Al Wasl Dome
An artist’s rendition of Al Wasl Dome, which will be the world’s largest 360-degree projection surface when complete Image Credit: Supplied

As we celebrate the occasion of the UAE’s 48th National Day, looking back with pride at the past decades that have helped drive the country’s incredible progress since its founding in 1971, it is also a pertinent juncture to gaze forward towards an exciting future.

We are mere weeks away from flipping the calendar to 2020, the year the most nationally significant event the UAE has ever hosted will open to the entire planet. Expo 2020 Dubai will be the World’s Greatest Show, bringing together 192 participating nations and millions of visitors to create a better future. It will be the Be There moment of our time.

It continues a long, fruitful association for the UAE — the first Emirati participation in a World Expo dates back to 1970, when Abu Dhabi had a pavilion at Expo 1970 Osaka, and the UAE has participated in every World Expo since the country was founded in 1971.

Six weeks ago, we hosted a spectacular celebration in Dubai to mark one year to go until Expo 2020’s much-anticipated opening on October 20, 2020. Thousands of people joined us as global superstar Mariah Carey and acclaimed Emirati artist and Expo 2020 Ambassador Hussain Al Jassmi performed live for the UAE.

Construction of the three Thematic Districts was completed earlier this year, with more than 130 million work hours completed to date on the Expo 2020 site.

- Najeeb Mohammed Al Ali

There are now only 323 days remaining until Expo 2020 begins in earnest. The last leg of our enthralling journey to prepare for the largest event ever to grace the Arab World is gathering pace. There will be many significant milestones in the weeks ahead, and we can’t wait to show the world the results.

We are making great progress and it is truly exciting to see the transformation of the Expo 2020 site from barren desert to a global hub for celebration, inspiration and innovation. We are on track, with all permanent Expo-led construction set to be completed by the end of this month.

Construction of the three Thematic Districts was completed earlier this year, with more than 130 million work hours completed to date on the Expo 2020 site. In September, we crowned the landmark Al Wasl Dome, set to become Dubai’s next iconic landmark; many participating countries have broken ground on their pavilion plots; and the Route 2020 Dubai Metro extension and Expo 2020 Metro station are in their final stages of construction.

Much of this would not have been achieved without the immense support of various government authorities and organisations across the country, which are also working hard to ensure the UAE is ready to welcome millions of visitors to this milestone event.

Expo 2020 UAE Pavilion
Rendition of the UAE Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

We are excited to see the entire country get behind us as we prepare to stage the first World Expo in our region — and are proud to see so many of you have already joined the cause in an array of wonderful ways. For those not yet involved, there are still many opportunities for everyone to be part of the Expo 2020 story.

A total of 30,000 volunteers — a diverse mix of UAE residents and expats — will be the faces of Expo 2020, and you can still join our family if you live in the UAE. If you have children at school, they can now be booked onto any of our four unique, fun itineraries, curated by the Expo School Programme, that will spark their curiosity and complement their educational curricula.

Or simply help us spread the word by telling your friends and family, in the UAE and beyond, about the incredible attractions that await at Expo 2020: a dynamic, diverse and ever-changing events programme — from music, dance and art to poetry slams and live talks; festivals celebrating everything from outer space to the future of design; and more than 60 live events a day, with 192 participating countries showing the very best of their cultures and creativity.

For foodies, we will have 50-plus global cuisines at more than 200 F&B outlets, plus future-shaping culinary tech and delicious culinary tours, while art lovers will be inspired and mesmerised by the array of creative work across the site, from calligraphy benches to contemporary design pieces by celebrated artists, all of which will spotlight the UAE’s creative community on an international stage.

We have many reasons to be positive as we celebrate UAE National Day — and so much more to drive our optimism in the days, weeks and years to come. The results of the first Global Optimism Outlook Survey, commissioned by Expo 2020 Dubai and conducted by YouGov earlier this year, certainly support that view.

The survey of more than 20,000 people across 23 countries around the globe tracked priorities for the future, looking at sustainability, economic growth, technology, travel and more — and found that people are unified in their desire for a more collaborative, inclusive, tolerant, clean and stable planet.

Expo 2020 is committed to driving that positive change — not just during its six-month duration, but for decades to come. Our site will live on as the future city District 2020, using more than 80 per cent of Expo’s built structures, while a variety of initiatives, such as the Expo Generation Programme, are training, inspiring and educating our younger generation to help build a better world.

The UAE’s Golden Jubilee year will begin during Expo 2020 — it will be a truly momentous milestone in the nation’s proud lineage. When we consider the immense achievements of the past five decades, one can only imagine what the country might bring to fruition in the next 50 years, and Expo 2020 Dubai is perfectly positioned to help create that future in a multitude of inspired ways.