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Dubai: Dubai — how would you describe it? To some it’s the city of life, a futuristic city or even a global hub. But, according to the Expo 2020 Dubai team, it is about pushing your boundaries.

This is what inspired them to create and launch a dramatic video when marking two years to go for the big event - Expo 2020.

Mohammad Javad, General Manager of XDubai, spoke to Gulf News exclusively about the making of the video and how two months went into the planning and executing of the project, which has millions of views thus far.

Setting the bar higher

He said: “Dubai has been setting the bar higher with everything that it has done so far, from buildings to parks to restaurants. This is what inspired us to put together the ideas for the video. When you talk about the Expo 2020 Dubai, the video has to be worthy of the world’s attention.”

The video received around 1.7 million views on Facebook on just the first day. The most important thing, Javad believes, is that this isn’t a product but a video “about the UAE”.

And it shall be an exciting experience for all those joining, is what they wanted to portray according to Max Ambrosini, director of The Narrative Lab Expo 2020 Dubai.

“The visuals include scenes from UAE’s culture and values. This is what we wanted to show to the world, a bit of what the UAE represents and stands for and how modern and exciting Dubai will be as a venue and platform. It’s a collaboration between the two.”

Their team of around 100 people set out in early September to achieve this vision.

Ambrosini said: “We know everyone loves action scenes and people’s attention span on social media is very short. So, we needed to keep them engaged." 

"The message behind the video," he adds, "is what all humans can do if we push the boundaries. We can do something extreme if we come together. That’s what Expo 2020 Dubai is, too, a glimpse of what the world can achieve if we collaborate.”

The final result was a dramatic compilation of scenes from old Dubai to the new.

From an Emirati woman, in traditional bedouin attire, weaving the UAE flag in her humble home, to athletes jumping out of a plane and diving through the Dubai Frame.

The minute-and-a-half-long video keeps viewers engrossed throughout.

But, what was the most difficult scene to shoot?

Javad said: “It was definitely the one with the wingsuit flying. We have noticed that aerial stunts work very well because of the uniqueness of it all. And the beautiful skyline of Dubai in the backdrop made it more unique.”

At one point, there is a perfect image of the Burj Khalifa visible through the Dubai Frame.

According to Javad, this scene was shot in one take.


“There was a lot of planning and we had just one shot to pull it off. This area is so close to the airport and the margin for error was zero. There were a lot of entitites involved, plus we had a small window of time and the weather had to be just right.

"You don’t want to shoot with zero visibility and with the wingsuits, wind plays a major factor in how you control your speed and descent. The most important thing for us was everyone’s safety.”

The shot was done at around 6.30am in order to escape the rush of incoming flights and to perfectly capture the sunrise. But, the team did several practice jumps in other locations beforehand to ensure that they got it right in one go on the final day.

In Ambrosini’s opinion, however, the scene with an athlete jumping out of one of the under-construction buildings at the Expo 2020 Dubai site was the hardest, and also the most “breathtaking”.

He said: “For us, knowing the height he was jumping from, that moment was great. All of them are professional athletes, some even champions in their categories. This individual does parkour and his idea was to do something more extreme. But, we wanted the safest and most secure environment for everyone.”

At the end of the day, the team wanted everybody to see what the UAE is preparing for — the world’s best Expo event.