Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 14 December 2019

Watch: what the Expo 2020 site looks like right now – we take a bus tour

This summer, residents and tourists can see the Dubai construction site as it grows, in free open-top, double decker bus trips.

October 2020 will be here before we know it, and many UAE residents don't yet know what they can actually expect from Expo 2020.

We all know that it is expected to attract millions of guests to Dubai – 25 million to be precise – and that more than 130 countries will be represented at their own pavilions, but it can be difficult to grasp the size and magnitude of the project.

Cue the Expo 2020 site bus tour. This summer, residents and tourists can see the Dubai construction site as it grows, in free open-top, double decker bus trips.

This week we took one of the first tours, to see exactly what guests can expect.

People get on the bus for a tour of the Expo 2020 site. Chris Whiteoak / The National
People get on the bus for a tour of the Expo 2020 site. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Disclaimer: it is hot. When taking an open-top bus tour of a UAE site in the middle of summer, high temperatures shouldn't really come as a surprise, especially for passengers who opt to sit in the outside section of the top deck.

Even though three quarters of the bus is air conditioned, the double decker can still get very warm. However, guests taking the tours will be given a choice between the picture-perfect open-top bus, or a more generously air-conditioned coach, according to one member of the Expo 2020 staff we chatted to.

What will you see on the Expo 2020 site tour?

The tour will give you some perspective of the magnitude of the Expo 2020 site.

You meet in the visitor centre, where you can walk around a mini-Expo 2020 museum which introduces you to the three distinct districts – Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability.

When the tour begins, an expert guide will talk you through the progress of the site. We were impressed to see just how far along some of the permanent structures are, as well as infrastructure like the roads and bridges.

You will get a good insight into the development of Al Wasl Plaza, the heart of the Expo 2020 site, as well as the new and enormous Dubai Exhibition Centre and the progress of the UAE's own pavilion.

A look at the progress the Sustainability pavilion at the Expo 2020 construction site. Chris Whiteoak / The National
A look at the progress of Terra, The Sustainability pavilion on the Expo 2020 construction site. Chris Whiteoak / The National

The hubs for each of the districts are also making impressive headway. The Sustainability pavilion is taking shape, as is the Mobility pavilion. When Expo 2020 finishes in April 2021, it is hoped that the Sustainability pavilion will become a permanent science museum.

What kind of entertainment we can expect at Expo 2020

If your preconception of Expo 2020 is that it will be an international trade and business show, think again. Much of the conversation on the tour focused on the expected entertainment. There will also be massive parks, shopping areas and plenty of food and drink from around the world to try.

The tour team also teased that there will be exciting musical acts. Nothing has been confirmed yet, but it sounds like some major talent could be on its way to the city; our tour guide asked who we'd like to see come to the UAE to perform at Expo 2020, before telling the crowd that he would like to see Beyoncé, so if that is anything to go on, set your standards high.

Inside the Expo 2020 Visitor Centre

We have mentioned that the tour starts at the Expo 2020 Visitor Centre, and it is well worth making time to fully explore it. It starts with a visual history of the emirate of Dubai, before introducing guests to what they can expect from each of the three districts and some of the experiences that will be available. There is also a slide in the centre.

On the Expo 2020 tour visitors can see displays from previous fairs. Ketchup, for example, was introduced to the world at Expo 1893 in Chicago. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Tomato ketchup was introduced to the public at the Chicago World Expo in 1893 by Henry John Heinz. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Most interesting of all is the room dedicated to Expo inventions of the past; the fact that everything from tomato ketchup and ice cream cones to X-ray machines and mobile phones were first introduced to the public at past World Expos. We wonder what will be introduced to the world in 2020?

The free Expo 2020 bus tours are currently fully booked, but organisers are working on arranging more tours.

They will run on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, until August 31. Visit www.expo2020dubai.com/hayyakum for more information

Updated: August 1, 2019 03:09 PM

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