With 192 participating countries, more than 50 international cuisines, 60 live events and an expected 25 million visitors — the upcoming Expo 2020 in Dubai is turning out to be among the biggest international events held in this part of the world. The 192-country participation surpasses the 180-nation commitment made in Dubai’s 2013 host bid, say its organisers.
“Expo 2020 will move away from traditional geographical clusters and band together countries facing similar challenges within the three subthemes: opportunity, mobility and sustainability,” said Sanjive Khosla, chief commercial officer, Expo 2020, who was in Delhi on Tuesday.
Every participating country will have its own pavilion for the first time in the 168-year history of World Expos. While many have already revealed the design and theme, others are giving final touches to their concept, ahead of the six-month-long event, which kicks off on October 20, 2020. For instance, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Pavilion will showcase the Kingdom’s rich heritage and openness to businesses and tourists, while the UK Pavilion is inspired by a project from the late scientist Stephen Hawking. The India Pavilion — being supervised by FICCI — will be based on the theme of future, adds Khosla.
Expo 2020 will also be an F&B destination in its own right, with more than 200 outlets serving more than 50 kinds of global cuisines. There will be more than 60 live events each day for 173 days, featuring prominent international artistes. Named after the Arabic word for ‘connection’, Al Wasl Plaza will be the centrepiece of Expo 2020, hosting major ceremonies and celebrations during and after Expo. “After April 2021, the 4.38 sq km site will be transformed into District 2020, a world-class integrated community that will reuse at least 80 per cent of Expo’s built environment,” explained Khosla.
In April 2019, Ernst & Young published an independent report that stated that Expo 2020 Dubai and its legacy are expected to contribute AED122.6 billion to the UAE’s economy from 2013–31. A lot of this financial fillip will come in through tourism, as Dubai expects to welcome 25 million visits between October 2020 and April 2021. Speaking on the tourism aspect, Issam Kazim, chief operating officer, Dubai Tourism, said, “Dubai has immense possibilities for visitors before, during and after the Expo ... When we started off many years ago with the Dubai Shopping Festival, it set the scene for Dubai to attract visitors for a specific event.”
At any given time, someone comes to Dubai, there is always some celebration, he added. For instance, we celebrate Diwali in a big way, and as soon as it’s over, there’s the UAE National Day celebrations, followed by Chinese New year, he remarked. He spoke about new attractions for repeat visitors in Dubai, including the adventure activities in the Hatta area, the new offerings for art and culture aficionados in the old part of the city, and new restaurants. “Besides, there’s always the retail calendar which pulls a lot of visitors from India,” said Kazim.
The World Expo is one of the world’s oldest and largest international events, taking place every five years and lasting six months. The first World Expo was London’s Great Exhibition of 1851. The Expo 2020 theme, ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, is based on the belief that innovation and progress are the result of people and ideas coming together.