s highly interconnected world, a renewed vision of progress and development based on shared purpose and commitment is key. While a single human mind, an individual country, or a specific community is both unique and remarkable, it is by working collaboratively that we truly advance,” Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said in support of the bid.
The staging of the world fair and the preparations leading up to it are expected to result in 277,000 new jobs in the United Arab Emirates, an injection of nearly EUR 40 billion into the economy, and an increase in visitors of at least 25 million and up to 100 million. Along with the world’s largest Solar Power Project, the world’s tallest commercial tower, which is being built in Dubai, was given the name “Burj 2020” in honor of the World Expo 2020. In addition to making sizeable financial investments, Dubai is also keen on giving equal prominence to public relationships via the Dubai Happiness Agenda initiative, which has 16 programmes under four themes that sums up 82 projects to be set in the city with an aim to make the city the happiest by 2020! In parallel, by 2021, the Municipality of Dubai aims to become a world reference for developing Dubai as a pioneer Smart and Sustainable global city.
With little less than four years to opening, the following countries, some of which are traditionally Expo-shy, have already confirmed participation: The Bahamas, Bahrain, Greece, Kenya, Kuwait, Italy, Indonesia, Luxembourg, Maldives, The Netherlands, the UK, Slovenia and Switzerland.
If your organisation is ready to join in and benefit from the Expo public relations boost, start by checking eligibility for the Expo Live Innovation Impact Grants, a EUR 100 million program open amongst others to associations. The initiative aims to create partnerships, incentivize new solutions or scale up existing solutions that could benefit the lives of millions of people around the world.
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