Based on the overall theme of 'Connecting Minds, Creating the Future', and sub-themes of sustainability, innovation, and opportunity, the Dubai Expo 2020 is truly spectacular. From the scale of operations to the pavilions on display, from top-notch restaurants to memorable concerts, everything about the Dubai Expo is an experience that will live with you for a lifetime. And I was lucky enough to witness it in person.
Here are all the reasons that make the Dubai Expo 2020 a truly unique experiencce:
1. The first expo to be hosted by an Arab nation, the Dubai Expo 2020 has put into action the themes of World Expo 2020 and made it a 100% Ecological Project.
The team behind the Dubai Expo plans to repurpose 90% of the material used for the construction into building public buildings. Indian Pavilion is one of the pavilions selected to later, be repurposed into a building (and not demolished). Moreover, electricity at the venue is being sourced via solar panels.
2. The sheer diversity of the pavilions, with messages that inspire, and exhibits that leave you impressed.
With 192 countries participating at the Dubai Expo 2020, it's not only the largest but also, the most inclusive expo. Apart from three pavilions dedicated to the central themes of the Dubai Expo, each country has its own pavilion, representing the nation and the chosen theme.
It is also the first time, since the 1900s, that there is a pavilion dedicated to women and their achievements, across fields. And it was this pavilion that left me suitably impressed by both, the information on display, and the manner of presentation. From a hard-hitting video that forces us to question internalized patriarchy to VR interviews and interactive displays, the women's pavilion is a must-visit.
Naturally, I could not skip the Dubai Expo without a visit to the Indian Pavilion. An entire floor is dedicated to achievements of ISRO, practices of Yoga, and the science behind Ayurveda, one part of the other floor to museum and culture (that is truly a breathtaking display with the walls transforming into sites from some of India's most famous movies and places), and one part dedicated to a state and ministry that keep changing. It's no mean feat to showcase India's diversity in a handful of floors. But the team behind the Indian pavilion managed just fine.
3. A fine-dine experience with restaurants like Long Chim and Kutir.
Though Dubai Expo boasts of a wide variety of fast-food chains and fine-dine restaurants, I had the chance to sample the food at Kutir and Long Chim. Kutir, by Michelin star Chef Rohit Ghai, redefines fusion food, offering a unique take on traditional Indian delicacies. Straight from appetizers to desserts, each dish was a treat for my tastebuds, and looked far too pretty to eat!
Long Chim by Chef David Thompson serves food of modern Bangkok, and I was left truly surprised (not to mention overjoyed) at the vegetarian options on the menu. Not only was there a fair variety to choose from, it was also absolutely delicious. My personal favourite was the aromatic curry of vegetables.
4. The Al Wasl Dome
The Al Wasl Plaza at Expo 2020 provides the largest 360-degree projection surface in the world. Designed to act as the center of the Expo, this is where the opening ceremony took place. It also hosts major concerts (I attended Alicia Keys' and yes it was absolutely amazing) and events. Rightfully named the 'beating heart of Expo 2020', the Al Wasl Dome is nothing short of an architectural and engineering marvel.
5. The multitude of services that aim to make this a comfortable and enriching experience for every person who steps inside the Expo.
Spread over an area of 4.38 square kilometers (i.e. 4 times the size of the world's largest mall, The Dubai Mall), the Dubai Expo is clearly not a venue you can cover in its entirety in one day. But you can shortlist your areas of interest and cover them all, thanks to carts available to ease travel time within the venue.
Though personally, I'd advise wearing comfortable walking shoes and being careful with directions - because there are small little attractions sprinkled across the venue that you may not want to miss. Like adorable talking robots, quirky science lessons, and artistic benches describing Arabic words (that of course, are also comfortable to sit on and rest your feet).
Stepping into the Dubai Expo 2020, with its beautifully constructed entry gates (courtesy, British architect Asif Khan), was like stepping into a futuristic world that saw the best of what the world had to offer and promoted themes that would not only help us prosper, but also save the planet we call home.
In my humble opinion, it is an experience that every Dubai tourist can take away something from - I most certainly did (and no, I don't just mean the super cool souvenirs).