On 27 November 2013, fireworks painted the sky from the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, as thousands across the UAE celebrated. A national holiday was even declared for all educational institutions across the country. We were overjoyed that we won the bid and would soon be ‘Connecting Minds and Creating the Future’ with the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region.
If travel is the best teacher in life, then Expo 2020 is the perfect place to be educated. Just imagine who you’ll meet and what you’ll experience as you explore the world in one place. Expo will welcome 190+ countries – never in history have so many nations and so many cultures gathered together at a World Expo to do so much good for so many people. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, a feast for all of your senses, and an opportunity for us all to come together today to reimagine the world of tomorrow.
“Connected thinking is the best hope for progress, and for successful and peaceful existence in the generations to come.” These wise words from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, ring true in all of the partnerships we have forged. By collaborating with our partners and all of our participants, we seek to build a better future for everyone while creating real impact that transforms our dreams into realities.
There was once nothing here but sand and one lone ghaf tree. You would almost think it was a mirage, when mere months later an entire world began rising from the desert. Everything in the 4.38 sqkm site is built with forethought and a future purpose. But it wasn’t just Expo 2020 Dubai that was emerging – there’s also hotels, highways and roads, a new Metro line extension, as Dubai and the UAE prepare to welcome the world.
Let the countdown begin! From Al Ain to Fujairah, the air was thick with anticipation as all seven emirates eagerly watched the numbers on the clock. With one year to go before opening our doors on 20 October 2020, it was a celebration unlike any other – headlined by global superstar Mariah Carey and Emirati favourite Hussain Al Jassmi, plus performances from local artists and entertainment for the entire family.
It felt like the plot of a sci-fi story, an invisible enemy that brought the entire world to its knees. It didn’t feel real at first – we all went through denial; we felt the panic and experienced loss. But COVID-19 also showed us the beauty of humanity, that there will always be kindness and light amid chaos. We delayed Expo 2020 by one year, but our purpose of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ resonates even more strongly as the world rebuilds.
Expo will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience to bring the world together again – and we can’t wait to welcome you when we open our doors on 1 October 2021. In a safe environment, we will provide a launch pad for the global collaboration we need most right now – a chance for humanity to convene in a spirit of optimism, hope and shared purpose to exchange inspiring new ideas and new perspectives, with an emphasis on our three subthemes – Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability. Coinciding with the UAE’s 50th anniversary in 2021, we hope to spark innovations that will kick-start another 50 years of purposeful progress, contributing to the nation’s continued prosperity and enabling growth in the region and beyond.
Our doors will never really close. We will continue connecting minds and creating the future together, and even after the exhibits are gone, your experience will remain forever. The physical site will transform into District 2020, a model global community for the future and home to world-class innovation, educational, cultural and entertainment facilities. The connections we will all make, our hopes and aspirations, and the opportunity to experience the innovation, ideas, cultures and traditions of 190+ participating countries will all translate into building a better tomorrow for all of humanity. This is our legacy.