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Arshad in front of Alif - the Mobility Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai

Dubai: While many Expo 2020 Dubai visitors have completed collecting all 192 country pavilion stamps, one Dubai resident – an Expo volunteer – had a novel way of collecting them. Indian expat Arshad Junaid, 29, used his volunteer vest instead of the usual Expo passport to collect the stamps.

Junaid told Gulf News he collected the final stamp on December 25, Christmas Day. “It was the perfect act to cap my 10-day volunteer work at the Expo. I’m very happy and fulfilled to collect all 192 country and institutional stamps, including Dubai Police, DP World, Emirates and more,” he said.

“I feel so proud of my achievement and I’m happy to show this pride on my vest. Actually, I’m planning of gifting this vest to Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, who inspired me to become a volunteer.”

He added: “Volunteering at the Expo was one of the happiest times of my life – I met a lot of people from various nationalities and ages. I learned a lot too, not only about the UAE but other cultures as well.”

Junaid, who is originally from Bihar, India, did the usual 10-day volunteer work. He did not go to the Expo every day because he was also busy with his day-job as a sales executive in Deira.

“I had a good time; I made lots of friends and it was really something very memorable,” said Junaid, who was assigned at Alif – the Mobility Pavilion at Expo for crowd control and making sure that visitors comply with COVID-19 precautionary measures, including wearing of face masks and observing appropriate social distancing.

'Meaningful legacy'

Junaid, a Dubai resident for six years, is one of the thousands of volunteers at the world’s biggest fair. According to Expo organisers, there are 30,000 volunteers of multi-cultural backgrounds coming from 135 countries, “representing the true diversity of the UAE”.

They added: “Hosting the first World Expo in the region takes a lot of dedication and effort. We are proud of the thousands of volunteers who signed up to help operate and manage the delivery of an exceptional Expo for millions of visitors and participants. Through this skills-enriching experience, they are giving back to the community and creating a meaningful legacy for the UAE and the world.”

For Junaid, that “meaningful legacy” reverberated when he listened to Sheikh Hamdan thanking the Expo volunteers on the occasion of International Volunteer Day on December 6. He said: “I listened to Sheikh Hamdan and was inspired by him to become a volunteer.”

Sheikh Hamdan had earlier tweeted: “We are very proud to see voluntary work becoming an inherent value in the UAE society. We thank all volunteers who spared no time or effort to serve our society and boost the renaissance of our country.”

'Remarkable opportunity'

Junaid said he is thankful to Expo not only for the “remarkable, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” but also for the valuable lessons he learned and the friends he made while working as a volunteer.

He added: “I also felt like I travelled the world, after collecting all those stamps. Moreover, the beige-coloured vest I wore at the Expo was not only a uniform, it was also a badge of honour and a remembrance of being part of the world’s greatest fair and showcasing to the world the beauty of the UAE.”