Monday, 4 October 2021

A first look at Expo2020

Brace yourself - here comes a looong report from my first visit to the Expo2020 in Dubai. Yalla!

Linda and I went to the Expo2020 for the day yesterday, it actually only takes one hour to drive, from door to parking. So it's not that far away really.
It was actually rather emotional to arrive at site yesterday, finally seeing this enormous showcase now open and in action after being a year delayed because of the pandemic. Expo2020 is an amazing achievement for this young country, being the first World Expo staged in the Middle East.
The delay has also now caused the Expo to happen the same year that the United Arab Emirates are celebrating their 50th anniversary - so expect massive celebrations for the next six months to come!

I loved this big entry portal! There are three of them and they are designed by Asif Khan. The pattern is based on the traditional mashrabiya pattern so often used in designs and architecture here in the UAE.

The Expo2020 site is gianormous! Apparently this World Fair covers an area TWICE as big as Monaco - or if you prefer, 600 football fields! The theme is "Connecting Minds, Creating the Future" and the three sub-themes are Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability. As both the Swedish and NZ pavilions are situated in the latter of these areas, it was natural to make this first visit to the Sustainability part.

The Swedish Pavilion is right by the entrance, it is called the 'Swedish Forest', and the pavilion itself is really spectacular! The patterns in the casing of the pavilion, again, is reminiscent of the mashrabiya, and that combined with the woodland inspired design with the thick, tall trunks of wood is really cool.

If you are interested in keeping up with what is going on in the Swedish Pavilion, you can click here.

One of my favourite photos from the day! This part of the pavilion made me just want to stand there... and breathe... aaahhh...

We were at the Expo for about five hours, but we only managed to visit a total of five pavilions on this visit. The area is not only vast, but it was very, very hot as well.
One of the special pavilions, not belonging to any country, was the Women's Pavilion.

I really liked this pavilion, it highlighted women innovators and the impact women has made on society, in a variety of different fields, like here - art:

The heart of the whole Expo2020 is the Al Wasl Plaza which is dominated by this massive dome featuring an immersive 360 degree projection surface. This is where the inauguration took place last Friday, and many, many more shows and showcases will take place during the run of the Expo. It is situated in the middle of the three sub parts.

The UAE Pavilion is designed to look like a falcon taking flight, with the wing-looking roof panels made to open and close. One of the biggest pavilions on site, and one of the most popular ones.

These photos are all from the outside of the pavilion as the inside was very dark, and crowded, and I actually experienced something close to a panic attack when we were squeezed into a small, badly lit tunnel space, and were told to wait - I had to ask to get let out through an emergency exit! It got way to crowded and claustrophobic for me!

This is the big Expo Water feature. Really cool with water flowing up and down the walls, in rhythm with the music playing.

The Garden in the Sky, an observation tower and flying park all in one, offering 360 degree views over the Expo site from 55m up. I will have to try this next time!


We also went to the New Zealand Pavilion, with a facade that is moving, making it a "living" building. The inspiration for the design comes from the Whanganui River, and the facade ripples and moves, just like water. It is made from a unique kind of mesh and the whole facade only weighs 85 kilograms.

The theme for the NZ Pavilion is 'Care for People and Place' and every element of the pavilion is interconnected, the idea is that we are indivisible from the natural world.

Finally, just before leaving for the day, we squeezed in a visit to the Singapore Pavilion, which quickly became one of our favourites, it reminded me of Gardens by the Bay. It was an immersive 3D greenery experience, where you walked through the vertical gardens higher and higher on a canopy walk inside the building. Very very cool, and refreshing to not be cooped up inside for a change.

As you can see, there is A LOT to see at the Expo2020 - with 192 nations represented PLUS all the special pavilions, and happenings, shows, displays, parades, celebrations and much, much more... I have got a Season Pass, so I'm expecting to come back many more times! It feels like I have only got a whiff of what there is to explore - already looking forward to next time!

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