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    From sport and music stars to activists: Expo 2020 Dubai impresses the world

    Cristiano Ronaldo, Malala Yousafzai and Alicia Keys were among the top names to visit the site over the six months
    4 min read
    Cristiano Ronaldo at Al Wasl
    Over the last six months, Expo 2020 Dubai has opened its iconic portal gates to everyone, receiving visitors from every area of the globe from diverse backgrounds with many stories to tell and experiences to share.

    From sports stars and singers, to leaders from the world of business and politics, and those carving the way for changes in environmental behaviour and women’s rights, they have all spent time at this once-in-a-lifetime Expo, making their own mark, and learning and enjoying what others had to offer.

    Here is what some of them had to say:

    Amina J Mohammed, Deputy Secretary General, United Nations, said: "At a time when there is a dark cloud, you have presented a real vision for what we can do to recover better, for how the world can look beyond the UAE – beyond your neighbourhood – into this global community. You’ve given hope and a sense of dignity to everyone that has participated in this Expo."

    Footballing superstar Cristiano Ronaldo said: “I think Dubai do unbelievable work to make all these countries [come] together – 192 different cultures, different mentalities, so it’s great … It’s amazing to put all cultures together to learn [from] each other. I think it’s fantastic.”

    Pakistani activist for female education, Malala Yousafzai, said: “When young girls visit the pavilions, they are learning something and can picture themselves in leadership roles. This is the message we send to our future generation: girls and boys can do anything, and gender should not be preventing them from any role they aspire to.”

    Multi Grammy winning musician Jacob Collier, said: “I love the let-your-imagination-run-wild approach to everything - the architecture, the tech, the design of the place … the curves and edges, and the global nature of it. As a musician, I’ve always been ravenous for all the flavours from all the places, so this is an amazing space where you can get a pocket version of each of these. Whenever I poke my head into any environment around here, I’m inspired by something new. It is a world that revolves around tech and imagination, but the human spirit prevails throughout.”

    Two-time World Champion heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua, said: “Boxing is a sport that doesn't discriminate. It's a sport that [welcomes] anyone, because it's one of the sports that is not about your wealth, it's not about your gender. It's not about anything, if you’ve got the skill, you can make it. So for me, female, male, anyone can do well in boxing. Sport has been used for many, many years to try and unite … people across the world. So I think sports, especially boxing, can and do play a big role.”

    Tennis coach Judy Murray said: “You have a huge opportunity at Expo to showcase the women’s side of everything, whether that is culture, education, business, research, science, sport… For me, it’s all about visibility. If you can see it, you can be it. So much of Expo has highlighted the significant impact that women have made in so many and varied ways in the world, and will continue to make – so long as we are given the chance to do so. That’s a big thing for International Women’s Day and breaking the bias – it’s about shining a spotlight on women’s achievements to show girls what’s possible.”

    Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Alicia Keys said: “Expo 2020 knows no borders; it is envisioning a future we all want to create. To me it’s about innovation, creating dreams and making realities out of dreams. This is one of the things I love about the UAE. Opportunity is about creating the world you want to live in and creating what you want to experience to bring out the best of yourself. Every time I come here, it’s about progression and what can be created. I find that very inspiring. It’s one of the fastest-growing creative hubs of the world, and I really resonate with that. All the countries coming together at Expo 2020 have different cultures, but we can occupy the same space with love and respect.”

    Former Nasa astronaut Captain Scott Kelly, said: “I think it’s great to have the Expo here in Dubai. I love this city, and to have all of these other countries from around the world come together and showcase what is great about them, what they’re doing and how that’s benefiting all of us. I feel completely safe – not only pandemic-wise, but in every way. This is probably one of the safest places I’ve visited.”

    Lebanese singer Diana Haddad said: “Expo 2020 Dubai is a vibrant event that relates to everyone, regardless of their nationality or cultural background. This global mega-event is relevant not only to the UAE but to the whole world. The UAE is a country of peace, love, security and safety. It’s the country of happiness. This is the message I want to convey through my music. We need peace now more than ever, and it is amazing that the UAE can attract people from all over the word. And we’ve waited a long time for this event, so this is an amazing experience, and the whole world is taking note.”

    Former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund and President of European Central Bank Christine Lagarde, said: “This is a time when we need not only signals, but commitment and action by leaders, governments, institutions, businesses, civil society and individuals alike to close the gender inequality gap. The Women’s Pavilion is the first standalone World Expo pavilion dedicated to women in recent history. That is the right step.”