In the desert heat, the signposts look dated. “Expo 2020” is read everywhere, as if Dubai waits for a future that is already past. But in the capital of the Arab emirate of the same name, the gaze is directed forward. The name of the Universal Exhibition postponed one year due to the coronavirus pandemic was maintained.
It will be held between October 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022 under the slogan “Connecting minds, building the future.” The facilities are located in the south-west of the metropolis on the Persian Gulf, far away from the urban landscape with its skyscrapers, in an area that was once desert and is the size of 600 football fields.
The three key themes that seek to attract visitors to Dubai are sustainability, mobility and opportunity, represented in three large pavilions.
A massive event in times of pandemic
The largest construction site in Dubai is currently working at full throttle. One feels in a bubble completely disconnected from the global crisis caused by the coronavirus.
The flags of the countries are taking shape. Cranes soar into the blue sky, engines purr, trucks kick up dust. The emir of Dubai, Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid al Maktoum, promised the world an extraordinary Expo. But is it realistic to celebrate given the circumstances, isn’t optimism being overstated? Is it according to the times to celebrate a massive event of this type?
The organizers maintain their forecast of 25 million visitors, with more than 60 live events per day, parades and a large number of gastronomic meeting points.
Camille Renaudin, from the Public Relations team, confirms that so far none of the 190 participating countries have withdrawn. Can the Expo become a gigantic action of stubbornness in the face of the pandemic to send a message to the world in the style “Now, more than ever”?
Renaudin comments that the World‘s Fair may even be the “first major ‘post-covid’ event.” It is clear that the months that remain until the inauguration have to play in favor of the organizers.
Dubai continues to attract tourists during pandemic
In times like these, it seems like an eternity until October. Furthermore, tourism, which has long since gained momentum in Dubai, can be interpreted as an ongoing field experiment in how to deal with the pandemic.
The United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is a part, is still considered a territory with a high incidence of infections. However, today many flights arrive with travelers who dare to travel. Museums and shopping centers are open and hotels and restaurants are surprisingly well frequented. Hygiene protocols seem to be very broad, it is mandatory to wear a mask in all public spaces.
Dubai is known for its precision, efficiency, and armies of foreign workers, who do the hardest jobs in the emirate.
Planning continues with social distancing
Nothing seems to be able to stop this first Universal Exhibition in the Arab world. Marks are already being made on the ground and benches so that visitors respect the minimum distance of two meters. Dispensers with disinfectant have been mounted under solar modules. Flowers are already blooming in many places. Trees and floating elements offer shade.
The view falls on the giant dome of the Al Wasl Dome and the pavilion of the host country, a work of the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The pavilion on sustainability is almost finished. It could be considered a contradiction in itself, as it is an area artificially gained from the desert.
A blanket of silence has been spread about the additional expenses generated by the postponement of the original date of Expo 2020. The important thing is that in October, finally, the show begins.
Official portal of the exhibition: www.expo2020dubai.com. Information on ticket sales will be released in June. The fairground has its own metro station. The semester in which the event will take place, from October to March, coincides with the most climatically appropriate time to travel to Dubai.