Ahead of the 1 October opening of Expo 2020, some 370 delegates convened physically in Dubai last month in a show of support for the mega event, and to review the venue's state of readiness.
They represented 173 of Expo’s 190-plus participating countries, with many other participants attending the sixth International Participations Meeting (IPM) virtually.
The first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA), and the largest event to be held in the Arab world, Expo 2020 is expected to welcome more than 200 in-person delegates — representing nations, multilateral organisations, academic institutions and businesses.
For the first time in the 170-year history of World Expo, each participating country will have its own pavilion, including new exhibitors such as South Sudan, which sees the event as a "crucial launch pad... to build bridges, attract investment, collaborate with the international community, assess global challenges, and put our heads together to fix world problems," said His Excellency Deng Deng Nhial, commissioner general for South Sudan.
Over the two-day IPM, world leaders were briefed on the latest in operations, security, city readiness, marketing and communications, as well as programming. Organisers also presented the stringent measures being taken to ensure the health and wellbeing of Expo’s workforce, participants and visitors, in line with the UAE’s wider efforts to combat Covid-19.
Erik Linquier, commissioner general for France, said: “IPM's face-to-face meeting demonstrates that Expo 2020 is ready – and the world is ready for a global gathering that will unite us and inspire us to work together to build a better future for everyone. Now more than ever, we need to come together to seek solutions to the challenges we all face."
Alexey Gruzdev, deputy minister of industry and trade and commissioner general for Russia is "convinced" the event will "become a vivid embodiment of the victory of humanity, which has united its knowledge and efforts to confront this new threat".
Four experience pillars
Expo 2020 Dubai will run from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022 on a site adjacent to Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai South. It will feature four key experience pillars.
The first is drawing the world to one place — where all 190 participating nations will showcase their cultures, including their arts and entertainment.
Architecture is the second pillar. American Adrian Smith, the mastermind behind Dubai's Burj Khalifa, designed some of the buildings and exhibits at the Expo site, while the Japan pavilion, showcases a blend of Japanese origami and Arabic geometry.
The third pillar is events and entertainment, where visitors can expect some 60 live events happening onsite: from ballet and opera, to literature festivals and art shows.
Finally, pillar four is innovation and technology. Among some interesting displays will be robots that can perform surgery, and Netherlands' display on turning mushrooms into building materials.
When the fully-fledged Expo opens 1 October 2021, delegates can expect daily events showcasing the best of technology, creativity and culture, supported by F&B outlets offering global cuisine.
More than 1,000 agents have also seen the Dubai venue, while Expo organisers have also developed a series of half-day, full-day and three-day itineraries that cater to travellers with various interests.
Built with long-term legacy in mind, once the six-month event concludes, the Expo site will transform into District 2020, a blueprint for human-centric, smart and sustainable cities of the future.