Expo 2020 Dubai: a meeting of minds and a blueprint for the future

In two years, up to 25 million visitors will flock to the world's greatest festival of ideas and innovation

A handout rendering of World Expo public space (Courtesy: Dubai Expo 2020) *** Local Caption ***  bz31ja-dubai-expo02.jpg
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It is fitting that the World Majlis, which will be the beating heart of Expo 2020 Dubai, had its debut this week in New York, as the leaders of 193 nations gathered for the UN’s annual General Assembly. An ancient concept, transported to the heart of this world city, the power of the simple majlis to connect disparate people and ideas became vividly apparent. In the process, the world was given a glimpse of the true meaning of the theme of Expo 2020: connecting minds, creating the future.

In just over two years, the first of an estimated 25 million visitors will begin arriving in the UAE for the first Expo to be staged in the Middle East. This “festival of human ingenuity”, almost certainly the largest coming together of humanity in the region, will doubtless dazzle and entertain, with all the flair for which the UAE is renowned. But, above all, Expo 2020 will be a unique opportunity to focus the attention of the world on the issues that matter most, in the hope of promoting meaningful, long-term change for the benefit of all humankind. As such, the six-month universal exposition beginning on October 20, 2020, has the potential to be a defining event for all the world.

The three key themes – opportunity, mobility and sustainability – chime with those of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, a blueprint for a better global future adopted in 2015 and due for delivery by 2030. Nothing better illustrates this synchronicity than Dubai’s Opportunity Pavilion, unveiled this week, which has been created with the ambitious intention of raising the consciousness of all who pass through its doors. Through the use of innovative interactive displays, the pavilion will offer the opportunity for each individual to witness the impact of their own life choices on the planet at large. They will, it is hoped, enter as visitors but leave as change-makers.

The clear message, which resonates with the UN’s determination that in this fast-moving age no human being should be left behind, is that each one of us has a vital role to play in addressing the pressing issues of our time. The logo of Expo 2020 was inspired by the design of an ancient gold ring, unearthed at an archaeological site near Dubai in 2002. That discovery bore witness to the 4,000-year-old history of a region that has served as a nexus of civilisation for millennia. As the symbol of Expo 2020, it symbolises the future of the UAE as a hub, not only for travel and trade but also for the exchange of social, cultural and technological ideas central to the very future of humankind.