Dubai: A day separates us from the mega event dubbed as The World’s Greatest Show. Hosted by Dubai, the first-ever World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia (MEASA) region is in and of itself an unmissable six-month affair. It is a confluence of 200-plus countries and entities bringing you and your family interactions with robots, food dished out by Michelin-star chefs, treks with gorillas and live shows starring your favourite singers.
It all began with The Great Industrial Exhibition of 1851 in London. Fast forward 170 years later, humanity now enjoys problem-solving tech, from our telephones to electric cars, which were first revealed at Expos. Equally thrilling innovations will be introduced to the world at Expo 2020 Dubai (hint: a mode of transport that travels faster than airplanes), which has been running under the slogan of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ for the past eight years whilst under preparation.
If this sounds like a lot of information to digest, fear not because we’ve done the homework for you. Take a few minutes out of your day to get up to date with all the essential nuggets about the show – what is it, what your entry will cost and what you can expect.
What is Expo 2020 Dubai?
The World Expos are a global platform regulated by the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), taking place every five years. Once the host nation is elected, it then invites other countries to showcase their achievements and inventions in diverse pavilions for a better future. On November 27, 2013, Dubai won the bid to host the 34th World Expo.
This time round, great minds are not only envisioning a greener, more sustainable tomorrow but they are also driving action in real time through Expo 2020’s grassroots initiatives such the World Majlis series, 10 Thematic Weeks – debuting with the critical Climate and Biodiversity Week – and the Global Best Practice Programme (GBPP).
The site is split into three Thematic Districts anchored in the subthemes of Sustainability, Mobility and Opportunity. Country pavilions located in each wing have something to say about their progress and aspirations in terms of allocating resources, moving faster and better and unlocking potential within their people.
The representative Thematic Pavilions (Sustainability, Mobility and Opportunity Pavilions) will become your one-stop source for how we can move forward to meet the world’s most critical challenges.
What are the timings?
Expo 2020 Dubai will run from October 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022, after which the site is planned for a major urban project known as District 2020.
You can visit the fair on all seven days of the week. From Saturday to Wednesday, the timings are 10am to 12am (midnight); on Thursday and Friday, from 10am to 2am (midnight).
What are the entry requirements?
The organisers are taking every precaution necessary in line with the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP) and Dubai Health Authority (DHA), plus the latest advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO), to ensure a smooth and safe visiting experience for all.
As per current protocol, non-vaccinated ticket holders aged 18 and above must present a negative PCR test taken in the previous 72 hours to enter the Expo site. Vaccinated ticket holders can enter upon proof of inoculation.
For those who have not been tested but have a valid entry ticket, there’s a free PCR test option at a facility next to the Expo 2020 site. Visitors must wear face masks at all times and adhere to two-metre social distancing measures.
How much does an Expo 2020 ticket cost?
You can easily book your tickets online through the official website (www.expo2020dubai.com) and the Expo 2020 Dubai mobile app or through 2,500-plus authorised ticket resellers.
Some groups are allowed free entry into Expo 2020, namely children aged six to 17, university students from any institution in the world, People of Determination, senior visitors aged 60 and above. Kids under the age of six are also eligible, but their tickets must be booked on site at the entrance.
Authorised ticket resellers for Expo 2020 Dubai
All visitors, regardless of free eligibility, need to present an Expo ticket for access.
Starting from Dh95, the show has several ticket types for the public to choose from: the October Pass gives you unlimited entry for the first month of the opening at the price of a one-day ticket; a standard one-day ticket costs Dh95; a multi-day pass valid for 30 consecutive days costs Dh195; and a season pass gives you unlimited entry for the entire six months for Dh495.
Price of a standard one-day ticket for Expo 2020 Dubai
Special bundles and packages for families, business visitors and UAE Golden Jubilee celebrators come with various perks: the family package consisting of two season passes and an extra season pass for a nanny costs Dh950; premium experience bundle with unlimited six-month entry for business visitors costs Dh1,750; and the Jubilee Experience package inclusive of a whopping four season passes, 30 multi-day passes, 10 one-day tickets costs Dh10,000.
How do I get there?
The Expo 2020 venue is located in the Dubai South district, falling just south of Dubai Investments Park (DIP). The 438-hectare site is about a 34-minute ride from the Dubai International Airport (DXB), and only 20 minutes away from Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC).
Public transport is your best bet. The Dubai Metro and extensive fleet of buses and taxis across the emirates are gearing up to facilitate 25-million-plus visits to the world fair.
A dedicated track known as Route 2020 on the Red Line will now take you directly to the Expo 2020 Metro Station, located at the mouth of the site.
Two-hundred-and-three ‘Expo Rider’ public buses are free of cost for visitors boarding from and to Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah. These colourful buses pick you up from 21 designated stations and drop you off directly at one of the three Thematic District gates (Sustainability, Opportunity and Mobility) – make sure to wait at the same gate for a ride back.
Rest assured, thanks to a smart system, taxis will automatically dispatch to the site to meet any surge in demand. You can book your ride easily through car-hailing apps such as DTC, Careem and Uber.
If you are driving to the site, then all the major roads lead to the dedicated Expo Road (E77) – simply follow the yellow signs towards one of the four parking zones.
What can I do at Expo 2020?
Rather the question is what can’t you do at this world fair? A snapshot in numbers should paint the picture right away – there are more than 60 shows happening daily, 200-plus international and local eateries to dine at and 192 country pavilions and their national day celebrations to catch every day.
While Al Wasl Plaza, Expo’s beating heart, is to mark grand occasions and sunsets through awesome audio-visual shows, nine other venues across the site will be busy staging global stars playing out-of-the-world tunes – yes, Chilean pop artist Flangr is singing to the sounds of the Orion Nebula. Pavilions are putting their best foot forward, too, with genuine relics from Mali to Egypt and scale-by-scale replicas in the US and Italy Pavilions making appearances.
And don’t forget to head over to the UAE’s own 15,000-square-metre, four-storey-tall pavilion - the largest on the Expo site - which resembles a falcon in mid-flight.
The Expo 2020 Dubai mobile app helps you plan your journeys by catering to your individual interests no matter how niche they are. Run a marathon or take a baking class, eat the lightest dessert in the world or design your own aircraft, listen to the inspiring women of the Arab world at the Women’s Pavilion or zen out to the all-women Firdaus Orchestra – dream it and you have it.