Expo 2020 Dubai is preparing to welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the globe with spectacular entertainment.
Organisers are confident the six-month World Fair will attract 25 million visits and are optimistic that the international travel situation will improve as more people are inoculated.
This will be the world’s largest in-person event held during the coronavirus pandemic, with Japan shutting borders to overseas sports fans for the Olympics to manage a surge in Covid-19 cases.
The event was postponed for a year to help countries struggling to cope with the pandemic, but was allowed to keep the name Expo 2020 Dubai.
Ticket prices go on sale on Sunday July 18.
It was announced that children under 18, visitors aged 60 and over, students with valid identity cards and people with disabilities given free entry.
Visitor safety will be a priority with testing, physical distancing and mandatory use of facemasks across the site in the Dubai South area.
Hoteliers are predicting that pent-up demand – with people forced to stay home for more than a year – will drive bookings.
The 480-hectare site, spread over an area larger than 600 football fields, has been described as a city of the future, with plans for high-tech launches driven by artificial intelligence.
Countries are racing to complete work on pavilions as Dubai gears up to welcome the world at Expo 2020.
Here is everything you need to know before visiting the Expo 2020 Dubai site.
What will I see?
Three themed areas cover sustainability, mobility and opportunity, with striking buildings that will remain after the Expo ends in March 2021.
More than 100 countries have designed pavilions with unusual displays and innovative architecture. Visitors can watch mushrooms grow inside a vertical farm in the desert at the Dutch pavilion and slide down a three-storey transparent slide in Luxembourg’s pavilion, a building that resembles a broad ribbon.
The exhibitions are designed for all ages with outdoor experiences in playgrounds and green spaces.
There will be up to 60 live events each day with performances by an orchestra, an opera, other entertainment and workshops for children.
There will be food outlets with menus prepared by famous chefs and food trucks as well.
Daily music and dance performances by famous artists, acrobatics, fireworks, fashion shows, street art and light projections have been chalked up.
Celebrations on New Year’s Eve, the Indian festival Diwali, Chinese New Year and the national days of participating countries are planned.
Timings and bookings
A mobile app to help visitors plan their visit to the site will be launched this summer.
Expo 2020 will run from October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022, from 10am to midnight on weekdays and 10am to 2am on weekends and special days.
Tickets will go on sale from July 18 on the Expo website ticketing.expo2020dubai.com.
Previously purchased tickets cannot be used for the new dates this year. Organisers said all tickets were cancelled and refunded.
More than 2,500 travel groups, airlines and cruise companies are authorised to sell tickets.
The only hotel on the site is open for bookings with tariffs upwards of Dh1,000 ($272) a night inclusive of Expo tickets for the duration of stay. Other places to stay are a 15-minute drive away.
The Expo is working with tour operators to include the event on the itinerary of tourists planning a holiday in the Emirates.
Stopover packages have been drawn up for passengers in transit.
An Expo enthusiasts’ journey has been prepared for visitors keen to spend three to five days on site.
Expo packages will include air tickets and tour operators will bundle them with a hotel stay, transport and an Expo ticket.
How to get there
Metro’s Route 2020 will take you directly to the Expo 2020 Metro Station, on the doorstep of the World Fair.
The three main entrances are a 20-minute drive from Dubai Marina.
The Expo Rider is a free public bus service dedicated to Expo 2020. The bus will be available frequently from a range of locations in Dubai and other emirates.
Remember where it drops you off at the Expo site because the return trip must be taken from the same gate.
Visitors can take a cab on the street or book one using the Careem or Uber apps.
Dubai Taxi Corporation has a limited number of taxis with wheelchair access. Call 800 88088 to book ahead.
Free parking is available at the site from 8.30am to 1am Saturday to Wednesday and 8.30am to 3pm Thursday to Friday and on special days.
Follow signs to the Expo 2020 site from the major roads to any one of four designated parking zones.
Take the E77 Expo Road for the Opportunity parking zone and the E77 Expo Road or D54 Zayed bin Hamdan al Nahyan for the Sustainability parking zone.
The E311 Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Road for Mobility parking.
And the E311 Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Road for the Dubai Exhibition Centre.
Valet parking will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
If you do not remember where you have parked, scan the QR codes located at the end of each parking row to reach your car or ask staff for help in parking zones. Shuttles will be available frequently from all car parks.
Buses will be regularly available across the main Expo locations and will be accessible for families with strollers and disabled people.
A limited number of golf buggies will be available that can seat an entire family. Some are wheelchair accessible.
A sightseeing tour on the Expo explorer train is accessible for wheelchair users.
Any special discounts for people with disabilities, students and groups?
Disabled people in the UAE are referred to as people of determination. Tickets will be free of charge for them and a 50 per cent discount given for one companion.
All visitors, including people with disabilities, must get a ticket online.
Visitors can contact the Expo centre on 800 EXPO  for details.
Do I need to pay for anything else on site?
Visitors can buy food, drink and souvenirs.
Products from fragrances to stationery will be on sale, made from locally sourced material by artisans who live and work in the UAE.
Souvenirs can be bought, from collectables, rare gold and silver Expo 2020 Dubai medallions, to coins and toys featuring the World Fair mascots.
Food stations, trucks and restaurants will serve a variety of local and international fare, from locally made date bars and specially crafted coffee to fusion cuisine.
How much time should I set aside?
It could take 20 to 30 minutes to walk through each pavilion. There will be activities and food stalls so visitors should set aside at least a day to explore the area. Organisers have planned dozens of programmes daily aiming to attract people on repeat visits.
Will it be a guided tour?
Guides will not be required but volunteers will be present to answer any questions.
Is the site accessible for disabled people?
Yes. Organisers have made sure of this.
People with disabilities are advised to carry an identity card. This can be any relevant national identity card for people with special needs such as a Sanad card, social security benefits letter, DLA, EU, or ADA disability card.
An app called PODium will be available before Expo opens so disabled people can quickly find accessible services in each pavilion.
There are accessible toilets throughout the site.
Manual and electric wheelchairs will be available on hire on a first-come, first-served basis from information centres located near the main gates and throughout the site.
Wheelchair charging stations will be available at visitor centres located below the escalators. Service counters, ATMs, drinking fountains and vending machines are at accessible heights.
Visitors will be asked to go through a security screening that contains a metal detector. Those using a medical device are advised not to go through the metal detector, but to instead inform security who will advise alternative screening.
Guide dogs are welcome. Dogs must be on a leash or harness that identifies them as service dogs. Visitors need up-to-date travel documents to reflect that the dog is there for assistance.
Seven first aid centres will be staffed seven days a week with medical personnel qualified to provide emergency care.
Medicines requiring refrigeration can be left at a first aid centre. Other medical equipment cannot be held by Expo 2020 staff. Special products must be packed, sealed and clearly labelled with the name of the person. These must be collected by the end of the day. Items left behind will be disposed of.
If a child is separated from the family, the young one will be escorted to the nearest information centre. Staff at any information kiosk can be reached for help.
Expo 2020 Dubai app
The mobile application will launch in September a month before the site opens..
This will give visitors up-to-date information about all experiences on site.
The app can also be downloaded from Google Play or Apple on the launch day.
A schedule of events, from parades to dining options, can be created by users.
The GPS-enabled app will be a interactive and provide detailed directions across areas of the site.
Are Covid-19 safety measures in place?
Organisers said residents and tourists will be encouraged to get vaccinated but this would not be mandatory and testing will be in place for visitors on site.
The entire Expo 2020 workforce will be inoculated.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, the Crown Prince of Dubai, earlier announced a Covid-19 vaccine would be offered to foreign pavilion staff.
Thermal cameras at arrival points will check visitors’ temperatures. People must wear face masks at all times. Social distancing norms of at least two metres between people must be maintained.
Staff will monitor and ensure safety protocols are observed. Venues will be regularly sanitised. Hand sanitiser stations are positioned at regular intervals. Floor markings will show appropriate distance to keep in a queue, when viewing exhibits, and in parks and recreational areas.
In dining areas, tables will be spaced out.
Visitors are asked not to visit the Expo 2020 site if suffering from health symptoms related to Covid-19, if they have been in close contact with a person who has tested positive or is in quarantine.
What if I have more questions?
Please call the Expo contact centre for additional information on (+971) 800 3976 (800EXPO).