Dubai: Tucked between the Wadi and Jubilee Avenues, a row of 38 stone columns greet millions of visitors at the entrance of Expo 2020 Dubai’s Jubilee Park.
This poignant structure carries the name of every worker involved in the construction of the 4.38-square-kilometre site, into the glittering home base of the World Expo today and beyond.
On the first day of the six-month event, Reem Al Hashimi, Minister of State for International Cooperation, Director-General of the Expo 2020 Dubai Bureau, unveiled the Expo 2020 Workers’ Monument and paid tribute to the workforce responsible for building the first world fair held in the Arab world.
“We wanted to honour the incredible work of more than 200,000 workers and their contribution to Expo 2020 Dubai. Each and every one deserves to be known, with our sincere thanks and praise, for their tremendous efforts.
“Their dedication to their work has been integral to creating this historic event, the most inclusive World Expo ever. Thanks to your efforts, the planet is able to come together, at a time when international cooperation is most needed, with the collective aim of achieving a better future for us and for future generations,” she said
The names of more than 200,000 workers have been carved into the surface of the cylindrical stones, and because they are listed in the alphabetical order, the said labour force has been able to easily spot their names. The workers, hailing from all over the world, are being recognised for their collective contribution, dedication and achievement in making the impossible possible — computing 240 million working hours since 2015.
In the same vein, renowned London-based architect Asif Khan has cut the columns from a single monolithic block. He finds inspiration in the moon’s phases for the striking Workers’ Monument, which also references the fine engineering seen in astrolabes from the Islamic world. Khan is also the designer of the three carbon-fibre Entry Portals, the Garden in the Sky observation tower, Arabic calligraphy benches and the general Public Realm of the Expo 2020 site.
The colonnade reflects a spirit of collaboration and underpins the vision and ethos of the world fair.
Workers' Portrait series
Another form of tribute can be found on the digital screens around the Public Realm and at the Expo Media Centre Gallery. The Workers’ Portrait Series, which includes stunning images capturing the diversity and spirit of the Expo workforce, is accompanied by the workers’ own inspiring quotes. They talk about friendships, career development and financial stability.
Anna Nalumansi, cleaner by job role, is quoted as saying: “I have managed to make friends with different people. I have managed to develop my career. My best moment working for Expo 2020 is that it is mixed, showing social and good hospitality. My best moment is when I collaborate with different people of different countries.”
Operator, Deepu Das Devadas, says, “Being a part in the Expo 2020, I am proud and as the theme is Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability, even I got the opportunity to be part of it.”
Umar Hayat, working as a rigger, adds, “I want to make sure my children’s future is safe.”
Throughout construction, Expo has followed an overarching strategy called ‘Better Together’, an approach to health and safety, and worker welfare. Six pillars underpin the strategy — Leadership, Communication, Competency, Engagement, Reward and Recognition, and Continual Improvement — each including a number of different activities and programmes.
Nsomenang Alain Tokeh, one of the numerous security guards says, “I dream and aspire to become an entrepreneur in the future where I will be able to create opportunities to impact into the society through employment, impact the poor and needy, bring people together for positive purposes as well as changing lives for the betterment of society.”