I still remember the gala celebrations at The Capital Club way back on November 27, 2013, when Dubai’s win to host Expo 2020 was announced. It was a Wednesday and the party had begun well before the big revelation came at 8.30pm. Dubai Inc was in full force at the upscale venue at Dubai International Financial Centre, where the countdown started at 5pm.
“Everyone thought we were crazy to organise such an event even before the announcement. But Dubai has always been a winner and what better way than this to mark such a momentous occasion,” the private club’s then general manager Emma Cullen had told me.
“Pure Euphoria,” Dr Jane Wegand, a member of the club’s events committee who ran the Book Club at the time, had added, when asked what she would title a book capturing the electric atmosphere, as the hundreds who had gathered burst out with mabrooks amidst a glittering shower of confetti.
Read: When Dubai won the bid to host Expo 2020
Nine years on, with the much-anticipated Expo 2020 Dubai already drawing to a close, I wonder how she, or anyone else, could possibly describe its phenomenal success.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly six months since the event began on October 20, 2020 - and we have just nine days left before the curtains come down.
So much has transpired and so much more has been transacted, making the takeaways of Expo 2020 Dubai, both tangibles and intangibles, difficult to encapsulate.
Ever since the mega site opened, all roads in Dubai have literally led to its surreal portals. These carbon-fibre mesh-like structures at the three thematic districts - Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability – have served not only as imposing gateways to enter The World’s Greatest Show, but also as promising pathways to a limitless future as people walk out.
Never mind the many pavilions and their myriad offerings, there have been so many things to marvel at during this six-month extravaganza. But if there’s one thing that has amazed me above everything else, it is the manner in which the authorities have pulled off an event of this magnitude and impact amid an unprecedented pandemic.
At a time when the globe grappled with COVID-19, Expo 2020 dared to defy the odds – and how. It put into place the most stringent protocols and left no stone unturned to check the spread of the virus. When the time was right, it enabled a safe and confident return to normality.
The world stood at our doorstep, and came in too. But even as the numbers swelled – crossing 20 million visits this week – UAE remained the most resilient country as it tackled COVID-19.
Sure, Expo 2020 Dubai will go down in history because of many reasons. But if you ask me, The World’s Greatest Show will also be remembered as The World’s Best Managed Show - inspite of the pandemic.