Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 16 December 2019

Missed the pyramids at Giza? Then come to Expo 2020, will.i.am tells world

Rapper is the face of Dubai's massive new international ad campaign

The voice is unmistakable, the message intriguing. “You weren’t there when humans conquered fire,” will.i.am raps over an image of a caveman.

"You weren’t there when they first made paper,” he continues. “You weren’t there when they invented algebra, built the pyramids at Giza or painted the Mona Lisa.”

The teaser ad has been playing to audiences in British cinemas for the past month. And not just in the UK. In Germany it is “Du warst nicht dabei.” In Spanish it becomes “Tú no estabas ahi.”

There is also a Chinese and an Arabic version, this one narrated by the Emirati performer Hussain Al Jassmi.

"Whatever you missed in the past, you can be there for Dubai Expo 2020", the “World’s Greatest Show," will.i.am raps in the 65-second commercial.

“See a futurist festival filled with ideas new and radical, performances magical, in a six-month long spectacle.”

With less than a year to go before the Expo, Dubai is telling the world to start planning a trip, with the launch of an international advertising campaign that will play in 29 markets and 14 different languages and can also be viewed on its YouTube channel.

It underlines the ambition of Expo 2020, which will open next October and continue into March 2021.

“We want to encourage people from around the world to come to learn, discover, and be inspired by how collaboration and an innovative spirit is helping to make the world a better place, one global goal at a time," said Najeeb Mohammed Al-Ali, executive director of the Expo 2020 Dubai Bureau.

Organisers are expecting 25 million visits, around 150,000 a day, or equal to the population of Dubai every two weeks.

They anticipate this will be more than the combined number of tickets sold for the Fifa World Cups in South Africa and Brazil, and the summer Olympics in London and Rio de Janeiro.

Dubai has already made it clear that the Expo is open to anyone in the world who wants to come or participate, with 192 countries taking part.

As well as promoting the image of the emirate and the rest of the UAE, it is expected to provide a major economic boost.

The consulting and professional service firm EY, formerly Ernst & Young, published a report in April calculating that Expo would contribute Dh122.6 billion to the UAE economy by 2031.

The six month event is also expected to add an extra 1.5 per cent to the country’s annual forecast GPD.

To make this happen, international visitors are key, filling hotel rooms, buying flights, eating in restaurants and shopping at the malls.

Its legacy should support 53,000 jobs a year, even after Expo 2020 has concluded, with the knock-on effect boosting sectors from transport and construction to education and real estate.

The spending by Dubai on Expo 2020 has been calculated at just over Dh33bn by financial consultants Deloitte.

Expo officials have identified a number of key markets they want to make a priority in terms of visitor numbers. They include the UK, France, Germany and Ireland, and beyond Europe to the Russian Federation, India, China, and Saudi Arabia.

In terms of countries taking part, Dubai will be larger than any previous Expo or World’s Fair, eclipsing even the 170 members of the Bureau International des Expositions, which presents awards for the event.

Organisers hope it will be as memorable and successful as many of the most famous in the past, including the 1939 World’s Fair in New York and Expo 67 in Canada, the last time the number of visitors outnumbered the country’s population.

As will.i.am puts it: “This, you can’t afford to miss. It’s the best of humankind, in the greatest show of our time.”

Updated: November 21, 2019 03:09 PM

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