It is nearly eight years since Dubai delivered its Expo 2020 bid to the Bureau International des Expositions and six years since it won the honour to stage the prestigious event, triggering jubiliant scenes across the nation. Just over a year remains before an estimated 25 million visitors begin pouring into the UAE to experience the first World Expo ever to be held in the Middle East.
Dubai's bid was an ambitious initiative utterly in keeping with the "build it and they will come" philosophy that has always fuelled this city's exciting growth. Over the past six years, the enthusiasm and imagination that went into preparing the bid have been transformed into a single-minded commitment to create what promises to be one of the most astonishing expos the world has ever seen. Earlier this week, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, toured the falcon-inspired Expo 2020 site to witness the progress that has already been made. With all that the city has achieved in such a short time, few could doubt his proud prediction that Dubai is in the throes of creating the best expo in the 168-year-old history of the World's Fair.
Residents can now follow the progress for themselves by taking advantage of the free bus tours of the site on offer and witnessing the creation of the pavilions of 192 nations, each an astonishing architectural marvel in its own right. Also rising out of the desert sand are the three main pavilions, devoted to the expo's future-facing messages of opportunity, mobility and sustainability. The expo's central theme of "connecting minds, creating the future", is no hollow slogan. In October next year, before the UAE is even a half-century old, the long-anticipated site will throw open its doors to the world and take both residents and visitors from far-flung destinations along on a thrilling journey to do just that. The UAE's role on the world stage has long been established. Now it is poised to stage the greatest show the world has ever seen.