Inside the Ongoing Dubai Expo 2020!
One of the grandest events ever to be held in Dubai has to be the ongoing Dubai Expo 2020, with the theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’.
Although it was slotted for October 2020, due to the pandemic the dates were pushed to October 2021- March 2022, a six-month window for Dubai to showcase 192 countries’ pavilions at this mega event.
The area distributed to the Expo site in the south of Dubai is about 45 minutes away from the city center and very easily accessible by car, dedicated buses, taxis, and above all the Metro, which is a boon for most tourists to travel in comfort right to the entrance of the Expo. Car parking facilities in all the zones are adequate with feeder buses every 15 minutes to transport one to the main entrance.
The operating hours are from 10 am till midnight but all country, pavilions close at 10 pm, while the recreational facilities like restaurants, bars, and musical events are ongoing daily till midnight with international and regional artists performing at different venues.
One can purchase entry tickets/passes online or at the venue. Senior citizens and kids are allowed free entry. All passengers arriving by Emirates Airlines are offered a free one-day passage to the Expo. One can avail daily, or season pass tickets. Currently, the entry ticket prices have been reduced till the end of March.
As one makes their way to enter the venue of Dubai Expo you are met with local greetings, Emirati music, and folk dancers welcoming you.
Be prepared to walk a lot and wear comfortable clothes and shoes as the area is vast in terms of its spread across three zones called the Opportunity, Sustainability, and Mobility Districts. It’s estimated the entire Expo area is approximately the size of 600 football fields or around 4.5 kilometers in area.
As one enters the Expo venue, the first thing that is so amazing to admire is the Al Wasl Plaza, which is the heart of the Dubai Expo. With Jubilee Park, an open-air venue that hosts large concerts, performances, and other entertainment from countries participating like the Irish Rain Dance, there are smaller stages for local or international country performances in all three districts, like the Earth stage, Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre, etc.
There are daily 60 shows/acts held at different venues and one can check the events on the Expo app for the timings to get a good viewing seat. The Al Wasi dome is just spectacular in all respects with LED panels covering the entire area and it particularly comes alive after sunset with a surround sound system that is just impressive.
From the Al Wasi Plaza, the journey starts as one can select the direction one would like to visit. An Expo map and the passport wallet are essential as one can get an idea of where the individual country pavilions are placed to decide on the pathway to take.
Passport wallet one needs to buy for AED 20/- and try to fill up with the exit stamps (just like we do when we travel) from each country pavilion as one exit as a memento of your visit to that country’s stall at the Expo.
The facilities available are plenty. One can grab a people mover, or an Expo buggy or Explorer buggy if one can’t walk for long. One can also avail of wheelchairs with full access for ease of moving around. Ample areas for guests to sit around just to take a breather and continue.
If you were asked which is the best pavilion, well it is rather a tricky question to answer as most countries have done an excellent job in showcasing their culture, industry, new innovative ways to counter climate change, tourism, and the use of solar technology, plus new ways to grow organic food and very innovative farming techniques. These are the few themes that most country pavilions highlight in their brief presentation when one visits them.
Most of the major pavilions are zones, which allow one to understand what each country is doing to improve the condition of their citizens and the rest of the world to fight poverty.
Besides international artists, there has been a galaxy of sports personalities embracing the Expo, including the likes of Christina Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Usain Bolt; there was even an exhibition of basketball by the US Globetrotters team to showcase their skills. The daily morning street carnival entertains visitors with some dance and acrobatic acts on their way to kickstart the day’s activities.
The most famous water feature can be found between Al Wasi Plaze and Jubilee Park where one can see visitors dipping their feet in the waterfall that crashes to the ground before disappearing into the stone. This gravity-defining illusion is lit in the night. This water feature is a marvel, which is the most visited.
All major country pavilions have their own respective licensed restaurants within their complex for guests, some have live music and others piped music, which goes a long way to unwinding after a hectic visit. Most country pavilions host small boutiques to sell their products, which can be from handicrafts to food and confectionary at reasonable prices.
There are lots of restaurants all around offering a wide choice of cuisines. One can also opt to try street food at food carts too. It’s estimated that over 200 F and B outlets are at the Expo. One can also find local handicrafts/ paintings and other items at the shops in the World area, which is between Al Wasi Plaza and Jubilee Park.
There are also a lot of photo-taking opportunities all around the area for guests to click for their own memories and, I guess, to upload to FB and Instagram.
Another tourist attraction that soars 55 meters above the ground, Garden in the Sky, is an observation tower offering 360-degree views of the Expo 2020 Dubai site. The rotating tower has two interlinked cabins that ascend and descend; visitors can enter the lower cabin from the basement and the upper cabin from the ground. Tickets cost AED 30/-.
While visiting some of the pavilions, especially the African ones, they have done an excellent job to showcase their culture and beautiful natural surroundings and the representatives are very happy to address any of your questions. One can also request a B-to-B contact; this is especially for business-minded guests who would like to take the business further.
Few of the pavilions are quite large and in good demand, hence one needs to wait a good 30-90 minutes before entering. Few have restricted the use of prams/strollers inside the pavilion due to limited space. If there was any suggestion that I have would be to restrict children under seven years from entering the pavilions as they are just too small to understand and they create so much confusion that it’s difficult to hear or watch and parents make it worse by asking their kids’ to stand everywhere for photo shoots. Most country pavilions celebrate their national day with pride and dignitaries arrive for this special occasion where we have seen Presidents, Prime Ministers, and other high-rank officials visiting their respective pavilions for the celebrations. This happens between 10 am- 11 am. Most pavilions also have a stage to showcase their national cultural dance and music to attract attention and lure guests into their pavilion, this is mostly done at the Far East Pavilions, which always have a good crowd around them.
In the end, when the curtains close on March 31, the Expo moves into District 2020- a model global community of the future. The Expo is a must-visit for all who would like to explore the world pavilions at their fingertips.