The energy, optimism and cultural exchanges of Expo 2020 Dubai will inspire and unite countries
The groundwork for a long-lasting expo legacy has already begun
When Queen Victoria’s consort Prince Albert organised the Great Exhibition in 1851, the aim was “gathering together into one place the best specimens of contemporary art and skill”. Since then the world has witnessed more than 75 expositions, from Seattle to Madrid, Antwerp to Paris, each celebrating the very best of the innovation, design, industry, art and culture of its time. Among the recent inventions showcased and drawing crowds were the typewriter in Philadelphia in 1876, the diesel engine in Paris in 1900 and the colour television in New York in 1964. At Expo 2020 Dubai – now just over 900 days away – it could be flying cars and a showcase of the mission to Mars.
This week Luxembourg became the first country to begin erecting its pavilion. The nation was, symbolically, behind the steel and coated glass used to construct the Burj Khalifa, where fireworks were set off in 2013 when Dubai first won the bid to host the global event. “We renew our promise to astonish the world in 2020,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, at the time. Work underway at the site, which will include a 65-metre-high dome with a capacity to host 10,000 people, is already giving shape to that vow. But the importance of Expo 2020 Dubai transcends its structure. This is the first world expo in the Middle East and speaks volumes about how far the UAE has come. For those in this region, the extravaganza will be a window to the world. And for the millions who travel to Dubai, it will be a window onto the very best the Arab world has to offer.
Sheikh Zayed built this country on the values of tolerance and co-operation. Expo 2020 Dubai, which will feature 180 countries, 30,000 volunteers and 25 million visitors, is a tangible realisation of that vision. As the 4,000-year-old relic that inspired the expo’s logo demonstrates, the UAE has long been a meeting point for civilisations. In an often divided region, the energy, optimism and cultural exchanges of Expo 2020 Dubai will inspire and unite countries, with a legacy that will last for years.