Dubai: They are driven, by choice and ambition, to make one of the grandest events, the Expo 2020 Dubai, a transformational experience of global import. With a supple approach to learning, these young minds, Ayesha Al Marzooqi, Sara Al Shaibi and Jaffar Mahmoud, are an integral part of the Expo 2020 workforce. In turn, the multi-faceted Expo experience is shaping their creativity and ambition into a foundational asset.
The areas they work in - Sustainability, International Visits Protocol, and Creative Writer Ceremonies - hold a special significance as these fields accentuate the career trends of tomorrow. And in grooming and nurturing these young minds, Expo 2020 Dubai is providing them with the perfect head start to a lifetime of opportunities.
Ayesha Al Marzooqi ,Emirati, 25, Assistant Manager – Innovation, Sustainability, Expo 2020 Dubai
“The power of sustainability lies in every individual and in all of us working together, because the future is now.”
She majored in Environmental Science and Sustainability at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi and the dye was cast.
“Although they say what you study will be completely different from your job, my studies provided me with a solid background on the topic and concepts of my work,” says Al Marzouqi. “I’m fortunate that my role at Expo 2020 gives me that hands-on opportunity, especially at this early stage of my career.”
The road ahead is paved with her determination to make positive contributions to a more balanced future. And the catalytic nature of Expo 2020, envisioned to create an unforgettable synergy with its visitors, is all set to make sustainability a full-bodied process and experience for all.
Working towards this outcome is what excites Al Marzouqi the most every day as she heads to work. “One of the great things about working at Expo 2020 is that I get to learn something new every day,” she says. “There are always lots of new things to do!
“I have learnt that change is the only constant.”
The importance of the bond between sustainability and the future of the youth underpins her vision. “From innovation to conservation, I have learnt to keep an open mind while ensuring that our actions benefit future generations,” she says. “The field is constantly evolving as the world begins to strive for more sustainable solutions.”
With just over 12 months to go for the big day, Al Marzooqi is assured of Expo 2020 meeting all its goals. “As we draw closer ... we’re excited to inspire millions of visitors to become part of the solution,” she says, of the component that will be the beating heart of the event.
“Visitors play an integral role in our sustainability story. The Sustainability Pavilion will offer an emotional journey, asking visitors to make an environmental pledge that supports positive change. We are very excited for the different and innovative activations, showcases and pavilions that visitors will experience.”
“Even the cuisine at Expo,” she says, “will be eco-friendly thanks to the Food Ethos, a set of values which every F&B vendor must sign and is designed to push forward sustainability and wellness across the broader industry. It is crucial to ensure that sustainability is adopted into economies, environments and communities.”
The reality of sustainability is that it is a virtue in perpetual motion and the Expo 2020’s aim is to accelerate the pace. “At Expo 2020, we integrate sustainability into all aspects of the organisation as we aim to expand our impact beyond the site and the six months of the event.
“Through this, we hope to inspire our visitors and all stakeholders to take action and contribute towards a positive change,” says Al Marzooqi.
Sara Al Shaibi, EMIRATI, 23, Senior Associate – International Visits, Protocol, Expo 2020 Dubai
“Expo 2020 Dubai will be a once-in-a-lifetime celebration.”
She had a dream since 2013 and it was to work at the Expo 2020 Dubai. “ ... the same year that Dubai won the bid to host Expo 2020.
“I worked hard to graduate with a high GPA so I could join the Expo team,” says Al Shaibi.
With a bachelor’s degree majoring in international business management, Al Shaibi’s subject choice was influenced by her passion for international relations and how it can affect businesses around the world. “Politics and the economy are always connected to each other,” she says.
She is also studying for her Master’s degree in diplomacy — and will graduate in August 2020.
She began as an apprentice at Expo for nine months in the Operations department and then was made permanent. Her excellent communication skills and her educational background in international business and diplomacy opened the doors for the opportunity to join Protocol
“I have completed two years [at Expo 2020] and I’m really happy and proud to be part of the World’s Greatest Show,” she says.
The opportunity to work at Expo 2020, with a diverse workforce of 72 nationalities, she says has allowed her to learn more about different global cultures and enabled her to become a more open-minded individual in the field of protocol and diplomacy.
Her work in the Protocol department at Expo 2020 Dubai as Senior Associate — International Visits, means being exposed to a stunning diversity of global delegations.
“My job includes welcoming delegations to Expo, answering their questions and conducting site tours. I’m also licensed by the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) to serve as an official government tour guide,” says Al Shaibi.
The importance of protocol in an event of this scale is self-evident. With a record 192 countries attending, the immaculate detail required to uphold protocol is paramount. “Imagine welcoming to Expo 2020 heads of states, heads of governments, ministers, ambassadors and others. It’s an honour. Their visits and meetings also provide a great opportunity to learn more about international affairs.
“The Protocol department focuses on ensuring that all domestic and international VIP dignitaries receive the highest level of hospitality,” says Al Shaibi. “We aim to ensure they all receive a warm Emirati welcome and experience the hospitality that the UAE is renowned for.”
Expo 2020, she believes, is not just a mega-event that will capture the world’s attention and create business opportunities, “but is also a national project in which every Emirati should participate and take pride in as we welcome the world to our country, where tolerance is our core value.”
The topics Expo 2020 focuses on are key issues that will improve the lives of people in many different countries, says Al Shaibi. “Expo 2020 Dubai will be a once-in-a-lifetime celebration.”
Jaffar Mahmoud, 26, American-Eritrean, Creative Writer, Ceremonies, Expo 2020 Dubai. He’s been in UAE since 2011.
Some individuals pick a role, others are guided towards it. Jaffar Mahmoud belongs to the latter category.
“This wasn’t my original role, I was guided into it,” he says. “I began at Expo as an apprentice for the Communications team. I expressed interest in writing and was given the opportunity to develop my writing. Nearly three years later, now I officially work as a creative writer.”
His role, he Mahmoud, has evolved in countless ways. “I never would’ve guessed I’d end up here. I’ve been very fortunate to have started my career at Expo in a junior role, because it has given me incredible exposure. I’ve worked as a coordinator, I’ve helped manage events and now I’m working as a creative writer.”
What does his role involve? “This can range from writing video scripts or copy to translating complex ideas into simple bite-sized pieces of information that everyone can understand,” he says. “One of the best dimensions of my job is that I often function as the first step in the visualisation of a creative performance. Before anything else is done, I get to work with others to help translate the initial speck of an idea into a more mature creative concept. This then allows for other people to get on board and be aligned with the creative vision and develop it further.”
Igniting the spark that sets the pace for the dazzle to follow, is thrilling. But it is also the biggest challenge. “There is no rule book to how things should be done,” he says. “I often need to rely on the logic of others and on myself to help shape whatever it is I do.”
At the heart of all he does, however, is the visitor. “The most important thing to remember is the visitor,” says Jaffar. “That should always be the first step. What are they expecting to see, how should we make them feel, what do they need to hear? How can we tell them a story that touches their hearts while also carrying our Expo values? If you use that as your jump-off point, things become a bit more manageable.”
As a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies with a specialisation in International Affairs, Distinction with Honours, and the courses in creative writing, scriptwriting that he is currently taking, Jaffar says he is looking to “learn from experts on their methodologies so I can potentially apply them when I face challenges.”
A well-serving lesson he has learnt in his work is “how important it is to capture the essence of the UAE spirit in the content we create. Just as Expo 2020 is an important moment for the world, it’s an incredibly meaningful moment for the history of the UAE and its citizens. It’s an honour to be part of shaping that,” he says.