al wasl plaza
With less than three months to go, the world's greatest gathering Expo 2020 Dubai awaits. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The Emirate of Dubai is just a few months away from playing host to the world at Expo 2020. The much-awaited global event may have taken a pause last year due to the pandemic, but the city is now more prepared than ever, more determined than ever to commence the start of a six-month journey filled with intellectual discourse, celebrations and problem-solving innovations.

With less than three months to go - Expo 2020 kicks off on October 1 - visitors and the curious general public alike are most likely buzzing with questions, and we’re here to put every query to rest. Dive into this master guide to learn all about the UAE’s historic upcoming exhibition, what is it, how to get there, and what to do when you do get there.

al wasl plaza expo 2020 dubai
Expo 2020 Dubai made history the moment Dubai won the bid in 2013, becoming the first World Expo to be hosted by an Arab nation. Image Credit: Supplied

What is Expo 2020 Dubai?

Dubai is hosting the first-ever World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia (MEASA) region. It is a collaboration of 190-plus countries, multilateral organisations, businesses and educational establishments coming together for six months, from October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022.

The exposition will run under the theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ through the celebration of varied cultures and never-before-seen innovations. This overarching theme is further divided into key subthemes of Sustainability, Opportunity and Mobility.

How much is a ticket to the Expo?

Ticket types for the event range from one-day tickets to seasonal passes, and they will be up for the grabs starting July 18, 2021.

  • One-day ticket: Dh95
  • Multi-day tickets (offering unrestricted entry for 30 consecutive days): Dh195
  • Seasonal passes (unlimited entry for the entire six months of Expo 2020): Dh495

Complimentary tickets are available for People of Determination, who will enter free of charge and their companion of one will be charged 50 per cent of the ticket price. Students with valid academic IDs and children under the age of 18 are also eligible for free access. This includes senior visitors aged 60 and above.

How can I book my tickets to Expo 2020 Dubai?

You can avail your tickets online on the official Expo website or the mobile app or through 2,500 authorised ticket resellers including online travel agents, tour operators, hotel groups and airlines from 100-plus markets around the world.

What is a World Expo?

World Expos have been around since 1851, leaving behind long-lasting legacies in the form of ketchup, touchscreens, washing machines and even our mobile phones.

Regulated by the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), these global exhibitions invite countries to showcase their achievements and inventions in self-built pavilions for a better future. Every five years, the body elects a host nation to receive the world at their very own super fair.

The Great Industrial Exhibition of 1851 in London Image Credit: Courtesy: Expo 2020 Dubai
Did you know?
The iconic Eiffel Tower was built for the sole purpose of welcoming visitors to the Paris 1889 World Expo.

When did Dubai win the Expo 2020 bid?

Dubai won the bid to host the 34th World Expo on November 27, 2013.

For how long will Expo 2020 Dubai last?

Expo 2020 Dubai will be held from October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022.

Who hosted the previous World Expo?

Expo 2015 was held in Milan under the theme of ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’ from May 1, 2015 to October 31, 2015.

Who is hosting the next World Expo?

Expo 2025 will be held in Osaka under the theme of ‘Designing Future Society for Our Lives’ from April 13, 2025, to October 13, 2025.

EXPO PIC 13-1601540367593
Expo 2020 aims to bring together the world in solidarity to brave the challenges of a post-pandemic era. Image Credit: Supplied

Why is there a need for a World Expo?

World Expos offer peoples from all over the globe a common, accessible platform. Using this international dais, they can then promote future solutions for humanity that will help safeguard our planet.

What is the purpose of Expo 2020 Dubai?

Expo 2020 Dubai is more than just an international event – it is the need of the hour. The event aims to bring together the world in solidarity to brave the challenges of a post-pandemic era. Dubai is done imagining a greener, more sustainable future because it is already happening at The World’s Greatest Show.

Key event programmes such as Expo's Thematic Weeks, the Global Best Practice Programme and the World Majlis series will centre on how we can improve access to education, food, energy and water for all.

Why is the event called Expo 2020 Dubai if it is being held in 2021?

In light of the novel coronavirus outbreak last year, World Expo's governing body unanimously voted to postpone Expo 2020 Dubai for a year. The organisers then decided to retain the event’s original title for branding and marketing purposes.

What COVID-19 measures are in place?

Expo 2020 has introduced applied technology like robots and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to keep contact points to a minimum throughout the site. The following are safety measures implemented across the event site.

According to the organisers, visitors are encouraged to vaccinate, but it is not a requirement for entry. Non-vaccinated visitors aged 18 and above must present a negative PCR test taken in the previous 72 hours. Vaccinated ticket holders can enter upon proof of inoculation. For those who have not tested but have a valid entry ticket can avail a free PCR test at a facility next to the Expo site - however, getting the results can take around four hours.

Expo 2020 Dubai will continue to update their guidelines as the situation changes. Vaccinated visitors for the time being must still comply with the wearing of masks, social distancing, regular washing and sanitisation of hands and other precautionary measures listed below.

Thermal cameras: These are special cameras at arrival points that check the temperature of visitors before they can enter the site.

Masks: Visitors must wear face masks at all times.

Sanitary precautions: Hand sanitiser stations are installed at regular intervals across the venue. All Expo common areas and event venues are subject to regular cleaning and sanitisation.

Taking off your face mask
The organisers of the event guarantee that they are taking every precaution necessary in line with the latest UAE Government guidelines. Image Credit: Stock

Social distancing: Visitors are to maintain a distance of two metres between themselves.

Medical facilities: Medical personnel and specialist staff are always on standby in case of emergencies. There are also seven first-aid centres onsite open all days of the week.

Vaccinated staff: All employees and their families, as well as event participants have been inoculated against COVID-19 owing to Expo’s internal vaccination programme.

With the Al Hosn app, which is sourced from the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention, visitors can track positive contacts around them on their trip.

How many people will be coming?

Despite the show taking place in unprecendented times, the Expo organisers are committed to the target of 25 million visits.

What does the Expo 2020 logo mean?

The Expo 2020 Dubai ringed logo is inspired by an actual gold ring that was found in the 4,000-year-old archaeological site of Saruq Al-Hadid.

expo logo ring
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, with Reem Al Hashemi, Director General of the Dubai Expo 2020 Office, presented the excavated gold ring that inspired the Expo 2020 logo at Burj Khalifa in Dubai, 2016. Image Credit: Twitter/@DXBMediaOffice

According to a statement issued by Dubai Media Office, when His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, revealed the logo in 2016, he said: “The Expo 2020 logo represents our message to the world that our civilization has deep roots.”

The site of Saruq Al-Hadid in Dubai was home to an ancient civilization that spanned from Abu Dhabi to the mountains of Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah. Just as the site had once been a bustling point of contact, this ring-inspired logo refers to Dubai’s continued link to the world.

What do the subthemes of Expo 2020 mean?

Expo firmly believes the only way humanity can make strides is by coming together to find solutions to the pressing challenges we are facing today. The potential for progress can be found in the following three interconnected areas or subthemes:

  • Sustainability: to encourage and instill habits that do not harm the environment.
  • Opportunity: to unlock opportunities for all by providing access to basic human needs like food, energy and water.
  • Mobility: to improve mobility of people, goods, and services both physically and digitally.

Where is the Expo 2020 venue located?

The Expo 2020 venue is located in the Dubai South district, falling just south of Dubai Investments Park. Visitors will find that the site is about a 34-minute ride from the Dubai International Airport (DXB), and only 20 minutes away from Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC).

Location: Expo Road (E77), Dubai South, Jebel Ali

How big is the Expo 2020 Dubai site?

The Expo 2020 Dubai site stretches over a staggering area of 4.38 square kilometres, equivalent to four times the total land area of the largest shopping mall in the world – The Dubai Mall.

What does the Expo 2020 Dubai venue look like?

From a bird’s-eye view, the main event space is neatly sectioned off into three petals with two stretches of rectangular public spaces between them. Each petal is a Thematic District – Sustainability, Opportunity, and Mobility – that falls within the hexagonal perimeter of the site.

OPN 191231 Expo 2020-1577788827398
Al Wasl Plaza links the three Thematic Districts and will be entertaining visitors pouring into the centrepiece from all sides with projection shows, restaurants, fountains and parks. Image Credit: Supplied

At the heart of the venue is Al Wasl Plaza – the world’s largest 360-degree projection dome. ('Al Wasl' is the historical name for Dubai and means 'connection' in Arabic, making it the perfect name for the site.)

Italian contractor Cimolai Rimond weaved the trellis steelwork into the ringed logo of Expo 2020 Dubai, while Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture oversaw the design of the dome and the plaza along with its housed amenities.

The plaza links the three Thematic Districts and will be entertaining visitors pouring into the centrepiece from all sides with projection shows, restaurants, fountains, and parks. Besides the districts, visitors can also access the UAE Pavilion and the brand new Route 2020 Metro Station from the plaza.

What are the Thematic Districts, and how can I visit them?

These are the wings that represent the three subthemes of Expo 2020: Sustainability, Opportunity and Mobility Districts. In each, visitors will find a Thematic Pavilion that showcases main attractions and exhibitions consistent with the district’s theme, as well as country pavilions that have chosen to showcase under the respective theme.

You can access all the three district entrances from within the Al Wasl Plaza and separately through the Entry Portals located at the tip of each district. Keep in mind that the Thematic Pavilion of each district is much closer if you use the portals.

If you do make your way into the venue through the Al Wasl Plaza, the Opportunity District will be to your left, the Mobility District to your right and the Sustainability District to the north.

Opportunity District:

Mobility District:

Sustainability District:

What are the Expo Entry Portals?

Just as the Eiffel Tower was the gateway to Paris 1889 World Expo, the Entry Portals will mark the first point of contact for those visiting Expo 2020 Dubai. You will find each of these mashrabiya-inspired gates at the entrance of the three districts, leading you to the Welcome Plazas.

Expo 2020 Entry Portals
Entry Portals are mashrabiya-inspired gates at the entrance of each of the three districts, leading you to the Welcome Plazas. Image Credit: Supplied

Designed by London-based architect Asif Khan, the carbon-fibre doors behave like time portals that will transport you to the future when you enter and back to the present when you leave.

What are the Welcome Plazas?

The Expo venue has four arrival or Welcome Plazas situated at the entrance of each visitor gate.

  • 2020 Plaza is by the Metro gate that leads to the Al Wasl Plaza
  • Sea Plaza at Mobility District entrance
  • Earth Plaza at Sustainability District entrance
  • Sun Plaza at Opportunity District entrance

What are the Sustainability, Opportunity, and Mobility Thematic Pavilions?

1. Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion: Housed in the Sustainability District, the pavilion envisions what the near future could look like if we lived in harmony with nature and sustainable technology.

Designed by Grimshaw Architects, Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion is a sophisticated constellation of natural and solar-powered trees. Image Credit: Supplied

Designed by Grimshaw Architects, the structure is a sophisticated constellation of natural and solar-powered trees. Terra’s unique architecture makes use of 4,912 solar panels on its 130-metre-wide canopy and 18 energy trees to achieve its goal of net-zero energy and water consumption. After Expo wraps up, the pavilion is aiming to generate its own power and recycle the water it consumes, making it 100 per cent self-sufficient.

Terra was open to the public for twelve weeks during the Pavilions Premiere for an exclusive sneak peek.

What is there to see at Terra?

Latin for ‘Home Earth’, Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion takes the visitor through an interactive journey made up of three phases. This immersive experience raises awareness about our impact on the planet and hopes to transform our harmful habits by the end of the visit:

- Through the wadi

Have you ever imagined what the Arabian Peninsula looked like in the past? At Terra, you are transported to a typical Arabian wadi – a dry riverbed – where precious wildlife like mega elephants and cheetahs once roamed.

- Under the forest

The ‘green’ experience is now accessible at the Sustainability Pavilion. It teaches us all a few lessons about sustainability and preserving nature through an interactive walk among forest roots and fungi.

You will meet Gnasher, a giant consumption machine that shows how natural resources are being destroyed Image Credit: Supplied

Keep an eye out for these when you go under the forest:

  • Wood-Wide-Web
  • Empathy Nets
  • The Forest Floor
  • Gnasher

- Under the ocean

Dive into the ocean, home to over a million marine species, at Terra. Inside the ocean’s midnight zone, listen to how whales sound when they sing, and meet the rankled anglerfish whose body is blocked with discarded plastic.

PW_200128_EXPO202DUBAI_TERRA_8 _under the ocean-1580207272265
Explore the beauties and mysteries under the ocean Image Credit: Supplied

Keep an eye out for these when you go under the ocean:

  • The Giant Fish
  • The Deep Infinity Room
  • Whale Vortex Tunnel
  • Jellyfish

2. Mission Possible – The Opportunity Pavilion: Nestled in the Opportunity District, the pavilion is meant to be a thriving hub of likeminded people who want to foster connections and, as a result, inspire generations.

A brainchild of AGi Architects, Mission Possible – The Opportunity Pavilion of the pavilion is made up of iridescent glass-like trapeziums stacked on top of one another. Image Credit: Supplied

A brainchild of AGi Architects, the structure of the pavilion is made up of iridescent glass-like trapeziums stacked on top of one another. It takes inspiration from the age-old concept of plazas, where people from all walks of life and backgrounds mingled despite their differences.

What is there to see at Mission Possible?

Working towards the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals is a vital mission at this pavilion. You can start by seeking inspiration from three individuals just like you who helped their communities in small but impactful ways.

- Meet the three mentors

  • Abel, from Peru, made fog nets to capture water
  • Mama Fatma, from Zanzibar, brought solar panels to her community
  • Mariam, from UAE, taught people how to grow food even in very small homes

- Make a pledge

At the end of the pavilion experience, visitors are invited to make a pledge to contribute to a better future for all, where accessibility to food, water, and energy is no longer a luxury.

3. Alif – The Mobility Pavilion: The jewel of the Mobility District, Alif is a futuristic marvel that looks into how we can transport goods, people, and ideas faster than ever before.

Architects Foster + Partners work the concept of speed into Alif – The Mobility Pavilion's facade that resembles the infinity loop in a trefoil, featuring the world’s largest lift at its axis. Image Credit: Supplied

Architects Foster + Partners work the concept of speed into the pavilion facade that resembles the infinity loop in a trefoil, featuring the world’s largest lift at its axis. Tech wonders galore, the pavilion is also home to a 340-metre high-speed track that runs under and above the ground, so keep your eyes peeled for the latest mobility devices zooming about.

What is there to see at Alif?

Alif, the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, signifies the start of everything, even human progress. Explore the three lobes of the pavilion that take you through the history of mobility to performances of drones.

- The world’s largest lift: This spacious platform can carry up to 160 passengers at a time (38 based on current social distancing restrictions) all the way to the third level of the building – and it is one of a kind in the whole world.

- House of Wisdom: The world’s biggest lift takes you to the grand library of ninth-century Baghdad – an intellectual centre of the Islamic Golden Age. Here, you will meet nine-metre-tall installations of the giants of exploration: Al Bakri, Ibn Battuta, and Ibn Majid.

- The Bowl Amphitheatre: Upon exiting the Alif pavilion experience, visitors can relax at a large amphitheatre with 500 seats.

Where are the country pavilions located?

While some country pavilions can be found within the Thematic Districts, most are distributed across the outer perimeter of the wings near the concourse.

Visitors will find the UAE Pavilion nestled between the Opportunity and Sustainability Districts and behind a circular path called Avenue of the Nations.

Did you know?
Expo 2020 Dubai is the only World Expo in history to feature individual pavilions for each participating country.

What was the Expo 2020 Pavilions Premiere?

Expo 2020 Dubai briefly opened its gates to the general public for a glimpse of what is to come in October 2021. This was known as the Pavilions Premiere and lasted for about twelve weeks, from January 22 to April 10, 2021.

A preview of Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion was open to the public as part of the Pavilions Premiere and lasted for about twelve weeks from January 22 to April 10, 2021. Image Credit: Supplied

Of the Thematic Pavilions, only Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion was showcased during this period, while the remaining two were hidden from the public eye, reserved for the official unveiling in October.

What are the curated journeys at Expo?

Visitors at the Expo will be able to explore the mega-event through curated itineraries, available on the Expo 2020 Mobile App, themed around their passions and interests.

From couples and architecture aficionados to family friendly tours, every visitor has a tailored trip waiting for them.

Stock EXPO 2020 Site 28
Expo Essentials, Expo for Foodies, Expo Health and Wellness and Expo Energy Journey are just some of the itineraries that the event will offer its visitors. Image Credit: Supplied

Is there a mobile app for the event?

Yes, Expo 2020 has its own dedicated mobile app that will launch close to the main event in September, 2021. With the help of the official app, you will be able to enjoy exclusive built-in features to enhance your visitor experience like creating your very own schedule of events, attractions, and parades, as well as planning your journey to the site.

Expo is also set to launch a special app for people of determination called PODium, developed in collaboration with SAP, which is the event’s Innovative Enterprise Software Partner. This will be an inclusive support guide dedicated to visitors with visual or hearing impairments, autism or intellectual impairment, dementia, photosensitive epilepsy or reduced mobility.

I’m a person of determination. How can I get around Expo 2020?

For the first time ever in World Expo history and in the Arab region, an exposition has been certified as a sensory accessible event.

Expo has met the high standards of the International Board of Sensory Accessibility (IBSA) through its numerous initiatives to make the event as accessible to autistic and sensory sensitive individuals as possible.

- Parking: People of determination can park in accessible zones at the Opportunity, Sustainability and Mobility parking lots. The short commute from the parking lot to the arrival plazas is covered by wheelchair-friendly golf buggies.

- Toilets: Accessible toilets are dispersed throughout the Expo site. Expo 2020 also offers standalone accessible toilets and four Changing Places toilets, which contain an adjustable changing board and hoists for transfer.

- Quiet rooms: Those with sensory sensitivities or anyone requiring a calm environment can seek out one of the four quiet rooms at four of the site’s Information Centres. They can relax in a sensory pod, a sensory corner or on a sofa.

- Wheelchair availability: Manual and electric wheelchairs will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Visitors should keep in mind that these are limited.

The show also offers accessibility services such as sunflower lanyards, tactile features, hearing enhancement systems and much more.

What happens after Expo 2020 Dubai is over?

More than 80 per cent of the event site will be repurposed for a smart, futuristic city known as District 2020 in Dubai. This is in line with Expo’s vision to foster lasting connections and leave behind a permanent legacy, all the while staying true to its goals to deliver one of the most sustainable World Expos ever.

Expo’s three Thematic District wings - Opportunity, Sustainability and Mobility - will transition into commercial and residential areas. Image Credit: Supplied

The following flagship Expo structures will undergo transition for the legacy phase:

  • Al Wasl Plaza, the heart of Expo 2020 Dubai, will continue to function as a linking hub surrounded by hotels and offices
  • Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion will become the Children and Science Centre
  • Alif – The Mobility Pavilion will transform into an office space among several other buildings
  • The UAE Pavilion, the largest one onsite, will turn into a cultural centre along with its adjacent buildings
  • DP World Pavilion, Expo’s global trade partner, will continue on as a permanent faculty dedicated to innovation and education in trade logistics
  • Expo’s three Thematic District wings - Opportunity, Sustainability and Mobility - will transition into commercial and residential areas
  • Enoc’s Service Station of the Future, which is the first LEED Platinum-certified service station in the world, will continue to serve the public post-event at District 2020
  • Visual art installations in the public realm and the districts will continue on as living remnants of the event
  • Rove Expo 2020 - the only onsite hotel - will retain its place next to Al Wasl Plaza after Expo

How many countries are participating in Expo 2020?

Expo 2020 Dubai is bringing 191 countries to the UAE.

Which countries are based in each Thematic District?

Here's a look at some of the country pavilions that visitors can drop by while globetrotting on Expo grounds in each Thematic District or subtheme of Sustainability, Opportunity and Mobility:

1. Examples of Country Pavilions and their themes under Sustainability

- Czech Republic: ‘Czech Spring’

Designed by the Czech architecture studio Formosa AA, the two-storey pavilion is shaded by 12-metre-tall organic capillaries carrying specially treated water. Image Credit: Supplied

Czech Republic Pavilion showcases ways to harness solar energy to create water from air, which further cultivates the desert ground, thereby promoting sustainability. People visiting the pavilion will be able to witness a spectacular canopy made of fiberglass pipes, an oasis, a rotating exhibition focused on the culture of Czech Republic and so on. Visitors will also be able to try out the Czech-cuisine restaurant and explore a meeting room made for delegates.

- Germany: ‘Campus Germany’

The country pavilion, titled ‘Campus Germany’, is focused on imparting knowledge in a didactic way. Image Credit: Supplied

German Pavilion centres on energy, future cities, and biodiversity labs. At Expo, Germany will offer an 'edutainment' learning through an intelligent assistance system that will act as a personal guide at the pavilion. By the end of it all, visitors will 'graduate' from the experience at a dedicated hall.

- Malaysia: ‘Energising Sustainability’

malaysia pavilion expo 2020
The pavilion’s ‘Energising Sustainability’ theme captures Malaysia’s commitment to balance socio-economic progress with environmental concerns, to ensure a secure and sustainable future. Image Credit: Supplied

Malaysia's zero-carbon pavilion showcases how the country's cities ensure low carbon emissions and encourages sustainable agriculture for the future. A campaign titled #MyButterflyEffect, which targets the country’s efforts to maintain a balance between progress and the environment, will be executed.

- Netherlands: ‘Uniting Water, Energy and Food’

netherlands pavilion expo 2020
The Netherlands Pavilion displays a harmonious trifecta of water, energy and food solutions packed into a biotope. Image Credit: Supplied

The Netherlands Pavilion shows the world how to harvest water, food and energy in a cone-shaped vertical farm. Designed as a biotope, the pavilion's farm cone grows its own mushrooms and greens by gathering water from air and using it to irrigate the structure, all powered by the sun's rays.

- Philippines: ‘Bangkóta: Philippine Coral Reef’

Philippine pavilion Expo 2020 -02
Designed in the shape of a coral reef or Bangkota, Philippines Pavilion displays the culture of the country and is eager to foster meaningful encounters all around the world. Image Credit: Supplied/Budji+Royal Architecture

Designed in the shape of a coral reef or Bangkota, the pavilion displays the culture of the Philippines and is eager to foster meaningful encounters all around the world. Rich in its history, the Philippines Pavilion will show a sustainable culture with a vision for the future through an interactive tour.

2. Examples of Country Pavilions and their themes under Opportunity

- United Arab Emirates: ‘Introducing the UAE's rich culture and bright future’

Expo 2020 UAE Pavilion
Staying true to its falconry tradition, the nation shows that it plans to soar to new heights with the UAE Pavilion facade resembling the bird in flight. Image Credit: Supplied

The UAE will stun guests at first sight with the largest pavilion on the site spanning 15,000 square metres across and four storeys tall. Staying true to its falconry tradition, the nation shows that it plans to soar to new heights with the facade resembling the bird in flight. Here visitors will find an auditorium and VIP lounges apart from the exhibition areas, which focus on showcasing the Emirati culture and the bold leaps the nation has taken to be here today.

- Austria: ‘Austria makes sense’

austria pavilion expo 2020
Situated in the Opportunity District, the Austria Pavilion will prepare a holistic journey for visitors and open up avenues for firms showcasing their digital innovation solutions at Expo 2020 Dubai. Image Credit: Supplied

With 38 cones made of clay forming the pavilion, Austria encourages the emergence of sustainable buildings for the future. The pavilion's cooling, no-air-conditioner ventilation technique was inspired by the Arab wind towers and Austrian innovation. An exhibition titled ‘iLab’ will feature creative, resourceful initiatives and inspiring solutions as well. One of the main attractions of the Austria Pavilion will be the Vienna Coffeehouse.

- Italy: ‘Beauty Connects People’

Orange powder and coffee beans are just some of the ingredients that make the Italy Pavilion an example of circular architecture at Expo 2020 Dubai. Image Credit: Twitter/@ItalyExpo2020

See how dried orange peels and ground coffee with a pinch of algae and a sprinkle of recycled plastic all come together to create the Italy Pavilion. A spectacular 3D replica of Michelangelo’s world-famous David sculpture will also greet visitors at the centre of the pavilion, all five metres of the statue.

- Luxembourg: ‘Resourceful Luxembourg’

Enveloped by a one-sided, loopy Mobius band, the 2,100-metre-square Luxembourg pavilion is a testament to the nation's commitment to reinvent itself with every world fair, taking it a step further in the realm of circular economy at Expo 2020 Dubai. Image Credit: Sahar Ejaz/Gulf News

Luxembourg Pavilion is the only pavilion to have a slide, yes, a giant tube slide that is perfumed with the woodlands of the Mullerthal region. The pavilion’s facade is inspired by the loopy properties of a Möbius band, which symbolises the dynamism and openness of Luxembourg. There is also the ‘Schengen Lounge’, an open-kitchen restaurant where foodies can dine in or order takeout meals in the ‘Luxembourg on a plate’ corner.

- Monaco: ‘Monaco 360° – a World of Opportunities’

Monaco Pavilion
Inspired by the 'Rock of Monaco', this gem-like, polygonal pavilion will take visitors on a multi-sensory journey through mirrored exhibition spaces, replicating the sights and smells of the French Riviera. Image Credit: Expo 2020 Dubai

The Principality brings the Rock of Monaco to Expo in the form of a kaleidoscope to reflect the many facets of the nation. The boulder-shaped structure is constructed from solar panels that will store sunlight for activities during the night. Keep an eye out for the kaleidoscopic 360-degree exhibit of the Monegasque culture and experience sunny skies and natural scents of the French Riviera in ‘The Garden of Opportunities.’

3. Examples of Country Pavilions and their themes under Mobility

- Belgium: ‘Smart and Green Belgium 2050’

belgium pavilion expo 2020 dubai
Designed by Vincent Callebaut Architectures and Assar Architects, the zero-waste building sports a vertical garden of 10,000 plants that are capable of absorbing up to 35 tonnes of carbon dioxide and converting it into oxygen. Image Credit: Twitter/@VCALLEBAUT

Belgium Pavilion invites the world to marvel at its smart green inventions and snack along the way. The ‘green arch’ of the pavilion is a testament to the country’s sustainable mission and vision for the future. Watch how the pavilion runs on renewable energy and feeds 10,000 plants with smart tech. Visitors are also in for a mouth-watering treat – the nation’s world-famous fries.

- Djibouti: ‘Land of Trade and Meeting’

djibouti pavilion expo
Visitors will step into a ship-container pavilion that represents the Djibouti's goals of becoming Africa’s leading logistics centre. Image Credit: Expo 2020 Dubai

Join Djibouti in its ambitious plans to go green by the year 2035. Visitors will step into a ship-container pavilion that represents the country's goals of becoming Africa’s leading logistics centre. Walk through a meandering narrow path and explore Djibouti’s handcrafted household objects.

- Estonia: ‘The most advanced digital society in the world’

Estonia Pavilion, located in the Mobility District, will narrate the smart nation's digital journey across all sectors, from e-healthcare to e-government systems Image Credit: Expo 2020 Dubai

Estonia strives to connect governments, citizens and enterprises to ensure swift flow of digital information. Also known as the smart state, the nation envisions digital societies of the future with e-solutions. Bite into Estonian cuisine as you take a walk under data clouds at the Estonia Pavilion.

- France: ‘Light, Enlightenment’

France Pavilion takes on the theme of light to value the roots of modern democracy while championing renewable energy. Image Credit: Supplied

France Pavilion takes on the theme of light to value the roots of modern democracy while championing renewable energy. Visitors can enjoy enchanting light shows at the entrance and admire the 2,500-square-metre stretch of solar panels on the facade. A promenade surrounded by 1,160 square metres of gardens and a terrace that offers a panoramic view of the Expo site are some other features you cannot miss out on.

- Ireland: ‘Ireland – Island of Inspiration’

ireland pavilion expo 2020
The Ireland Pavilion encapsulates 5,000 years of history in an immersive exhibit while celebrating its contemporary talents in a hybrid cultural space. Image Credit: Gulf News/Ahmed Ramzan

The two-part structure of the Ireland Pavilion will unveil 5,000 years of Irish tradition and history. In the Oculus, visitors can view a 360-degree exhibition on the inspiring nation and its rich culture. Meanwhile, the Garden is dedicated to housing performances and live events.

What other pavilions are there to visit besides the Country Pavilions?

Apart from the Thematic and country Pavilions, Expo will be home to organisations, its partners and other inspiring showcases for six months.

Organisation pavilions: In the Opportunity District, visitors can check out the African Union Pavilion, Dubai Cares Pavilion, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Pavilion and League of Arab States Pavilion. Whereas, in the Mobility District, there is the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Pavilion.

Partner pavilions: Dubai-based international airline Emirates is the event's official airline and Premiere Partner with its own pavilion, where it will showcase the future of commercial aviation.

Expo's Premier Global Trade Partner DP World ensures the smooth and steady flow of everything the show needs, from the Al Wasl Dome to raw materials needed for construction. The four-storey pavilion even has a giant digitised waterfall.

ENOC, Expo's Official Integrated Energy Partner, will explain its energy story in a 180-degree cinematic narrative at its dedicated pavilion in the Opportunity District.

Special pavilions: Along with the three Thematic Pavilions, Expo is dedicating its floor to celebrate innovation and women at the The Good Place Pavilion and Women's Pavilion, respectively.

The Good Place by Expo Live is a platform that empowers social innovators from around the globe and helps them network with the right accelerators. Enter this inspirational space and walk out with the resolution to do some good.

For the first time ever since the 1900s, women's stories will be shared and listened to in a dedicated space at a World Expo. The Women's Pavilion will host a series of sessions that explore the role of women in sustainable development, biodiversity and space exploration, adapted to the exposition’s focus week agenda.

Who are the official mascots of Expo 2020 Dubai?

At Expo 2020 Dubai, there are six mascots that weave a fantastical universe starring a heroic sibling duo and their robot guardians. Visitors can find them at the arrival plazas and around the venue.

Salama is an ancient and wise Ghaf tree that carries with her the history of the UAE, highlighting the young nation’s stability, resilience, and tolerance.

mascots expo
Latifa and Rashid along with their three robot guardians Alif, Opti and Terra and Salma the Ghaf tree are the mascots of Expo 2020 Dubai. Image Credit: Expo 2020 Dubai

Latifa and Rashid are Emirati siblings interested in the sciences and the environment, ever-prepared to take on the challenge of unravelling Salama’s secrets.

Alif, Opti and Terra are robot guardians of their respective pavilions – Mobility, Opportunity, and Sustainability – who earnestly help the siblings on their quest.

What can visitors eat on site?

Expo 2020 is a global event that caters to a global audience's taste buds. The gastronomy experience is as diverse as it can get with more than 200 food and beverage outlets.

Aside from country pavilions dishing up their own cuisines, Terra - The Sustainability Pavilion offers a menu designed around planetary health diet, a diet that can help manage precious limited food resources.

With Talabat the official food delivery platform for Expo 2020 Dubai, you can have your food delivered to you without walking to your favourite eatery.

How do I get to the Expo 2020 Dubai site by car?

Expo 2020 is served by a special route called the Expo Road (E77).

1. Using your GPS, type in ‘Expo 2020 Dubai’.

2. If you are on Sheikh Zayed Road (E11), take Exit 20 to reach Expo Road (E77).

  • Alternatively, if you are on Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road (E311), take Exit 20 to merge on to Expo Road (E77), or
  • If you are on Emirates Road (E611), take the Expo Road (E77) exit before the bridge.

3. Follow the yellow signboards pointing to the direction of Expo 2020 Dubai.

4. As you get closer to the venue, head to one of the four parking lots of your preferred gate.

signboard of expo2020 in Dubai
A signboard of Expo 2020 in Dubai. Image Credit: Gulf News

Where can I park at the Expo site?

The Expo site will serve visitors with four spacious parking zones free of charge:

  • Opportunity parking zone, accessible from the Expo Road (E77)
  • Sustainability parking zone, accessible from the Expo Road (E77) or Sheikh Zayed Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan Road (D54)
  • Mobility parking zone, accessible from the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road (E311)
  • Dubai Exhibition Centre parking zone, accessible from the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road (E311)
Electric Vehicle (EV) charging
In the Sustainability, Mobility and Opportunity parking lots, there are a limited number of EV charging points.

The timings for Expo’s parking lots are:

  • 8.30am to 1am, Saturday to Wednesday
  • 8.30am to 3am, Thursday to Friday and special days

Valet parking is also available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Since the parking lots are expansive, it can be easy to forget where you parked. QR codes located at the end of each parking row will help visitors find their way back to the car. 

Nissan parking area
Visitors driving a Nissan have the privilege to park closer to the gates in the Mobility and Sustainability parking zones. This special Nissan parking area owes to Expo’s official partnership with the automobile manufacturer.

Parking slots in the area are limited and will be subject to a first-come, first-serve basis.

Car park shuttle service

Visitors don't have to worry about the distance between their parked vehicles and the gates with Expo's dedicated shuttle service that will transport eventgoers to the gate and back on a high frequency basis.

How do I get to the Expo 2020 Dubai site by bus?

There is good news for visitors without private cars – they can arrive at Expo using a special fleet of buses for free. This complimentary fleet called the Expo Rider buses will take you directly to the four gates of Expo 2020: the Metro gate and the Sustainability, Mobility and Opportunity gates.

expo bus
Picture used for illustrative purposes only Image Credit: Sahar Ejaz/Gulf News

From where can I board the Expo Rider buses?

The free, wheelchair-friendly Expo Rider buses will be available to board from locations in Dubai and other cities in the near future, which will be announced closer to the event date. Visitors should keep in mind that the bus also operates on a first-come, first-serve basis. On your way back home from Expo, make sure to board the bus from the same stop you got down at.

So further good news is that if you prefer to travel using public transport, you can plan your trip to ultimately arrive at one of the Expo Rider bus stops.

How do I get to the Expo 2020 Dubai Site by Dubai Metro?

A dedicated metro station, Expo 2020 Station, is directly linked to the venue. Soon visitors will be able to board the train to and from the site via the brand new 15km Red Line extension known as Route 2020. The route has a total of seven stations: five that are elevated and additional two that will run underground.

Expo 2020 Metro station
Expo 2020 Dubai is served by its own dedicated metro station called the Expo 2020 Station that will open access to visitors on October 1, 2021. Image Credit: Twitter/@expo2020dubai

Route 2020 will serve major residential areas like The Gardens, Discovery Gardens, Al Furjan, Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai Investment Park, and District 2020.

Expo 2020 Station will officially open to the public on October 1, when the event kicks off, according to the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), which states the station will serve around 35,000 to 47,000 visitors daily.

RTA Dubai Zones and Railway Lines
Metro routes cover Dubai Zones 1 to 6, and ticket prices will vary depending on which zone you choose to travel to and from. The city’s metro network is made up of two lines – the Green Line runs from Al Qusais to the Red Line, which ends in Jebel Ali.

How do I get around the Expo site?

Expo grounds are vast and, though the concourses are walkable, covering a 438-hectare site on foot does not make for a feasible option. To tackle this, Expo has introduced the following transport services for visitors to stay mobile around the venue:

1. Expo People Mover

The Expo People Mover is a low-floor bus fleet that dispatches from several stops onsite, and it comes around every three minutes. This free of charge and stroller/wheelchair-friendly bus can be found in the following key areas:

  • Sustainability, Opportunity, and Mobility District gates
  • 2020 Plaza
  • Al Forsan Park
  • Al Jubilee Park

2. Expo 2020 train

Expo’s wheelchair-friendly train will take visitors around the venue for sightseeing.

3. Golf buggies

On limited availability, these buggies can seat an entire family (some are wheelchair accessible) and are driven by a trained driver.

I'm a travelling visitor. Where can I stay for Expo 2020 Dubai?

Visitors can choose to reside at the heart of Expo, where next to Al Wasl Plaza stands the Rove Expo 2020 hotel - the only hospitality premises onsite - that offers 312 rooms and 19 suites. From this special vantage point, eventgoers will have the privilege of enjoying scenic Al Wasl Plaza views.

rove expo 2020
The only onsite hotel's booking options offer visitors 312 king, twin and accessible Rover Rooms as well as 19 Rover suites. Image Credit: Twitter/@expo2020dubai

As for outside of Expo, there are short-stay rental options in and around the Dubai South district that are diverse and budget-friendly. From homestays to AirBnB and hotels, the world exposition’s convenient location makes it easier for globetrotters and staycation lovers to drop in to witness the gathering of the world.

Who are the Expo 2020 Premiere Partners?

  • Accenture
  • Cisco
  • DP World
  • Emirates NBD
  • Etisalat
  • Emirates
  • MasterCard
  • Nissan
  • PepsiCo
  • SAP
  • Siemens
  • Terminus

Who are the Expo 2020 Dubai Official Partners?

  • Christie
  • Dubai Chamber
  • Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA)
  • EMAAR Hospitality
  • ENOC
  • L’Oréal
  • UPS

Who are the Expo 2020 Dubai Official Providers?

  • Al Ain Farms
  • Canon
  • Digital14
  • Domino’s
  • Esharah
  • Jacobs
  • Mace
  • Orient
  • Swatch

Is there a specific dress code to be followed at Expo 2020 Dubai and around UAE?

Since Expo 2020 will be held towards the end of summer, carrying lightweight clothes during the initial months is recommended. In case you’re extending your stay into December, then carrying a thin jacket is also advised.

- Sahar Ejaz is an intern with Gulf News.