Ghaf tree
A Ghaf Tree named Salama at Expo 2020 Dubai site. Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

Dubai: Have you ever looked closely at a tree? The marks of time engraved on its bark, the rustling green leaves, a time capsule which narrates the stories of a country’s past.

At Expo 2020 Dubai, there is one such tree, which offers solace from the summer heat, a story of how its roots withstood the test of time and most importantly, a sight which offers the best view of the Expo 2020 Dubai venue.

With a summer breeze for company, the tall and majestic tree resides on the outskirts of the Expo 2020 venue, and is quite hard to find if you’re looking to capture a shot for the ‘gram. However, all is not lost, for we have found where it is rooted.

Salama — a Ghaf tree — keeps a vigilant eye on the 4.38 square kilometres site, with a tale that began long before the global event was lit up to life.

During development, the organisers of the mega-event decided to preserve a Ghaf tree on the event’s site, and be protected against the heavy construction.

‘Salama’ represents this tree as a character and one of the official mascots of the global event, along with symbolising the UAE built over the years — highlighting its stability, resilience and tolerance, through which the country has flourished.

And like every tree, the Ghaf tree also has a story to tell, especially since it was declared as the national tree of the UAE in 2008. A symbol of peace and stability in the UAE, they can live up to an average of 120 years. However, this isn’t the only place Expo 2020 Dubai has featured the tree or should we say, trees?

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Inspired by the species, which goes by the scientific name ‘prosopis cineraria’, Expo 2020 Dubai has a special avenue dedicated to it — The Ghaf Avenue — all lined with these magnificent willowy natural structures to provide shade to visitors at the site.

Apart from this, the ENOC fuel station at the Expo 2020 site, which is titled as the ‘service station of the future’, also took its design inspiration from the tree. The service station has multiple sources of energy — traditional hydrocarbon sources to solar as well as wind turbine for — power generation and carbon fibre in the construction of its canopy and was opened earlier this year in February.

In case you are looking to visit Salama on your way to the Expo 2020 Dubai venue, make sure to go near the World Car Park, where you can spot her towering over the vast venue, which opened on October 1, 2021 to visitors from the world over.