Expo 2020 Dubai: 100 facts that tell the story of the world fair

From first Great Exhibition, held in London in 1851, to Expo 2020 Dubai – here are some of the most interesting highlights

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Expos have been held every five years, more or less, across the globe since 1851. In celebration of the 100-day countdown to Expo 2020 Dubai, The National looks back at some of the more interesting inventions, landmarks and facts about the World Fair.

1. World Expos are a global gathering of nations to find solutions to pressing challenges of our time

2. The first World Expo or Great Exhibition was in London in 1851

1851:  The facade of Crystal Palace, London, during the Great Exhibition 1851  (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

3. The BIE, Bureau International des Expositions, was created in 1928 to regulate the mega events

4. Expos are typically held every five years for up to six months

5. Participants are countries, international organisations, cities, companies and non-government groups

6. Dubai won the bid to stage the Expo on November 27, 2013

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, NOVEMBER 27, 2013. Members of the puplic congrugate by the Wild Wadi and Burj Al Arab intersection on Jumeirah Beach rd to wait for possible fireworks in celebration of Dubai winning the bid to host Expo 2020. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist None. Section: National

7. Dubai made it to final round of voting in Paris, beating competition from Russia, Turkey and Brazil

8. The World Expo takes place in Dubai from October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022

9. The next World Expo is in 2025 in Japan

10. Japan's focus for their Expo is designing a future society

11. Expo 2020 Dubai's theme is Connecting Minds, Creating the Future

12. The event was postponed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic but kept the name Expo 2020 Dubai

13. Expo 2020 Dubai will be the first held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region

14. More than 200 participants from more than 190 countries are expected

The UAE pavilion with Al Wasl Plaza in the background seen from above at the Dubai Expo 2020 site. Courtesy: Dubai Expo 2020

15. Expo 2020 Dubai will be held over 182 days

16. Some 25 million visits are expected for the Dubai Expo

17. The site is located in the Dubai South area, near Al Maktoum International Airport

18. It covers a total of 438 hectares

19. Three petals make up the main districts: Sustainability, Mobility and Opportunity

20. The districts are linked to Al Wasl Plaza

21. Al Wasl means connection and was Dubai's historic name

22. The 360-degree dome is the world’s largest projection surface

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - January 29, 2020: The inauguration of Al Wasal Plaza at Expo 2020 Dubai site.

( Hamad Al Kaabi / Ministry of Presidential Affairs )

23. Al Wasl is almost as wide as two Airbus A380s placed wing-to-wing

24. It is taller also than the leaning Tower of Pisa

25. The trellis dome is made from 550 tonnes of moulded steel, weighing as much as 25 blue whales

The steel structure that is Al Wasl plaza - the heart of the Expo. Courtesy: Expo 2020 Dubai

26. Expo 2020 Metro Station, with an aircraft wing design, was built to take passengers to the entrance of the World Fair

27. It is the final station on Dubai’s new Route 2020

28. The station can hold 29,000 people per hour during peak hours

The main station at Dubai Expo 2020. Photo: Dubai Expo

29. The UAE pavilion is the biggest and shaped like a falcon in flight

30. Three massive gateways are at the entrance to the three theme districts

31. The six-storey high entry portals are made from high-grade carbon fibre and resin

32. Sustainability, Mobility pavilions, Al Wasl Plaza and Dubai Exhibition Centre will remain after the Expo ends

33. There are more than 1,000 solar panels on Terra, the Sustainability Pavilion

34. The canopy spans 130-metre wide and along with 18 energy trees captures energy from the sun

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , January 16 – 2021 :- Outside view of the Dubai Expo 2020 Sustainability Pavilion during the media tour in Dubai. (Pawan Singh / The National) For News/Online/Instagram/Big Picture. Story by Sarwat

35. This helps generate more than 4 gigawatt hours of alternative energy per year, enough to charge more than 900,000 mobile phones

36. More than 100,000 tourists and residents have had a sneak peek of the Sustainability Pavilion

37. The Mobility Pavilion includes the world’s largest passenger lift that can carry more than 160 people at a time

38. A 330-metre track runs around this pavilion

More than 150 robots will meet and greet visitors at the world expo next year. The friendly machines include Opti, one of the official mascots of Expo 2020. Courtesy: Expo 2020 Dubai

39. Robots, self-driving vehicles and jetpacks will be swoop around this section

40. Dubai Exhibition Centre is a gigantic conference zone for exhibitions, dinners, concerts

41. It can be divided into nine halls that can host between 300 to 20,000 people

42. Siblings Rashid, Latifa and Salama, and the ghaf tree, are Dubai Expo's friendly mascots

43. Nine-year-old Rashid dreams of saving the environment and his younger sister Latifa is a science prodigy

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - September 26, 2019: The official unveiling of the Expo 2020 Mascots. Thursday the 26th of September 2019. World Trade Centre, Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National

44. Other mascots are guardians of the theme pavilions, Alif, a shape-shifting robot, Opti on wheels who moves through space and time and Terra who protects nature

45. There are two parks: Al Forsan and Jubilee

46. A nursery on site helped nurture shrubs and trees from date palms, ghaf and thorny acacia trees

47. It was home to 400,000 shrubs and 13,000 mature trees in the lead up to Expo

48. More than 30,000 volunteers, Emiratis and residents, will assist visitors

49. During peak construction activity, about 40,000 workers were on site

50. Expo 2020’s construction workforce and staff are from 71 nationalities

51. There will be up to 60 live events each day with more than 50 cuisines and 200 food and beverage outlets

52. Al Wasl Opera is being produced in collaboration with Welsh National Opera

53. It will have more than 100 musicians and 70 professionals, including Emirati talent

54. There will be two-hour performances sung in English

55. The opera tells the story of survival and how young and old people learn to listen to each other

56. The Welsh National Opera has designed workshops for primary schoolchildren

57. School choirs will perform 30-minute extracts from Al Wasl Opera at the Expo’s Jubilee Park

Bollywood music composer and singer AR Rahman performs at IIFA Rocks July 14, 2017 at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey during the 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Festival. (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP)

58. Oscar and Grammy-winning composer AR Rahman will mentor musicians in the Firdaus Women’s Orchestra

59. Firdaus means paradise in Arabic and is a unique musical project

60. Fifty female musicians from the Arab world will be selected to perform classical and fusion compositions

61. The performance will include traditional string instruments such as the oud

62. Expo Live provides grants of $100,000 to people anywhere in the world working on solutions that improve lives

63. Funding and guidance has been given to more than 140 initiatives from over 70 countries

64. The schemes empower women entrepreneurs and support teaching workers new skills

65. One initiative involves refugee mothers in Malaysia cooking healthy meals to earn an income

PichaEats is a Malaysia-based catering and meal-box service powered by ‘Picha chefs’ – refugees who create authentic delicacies and cuisines from their homelands. PichaEats has impacted the lives of more than 120 refugees, helping them secure consistent monthly incomes that allow them to send their children to school, pay rent or cover basic expenses. Expo 2020 Dubai is working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support such grass root level projects. Courtesy: Expo 2020 Dubai

66. Another trains farming families in Africa to boost harvests

67. The Expo school programme engages schoolchildren with initiatives, including recycling drives

68. One million visits from schoolchildren have been committed throughout the Expo

69. University and high school pupils in the UAE and overseas can connect with experts on educational tours

70. They can register for three-day Expo tours to explore careers from art to engineering

71. Through its 170-year history, Expos have debuted life-changing ideas and ground breaking inventions

Richard Lansdale took the opportunity to showcase his creation – the Compound Rotary Washing Machine – at World Expo 1862 in London. Photo: Bureau International des Expositions

72. The washing machine was displayed at the 1862 London World Expo to save time in household chores

73. The first typewriter to be a commercial success, the Remington No 1, was displaced at the 1876 Philadelphia World Expo

74. Heinz presented ketchup to the world at the same expo in the United States

75. Visitors to World Expo 1878 Paris were amazed at Thomas Edison’s phonograph in the American pavilion that recorded and played back sound

1878 - Edison and phonograph. Photo: Bureau International des Expositions

76. The X-ray machine was introduced at the1904 St Louis World Expo

77. The first live television broadcast was at the opening ceremony of the 1939 New York World Expo

78. Nylon stockings were also displayed at the NY Expo advertising a ‘world of tomorrow’ in accessible fashion and comfort

79. More than 50 years ago, visitors to the 1970 Osaka World Expo discovered the mobile phone

1970 - telephone. Photo: Bureau International des Expositions / Expo 70 Commemorative Park

80. The worldwide debut of IMAX cinemas was also at the Japanese Expo

81. One of the world's most recognisable structures, the Eiffel Tower was built for the 1889 Paris World Expo

82. The first Expo in 1851, at London’s Crystal Palace, was such a success that organisers used the proceeds from 6 million visitors to build the Victoria and Albert Museum

83. The BIE, an intergovernmental organisation, oversees World Fairs and non-commercial international exhibitions that last more than three weeks

84. The BIE chooses the host country for future Expos

85. Its aim is to guarantee quality and preserve values of education, innovation and co-operation

86. From 31 nations that founded the BIE, the organisation has grown to 169 member states

30th April 1939:  From his car drawn up at the entrance, President Roosevelt (1882 - 1945) waves to the crowds at the opening of the World Fair, New York.  (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

87. The BIE’s General Assembly is the main decision-making body and each member country is entitled to one vote

88. The General Assembly is held twice a year

89. Member nations elect the host of future Expos during a General Assembly

90. The first museum dedicated to World Expos was opened in Shanghai in 2017

91. Swirling shapes of the Dubai Expo 2020 logo are inspired by a 4,000-year-old gold ring found on a desert archaeological site

92. The ring was found by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, when flying over the Sarouq Al Hadeed site in a helicopter

93. The decision to base the Expo logo on the ancient ring was taken by Sheikh Mohammed to represent the nation's deep roots

Dubai 27th of March 2016. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum revealing the new logo of the expo 2020 at the Burj Khalifa. Anna Nielsen for The National

94. Details of ticket prices for the Dubai World Expo will be announced in July

95. People with special needs are allowed free entry and a 50 per cent discount will be given to one companion

96. All visitors, including people with disabilities, must obtain a ticket online

97. Children five and under can enter the site for free and youth up to the age of 17 will get in for half-price

98. More than 80 per cent of the Expo infrastructure will remain in a neighbourhood called District 2020

99. The residential and business community will be a science hub that will use green technology to create a health environment to live and work

100. Masks will be mandatory on the Expo site with thermal cameras at arrival points