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Countdown to Dubai Expo 2020 begins

Emirates embarks on a unique event in which technology, sustainability and humanity come together to start a new post-pandemic era
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Dubai is preparing to host the largest mass event ever held in an exceptional time. The vast Expo 2020 grounds are weeks away from completion as the country continues to prepare to open its doors to the world. The event is highly symbolic as it is the first international expo to be held in a Middle Eastern country and the first global event to be held in pandemic.

From the outside, the Expo buildings begin to stand out against the desert terrain. Through futuristic designs, the area begins to house imposing architectural constructions. Glass and steel star in an architectural sequence that seeks to transport visitors to the world of tomorrow, a new future that seems ever closer. Guests will be able to admire this space through three six-storey high carbon fibre walkways that link the different spaces together.

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Likewise, the elements that make up the structure are state-of-the-art technology. Examples of this are the steel discs in the space that rotate with the sun and the composition of the artificial trees themselves, which are capable of capturing moisture from the air. In designing these trees, the designers were inspired by the ghaf tree, the national tree of the Emirates, which has the peculiarity of remaining evergreen in the desert. To this end, the architects invented a new concept of "energy tree", capable of absorbing solar energy.

Alongside this, Dubai will showcase its breakthrough in the space race for influence on Mars through exclusive images of the Red Planet. In addition, there will be various drone and robot exhibits.

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As an example of this technological development, the mobility pavilion will present what has already become the world's largest passenger lift, capable of transporting up to 160 people at a time. The designer and head of the Foster + Partners studio, Evenden, has stated that "for designers, the World Expo opens up all kinds of opportunities to think and this is reflected in the buildings and urban environments that are being created".

There is also a pavilion dedicated to nature and fauna. Here, it will even be possible to enjoy the simulation of whale songs. In this way, the Expo aims to offer a section where forests and oceans are the protagonists, with the aim of inspiring visitors to start a more environmentally friendly and sustainable life. 

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Thus, Dubai stands as a city of tomorrow, a dawn that promises to bring a hopeful future. In this way, through the Expo, Dubai will design the roadmap to lay the economic and cultural foundations that will set the path for the post-pandemic era. In this way, Dubai will be the forerunner in creating a new, more innovative, and social outlook that will unfold through the "world's greatest show on the road".

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum said the Expo's success "confirms that humanity, through its solidarity, has triumphed over the emerging coronavirus pandemic" and explained that "by harnessing science and knowledge to address the COVID-19 pandemic, the system establishes a new phase of future cooperation". In this way, "Dubai will be a platform to explore the prospects for this cooperation".

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Thus, "through the Dubai Expo, the UAE provides a bridge for all peoples of the world to join efforts and aspirations and work towards creating a better future for humanity".

The Expo esplanade is divided into three distinct zones representing the key themes of the event: mobility, sustainability and opportunity. Around these three districts, dozens of pavilions are scattered between the zones, simulating the design of petals.

Under the motto "connecting minds and creating the future", the Expo stands as a unifying place to house humanity. The organisers, along with the designers, are excited to be part of such an innovative project. Experience director Marjan Faraidooni told The National that it is "overwhelmingly fortunate to have been part of this whole journey to bring this pavilion to life".


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Similarly, Faraidooni gave clues as to what the spectator will find once he or she arrives at the Expo. The director gave as an example the Alif pavilion, dedicated to "mobility". According to Faraidooni, "this pavilion consists of many chapters and within them we have smaller chapters that take visitors from one large room to another". In addition, the pavilion houses "three big rooms in this presentation. One of them takes visitors back in time and reminds them of some giants of mobility. These are people who have played an important role in the sciences and the movement of human progress over the years".

In this area, visitors and technology enthusiasts can learn how to create smart cities through robotics and artificial intelligence. They can also design plans for the construction of a spaceship or understand how solar tricycles work. "It's not necessarily that you're going to learn about cars, planes and boats. It's much more than that. It's the movement of human beings, the endless striving of humans to progress and reach for the stars. That's what it represents to me," said Faraidooni.

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On the other hand, sustainability is one of the major themes developed at the Expo. The brief was to build a large structure that would generate its own electricity and cooling in the midst of a near-desert habitat. Grimshaw Architects president Andrew Whalley said the building was an opportunity to demonstrate a "truly self-sufficient pavilion on a global stage". In doing so, the engineers and architects have succeeded in constructing a 100% sustainable technology building.

Meanwhile, children and students are the main protagonists of the event. After the Expo ends, students will be welcomed into the pavilions as part of a mission to inspire the next generation. Director Faraidooni said, "When we thought about the visitor experience, we designed it in a way that even a seven-year-old would understand the message behind it.

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In addition, after the Expo ends in March 2022, the area will become a residential and commercial neighbourhood under the name "District 2020". The Mobility Pavilion will become a research and technology centre as well as an office and exhibition complex. "We will preserve this building with its exhibition for many years after the Expo so that people can continue to visit it. We also plan to complement it with potentially temporary exhibitions that will address the theme of mobility in the future," said Faraidooni.

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Holding the Expo in Dubai is the result of beating Russia, Turkey and Brazil to the Paris bid in 2013. Once the Emirates bid was confirmed on 27 November, fireworks were set off from Burj Khalifa City in celebration and the day was declared a public holiday in schools and universities.

Thus, the Expo promises to stand as a hopeful place where the future seems to be beginning to take shape in an environment that looks to innovation, understanding and sustainability to bring people and the world together at the dawn of a new era.