EXPO-2021 in Dubai

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The highly anticipated Expo-2020 is about to start in Dubai. If you have just moved to the UAE or plan to visit it in the near future, this spectacular event is a must see! Along with many other participating countries from all over the world, the Emirates will represent its most innovative projects and vision for the future. As the host, the country will offer a stream of events from fantastic entertainment shows to business forums for visitors to learn, see, and be inspired by what's on offer. The global exposition will be held from 1st October 2021 until 31st March 2022, which means visitors have half a year to visit the site at any time they find convenient. In this article, we will summarise the main topics of what will be presented at the exhibition, what events can be visited, ticket prices, how to get to the exhibition pavilion, and the best areas to stay in.

About EXPO-2020 in Dubai

The outstanding International Exhibition World Expo has been held every 5 years since 1851 and acts as a platform where different countries of the world can exchange innovative solutions on the most relevant topics and challenges of our time. This is a place where governments, companies, international organizations and citizens get connected and engage in immersive activities. The purpose of a World Expo is to "improve humankind's knowledge" and highlight "scientific, technological, economic and social progress" in different countries of the world.

This mega-event has virtually no competitors in terms of its scale, size, duration and number of visitors worldwide. For the MEASA region (Middle East, Africa and South Asia), this will be the very first exhibition of this kind and it is the largest exhibition since its foundation, which will be attended by 191 participating countries and will be visited by more than 25M people. At the same time, this is a very expensive project: Dubai has already spent about USD 8.2B on the preparations.

The timing of the event was postponed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. For marketing purposes, the organizers have decided to leave the logo "EXPO-2020" unchangeable, though the spectacle is to be held in 2021.

"Connecting minds, Creating the future" is the general theme that Dubai has chosen for Expo 2020, which will address 3 sub-topics: Sustainability, Mobility and Opportunities. During the 6 months, special attention will be given to the global challenges in the fields of healthcare, education, inequality, environmental degradation, and climate change. Within the confines of initiatives, such as Expo Live, innovation and partnership programmes, The World Majlis discussions, and the Expo School Programme, the participants will share opinions and ideas and explore collaborative solutions.

Where will it be Held

The Expo-2020 site is located in the southern part of Dubai, close to the border to Abu Dhabi, namely in the Dubai South district and is easily accessible via various means of transport.

Expo will be open for visitors from 10am until 12am Saturday to Wednesday and from 10am until 2am during Thursday and Friday.

How to Get the Expo-2020 Site

Visitors may choose any of the public transport options to get to the Expo-2020 site such as buses, the metro, and taxis.

Dubai taxis are available by phone or via the mobile apps of RTA (municipal service) and private firms like Careem and Uber.

If you don't want to depend on public transport, you may rent a car. In Dubai you'll find multiple options for car rentals starting from around AED 70 (USD 19) per day for 2 adults (KIA Picanto), AED 550 (USD 150) for 5 adults (Chevrolet Aveo). Those eligible should be older than 21 and have an international driving license.

The exhibition has its own purposefully constructed metro line and is designed to carry 22,000 passengers per hour. There are 7 stations on the line, one of which is the Expo-2020 Metro Station which leads right to the gate of the venue.

It will take around 50 minutes' by car to reach EXPO-2020 from Dubai International Airport (DXB) and 30-40 minutes' if you are travelling from Dubai International Central (DWC). You will need around 1 hour to get from Abu Dhabi International Airport to the Expo site.

Those who drive their own car, can easily reach the site via the major highways of Expo Rd, Zayed Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan Rd and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road. There are plenty of signs dotted along the roads across the city to point you in the right direction.

During the exposition, its visitors (with tickets) may use dedicated Expo Rider buses which are free of charge to get to and from the venue. A total of 580 free buses will be launched by the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority. The vehicles are comfortable and convenient for people of determination with low floors, a ramped access and enough width for 2 wheelchairs.

Parking can be entered from 4 points, which are accessible from the roads of E77, D54 and E311 and is free of charge.

Since Nissan is an official partner of the event, there is a special privilege for car owners of this brand. Owners can leave their vehicles closer to the gate in the Nissan parking spot, located in the Sustainability and Mobility parking areas.

The Expo complex takes up a significant area of more than 1,000 acres. So to simplify moving around, there will be several conveyances available:

  • Car-park shuttles, which will bring people from 4 points from the main parking area to the main gate.
  • Expo People movers – 27 low-floor buses to get around the site for free.
  • Train "Expo Explorer"– offers sightseeing tours around the site and are available for people of determination in wheelchairs.
  • Autonomous vehicles - golf buggies with a driver will be particularly convenient for families with children or for people of determination.

Dates and Programme

The grand opening ceremony will be held on the 30th of September 2021, with access upon invitation.

Expo-2020 has a very eventful calendar for its 182 days. Within this period visitors will see international celebrations, international days, national days and honour days. The hosting country as well as the participants will have a dedicated date to represent its own culture, traditions and share their future aspirations.

The entertainment events include a packed programme, prepared specifically by the UAE with a stream of events from the participating nations. Every day the Expo's stages at Al Wasl Plaza, Jubilee Stage, Dubai Millennium Amphitheater, Ghaf Avenue and other slightly minor grounds will host recurring and special events from morning till night.

The Programme for People and Planet includes a series of workshops, talks and conferences, where the most pressing challenges for humankind will be explored through the prism of culture, economics, society and environment. Additionally, competitions will be held amongst countries (Innovation Impact Programme) and among universities (University Innovation Programme).

Business-related topics will be discussed within the confines of dedicated forums and meetings scheduled for certain dates during the fair. Different-scale enterprises get an excellent opportunity to represent themselves at very best and find like-minded partners and investors.

The core of the exposition is 10 themed weeks addressing the global challenges of:

  • Climate and Biodiversity – 3-9 September, 2021
  • Space – 7-23 October, 2021
  • Urban and Rural Development 31 October-6 November, 2021
  • Tolerance and Inclusivity 14-20 November, 2021
  • Knowledge and Learning 12-18 December, 2021
  • Travel and Connectivity 9-15 January, 2022
  • Global Goals 16-22 January, 2022
  • Health and Wellness 23-29 January, 30 January-5 February, 2022
  • Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods 13-19, 20-26 February, 2022
  • Water 20-26 March, 2022

The closing ceremony is scheduled for the 31st of March.

Participating Countries

The organizers report that around 191 countries will participate in the world fair. Interestingly, the Baden Württemberg will be the only region among the nations. Geographically this region belongs to Germany. Baden-Würtemberg-based enterprises will showcase innovative solutions and ideas in the fields of infrastructure, mobility, architecture, industry 4.0, energy, AI and bio-economy.

In the country pavilions you'll find the most extraordinary experiences. Germany will bring a Beethoven-inspired robo-band that will play famous musical compositions. As well as this, the state will represent the first ropeless elevator MULTY, that can move both vertically and horizontally.

Ukraine will showcase an innovative e-bike that can reach 236 mi through one charge. Visiting the Luxembourg pavilion, you'll be fascinated not only by the visual attractiveness of the exposition, but can also take a speedy slide downstairs inside a tube.

In the UK pavilion, visitors will be invited to create a poetry message to the world and beyond by adding a word. Artificial Intellect will shape the words into couplets and produce a flow of poetry. The country will also bring to the Expo its famous restaurant, called "1851" which is remarkable as 1851 is the year when the 1st Expo was held.

The Netherlands will come with the cone shaped vertical farm, built from locally sourced materials. India has a very rich contest on offer: mega celebrations of Diwali and Holi, along with business showcases and exhibitions displaying the country's achievements from yoga to space exploration.

Ticket Prices and Where to Buy Them

Depending on the number of entries, tickets are available in several categories. Thus, options for 1 adult aged between 18-59 are as follows:

  • An unlimited pass valid for 6 months costs AED 495 (USD 142.91).
  • A multi-day pass, that allows you to visit the event within 30 consecutive days goes for AED 195 (USD 56.3).
  • 1-day entry costs AED 95 (USD 27.43)

There is a special offer for a family seasonal ticket which is priced at AED 1,007.45 (USD 274.27) which includes a pass for 2 adults plus a nanny, a photograph – advance purchase voucher and certain other discounts.

Children under 18, students, people of determination, and citizens over 60 years have the right to visit Expo for free. Companions of people of determination are granted a 50% discount and will pay AED 45 (USD 12.99). Individuals who come under these categories are requested to obtain tickets at the gate, either way.

You can buy tickets at the cash desk at the Expo or online via the official EXPO website. Print copy is not essential, as you can access your ticket on your phone. It is also possible to buy them in your home country via accredited travel operators or MICE companies (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibitions) as part of a touristic package. The full list of authorized resellers may be seen on the official site of the event.

Expo 2020 mobile app will be yet another option to buy tickets. The app is planned to launch in September 2021.

Other types of tickets are available to buy from the official resellers of the event.

Note: The organizers will draw 50 tickets for the opening ceremony, which will be held on October 1, 2021. The draw will be open to all UAE residents over the age of 18 and who have purchased a season or family pass for the exhibition before August 14, 2021.

Master-plan of EXPO-2020

The site for the exposition covers a significant 1,100 acres and houses an extraordinary complex: a round-shaped Al Wasl Plaza as the center and 3 thematic districts set around it like petals. The centerpiece was purposefully called Al Wasl, after the historic name for Dubai, which means "connection". The plaza is covered by a magnificent trellis, which is a 360-degree projection surface, the largest in the world.

Thematic areas include country pavilions, and for the first time in the history of the event, all participating countries will have their own pavilions, which will be grouped according to the presented sub-topics, and not according to their geographical location.

In addition, the following will be presented separately in the partners' pavilions: DP World, ENOC and Emirates. Pavilions of organizations: African Union Pavilion, Dubai Cares Pavilion and special Expo-owned pavilions, including the Good Place Pavilion by Expo Live, Alif, Mission Possible, Terra and the Women's Pavilion.

There are also multiple stages, recreational areas, parks, retail venues and an impressive choice of F&B options with around 200 outlets.

The supporting infrastructure is an Expo-2020 village for staff and participants, as well as warehouses, logistic venues and much more, which all. lie outside the gate.

Districts and Pavilions

Opportunity, Sustainability and Mobility – these are the Expo-2020 districts. Each of them will be anchored by the thematic pavilion.

Opportunity

The Opportunity District offers a platform for people to exchange ideas, get inspiration and create connections. Under the slogan "Mission Possible" the dedicated Opportunity Pavilion will showcase how individual decisions and collaborative work may unlock the potential to make positive changes and form a collective future.

The UAE pavilion is one of 3 icons of Expo-2020. It is shaped like a falcon in flight and appears to be the largest in the district. Its 4 levels will house exhibitions, which tell the story about the UAE's history, cultural heritage and technological progress. The top floor is dedicated to hospitality space with F&B outlets and VIP lounges. The structure also meets the LEED Platinum building standards.

Saudi Arabia has built the 2nd largest pavilion in this district. Its size is equal to 2 soccer pitches and looks like an unfolding façade that opens up like a window looking into the future. This symbolizes the country's openness to the outer world: business and tourism.

The high-tech 3-dimensional exterior of the Japan pavilion repeats traditional arabesque and Japanese patterns of Origami. Interestingly it replicates traditional Islamic architecture that offered effective protection against intense sunlight for centuries. Japan will also demonstrate a natural cooling system, built on the basis of Arab and Japanese techniques.

Sustainability

Walking around the Sustainability area you will come across a fantastic 427 ft-wide canopy, producing solar energy with 18 rotating energy palm-trees and see innovative irrigation techniques as well as an amazing sculpture of Hammour House. The latter is created by the Australian artist, Sue Ryan for the UAE pavilion. It is proposed to be further complemented by visitors who attend workshops onsite.

The Sustainability Pavilion – Terra, tells the story of people's interaction with nature, namely looking at what countries are doing to succeed in sustainability. An outstanding pavilion will be introduced by Singapore which will reflect the notion of a "city in a garden", applied to the state. Inside visitors will find themselves in an evergreen forest with myriads species of orchids topped with famous hanging gardens. In the middle, an installation of 30 ft high Garden Cones will take center stage.

One of the "special" pavilions – the Women's Pavilion is located in this district. It is entirely dedicated to women's contribution to the prosperity and development of humankind.

Mobility

In the Mobility District visitors may learn about the latest developments in the fields of autonomous vehicles usage, virtual and real mobility and space programmes, including the UAE National Space Programme and the Mars Mission.

Alif, The Mobility Pavilion highlights the most innovative solutions for movement of people, goods and data both physically and virtually. The pavilion itself is one of the most impressive structures in the Expo which has a giant trefoil, covered by stainless-steel fins. A 1082 ft-long track will be installed, where innovative mobility devices will be demonstrated in action.

Oman has built one of the most extraordinary pavilions and is located in the Mobility District. Its shape is reminiscent of Boswellia sacra, the tree producing frankincense. This resin plays a crucial role in the Sultanate life and 5 zones of the pavilion will display how the country has progressed through the exploration of frankincense.

Future of Expo 2020 area

As per the official source of data, after the event, District 2020 will evolve into a mixed-use urban area called "smart city", that curates enterprises and works with advanced technologies. Moreover, the district will be an entire ecosystem, comprising different sized companies working in converging fields such as smart logistics, digital healthcare, AI, IoT, etc. The first Anchor tenant is Siemens, with others including the China-based Terminus Technologies, R&D.

COVID-19 Environment

The organizers express there will be the highest level of safety provided during the exposition. Healthcare precautions were elaborated under the latest guidance of the world's leading medical and science experts.

As per the organizing committee, both local and overseas visitors are not required to deliver certificates of vaccination against COVID-19, however visitors will pass through thermal cameras at all entrance points to check their temperature. It is strongly recommended to wear masks and use hand sanitizers, dotted all around and observe social distancing, following the marks on the floor and ground in all areas. Onsite there will be medical facilities available as well as professional healthcare staff.

It is also worth noting that by the end of July 2021, over 70% of the UAE population had already received 2 doses of vaccine. What's more, in April, 2021 Expo's vaccination programme was announced, which covered all official representatives of the countries participating in Expo 2020.

Entertainment for People

Coming to Expo-2020 you will immerse yourself in the world of spectacular performances and amazing shows of different cultures. Daily programmes of the half-year-long fair comprises about 60 of live performances by A-list stars and young talents from different parts of the world. Among ambassadors for the event are, Lionell Messi; a global football icon and Hussain Al Jassmi; an Emirati singer. The voice of the Expo-2020 advertisements belongs to Will.i.am, an American rapper and a member of The Black Eyed Peas.

The list of celebrities, roped in for the world fair, starts with Mariah Carey. The American singer performed at the "One Year to Go" commencement show a year prior to the Expo-2020. Ludovico Einaudi, who is an Italian pianist and composer, will be one of the musical highlights of the event. Melanie Laurent, a French actress, will curate the content for the Women's Pavilion. Popular boy bands such as Six60 from New Zealand and Stray Kids from South Korea are also coming to spice things up at Expo-2020.

Every day from morning till night Al Wasl Plaza will host 6 unique shows:

  • Global Awakening – sounds of awakening world.
  • National and Honour Day Ceremonies at 10.15am. – participating countries represent their culture and traditions through song and dance.
  • Expo Young Stars (Jan-March 2022) – performances by UAE students.
  • Music in the Gardens at 3.00pm – live concerts.
  • Awakening of Al Wasl at sunsets – history of humanity in images.
  • Ousha and the Moon at evening hours – 10-min projection of a mesmerizing storytelling about the Emirati poetess Ousha Bint Khalifa Al Suwaidi.

The other grounds, such as Dubai Millennium Amphitheater, Jubilee Stage, Ghaf avenue, and 2020 plaza will host regular events all day long as well.

Apart from regular performances, visitors may attend the digital theatre, acrobat shows, poetry recitals and comedy shows, street art and fashion shows, cultural festivals and parades. There will be amazing pyrotechnic displays and VR spectacles conducted as well. Additionally, adults and children can engage in various sports including virtual games.

Notably, Expo-2020 will hear the 1st in history national opera, composed by the American composer, Mohammed Fairouz whichwill be a 2-hour production, engaging 100 artists and musicians.

Visitors coming to the event will have a unique opportunity to try over 50 global cuisines gathered in one place. Some countries offer traditional meals in their pavilions, along with multiple F&B corners onsite.

Shops across the site will offer an array of products from clothing to keepsakes to buy as a memory of this iconic event.

Where you Can Stay

Choosing the best places to stay when visiting Expo-2020, you may first consider the nearest areas of Dubai South, Jumeirah Village Circle (JVC) and Discovery Gardens. These neighbourhoods lie within 15-minutes' of the Expo site if you go by car. Additionally, a metro line is available here as well. You may also opt for Dubai Investment Park, Al Furjan, Jebel Ali, Dubai Motor City, Dubai Production City and Dubai Sports City which are all located nearby and easily accessible.

The bracket for daily rental rates in Dubai South, (the Expo home district), start from around AED 125-250 (USD 34-68). To compare, the top end of the short-term rental market in Dubai, daily rates can easily exceed AED 10,000 (USD 2,700). For instance, you may rent a 1-bed furnished apartment of 633 sq. ft. in size at MAG 5, Dubai South 1 (15 minutes' to Expo Center by car) for AED 180 (USD 49) per day.

In Discovery Gardens, Jebel Ali Village, a studio of 493 sq. ft. is offered for AED 200 (USD 55) daily rate. This community lies 15 minutes' away from the Expo site and also has a metro station.

Al Furjan is situated next to Discovery Gardens and has easy access to the metro station as well. Those who are traveling with a family may opt for a 2-bedroom apartment and can expect to pay AED 300 (USD 82) daily.

Dubai Production City is located nearby and reachable within 15-20 minutes' by car. Here a 1-bedroom apartment covering 850 sq. ft. goes for AED 4,400 (USD 1,200) monthly.

Dubai Investment Park is yet another neighbouring area located in close proximity to the site (15-minutes). Furnished studios for monthly rentals are offered from AED 6,000 (USD 1,600).

Since the event is due to start in 2 months it might not be as simple as one might have thought to find suitable accommodation near the Expo-2020 site. It would be wise for a foreigner to contact a local real estate expert to find short-term housing for the duration of their trip. Contrary to popular belief, that real estate agencies are needed for long-term rental only, still they are more than capable and happy to assist in this type of rental as well.

For those who prefer staying in a hotel, there is a perfect option right on the Expo site; the Rove EXPO 2020 Hotel which will open on the 1 of October and will offer exceptional accommodation in the form of 331 rooms and suites. A suite is offered for AED 1,479 (USD 368) per night. There are a number of new iconic hotels across the city that have been exclusively launched for the Expo-2020: ME Dubai in the Opus Tower (30 minutes' away from the Expo Center), Corinthia Meydan Beach (15 minutes' away), and Legoland Hotel (30 minutes' away). More affordable accommodation may be found in 3-star hotels, where 1 night in October will cost at around AED 254 (USD 70 (Parkside Hotel Apartments, 15 minutes' from the site by car).

Conclusion

  1. Dubai Expo-2020 will take place on 1 October, 2021 and last for 182 days until the end of March, 2022.
  2. The world fair is proposed to establish an effective interaction between countries, participants and individuals. It heightens global awareness of pressing challenges and issues and stimulates further progress to address these issues. Expo gives an excellent opportunity for start-ups and innovations to be recognized.
  3. The main themes of the exposition are Opportunity, Sustainability and Mobility, all united by the slogan "Connecting minds, creating the future".
  4. Expo-2020 promises to be the most colourful and spectacular mega-event in the region.
  5. A unique feature of the Expo-2020 is the highest level of sustainability of the project.
  6. The organizers guarantee unprecedented anti-COVID safety precautions.
  7. Considering the site's location, the most preferable areas to stay during Expo-2020 are Dubai South, Jumeirah Village Circle (JVC) and Discovery Gardens.

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