Doha Expo: Millions expected for Qatar's green tech event

Small gulf country plans a leading role in the region's path towards enhancing sustainable agricultural production

Middle East, Qatar, Doha City, View of West Bay Skyline with cityscape, boat floating on water in foreground (Photo by: JTB Photo/UIG via Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***  bz13ja-qatar-investments.jpg
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Eighty countries, three million visitors and 2,500 volunteers are expected to converge at a venue spread over 1.7 million square metres in a mega event addressing an urgent concern – the mitigation of desertification.

After successfully hosting the Fifa World Cup for more than 3.4 million fans, Qatar is preparing to welcome the world again for The International Horticultural Exhibition.

“Being a desert country, Qatar is facing challenges brought by climate change, and aims to leverage this event to showcase cutting-edge sustainable technologies and solutions,” said Bader Al Dafa, the Commissioner General of Expo 2023 Doha.

The Green Desert, Better Environment event will be held at the sprawling Al Bidda Park from October 2, 2023 to March 28, 2024, and the activities will be centred around four themes: Modern Agriculture, Technology & Innovation, Environmental Awareness, and Sustainability.

Event Attractions

Discover Qatar, the destination management company of Qatar Airways, is offering complimentary entry vouchers to all international travellers for the duration of Expo 2023 Doha.

“Qatar’s efforts to enhance agricultural production through research, hydroponic farming, innovative irrigation systems, and renewable energy investments have yielded impressive results, as evidenced by its high ranking in the Economist 2022 Global Food Security Index, Mr Al Dafa said.

“These initiatives will be showcased to inspire other nations to adopt similar sustainable practices.”

In keeping with its theme, the event features GSAS green-certified venues and will be providing free pavilions to more than 35 of the world's least developed countries, Mr Al Dafa said.

It has also set ambitious environmental goals such as a 75 per cent recycling rate for construction waste as well as repurposing materials from the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022.

“Desertification threatens the livelihoods of millions and contributes to environmental and economic difficulties. By focusing on sustainable innovations for the cultivation of trees and crops in arid lands, this expo aims to reverse desertification problems evident worldwide," said Dr Yousef Alhorr, founding chairman of Gulf Organisation for Research & Development (Gord).

“The significance of this event extends beyond Qatar’s borders.”

As the sustainability partner for the expo, Gord is responsible for developing sustainability reports from preparation through to operation and dismantlement phase of the event, as well as supporting the expo in implementing the green certification GSAS EcoLeaf for Expos and Festivals.

The event venue has an Innovation Centre which Dr Alhorr says is envisioned as a “magnet for researchers, innovators and industry leaders to explore the latest green horticultural solutions and collaborate on their wider adoption”.

The Expo will have an international zone, a cultural zone, a family zone, a farmer’s market, as well as a biodiversity museum, indoor domes, sponsors' area, and a grandstand arena.

“We are building a greenhouse that will show all the agri-tech that we have developed in the last 13 years,” said Nasser Ahmed Al Khalaf, managing director of Agrico.

Educational for all

Agrico will be conducting workshops for more than 180 schools where they will teach students to grow vegetables by making their own soil.

There are also plans for universities and private companies to conduct research during the six-month period and develop a model for a sustainable agriculture system to combat desertification.

“In the last decade we have seen a lot of terms such as ‘green’ and ‘sustainability’ being thrown around, but little is known about what they mean ,” said Ghanim AlSulaiti, who owns several sustainable vegan businesses in Qatar.

“Sustainability is about making the life process better. It includes everything from how we eat, how we commute … it is a lifestyle, it’s continuous work.”

And while he is excited about what countries from South-East Asia have to offer, he is “mostly looking forward to what Qatar has to say”.

“We are a small country. What works for sustainability in New York and Los Angeles will not work here. We have to create initiatives that fit Doha and Qatar, whether it is about food or renewable energy.”

Updated: September 28, 2023, 2:00 PM