Organisers and workers are in the final stretch of testing stunning structures for the World Fair that will begin in Dubai in a month.
After a year-long postponement, officials spoke of a buzz of anticipation about Expo 2020 Dubai’s promise to inject confidence, optimism and cheer in a world still reeling from the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday, the gates to the Expo site were filmed being opened to allow photo and camera crews inside.
Yousuf Caires, a senior vice president of Expo Live, described an upbeat mood.
“It’s a time of excitement for everybody, our site is visible and it’s alive,” he told The National.
"It’s almost 30 days for expo so the excitement level is high, the pitch is high, the expectation is high.
“We know how much the world is waiting for this, how much this country, our community here in UAE, is waiting. Everybody is expecting Expo to do something great and we are trying to give everyone a really great experience.”
Dozens of exhibits have been set up by countries across the 438-hectare Dubai South site and conferences have been planned through to March 2021.
Mr Caires said the aim was to impact lives beyond the six-month fair.
The Expo Live programme is the first in the history of the World Fair to award grants to organisations and individuals focused on finding solutions to worldwide issues.
Innovators from across the world will speak to visitors about path-breaking work in sectors including education, empowering women and farmers’ rights.
“The last year was extremely tough for start-ups across the world and we were very fortunate to be able to support some of them,” Mr Caires said.
“They will tell their story and inspire people. We hope to find a lot more change makers here at the Expo.”
Pavilion of Lights - France
At the Expo site, workers are racing to complete some structures, others are adding finishing touches to the interiors of pavilions.
Electrical, engineering, communications systems, fire and life safety tests are being carried out to ensure structures are safe for the thousands expected to visit daily when doors open on October 1.
Planners are also fine-tuning the programming that will be on offer.
Designers and engineers are finishing work on a dazzling light show and the interiors of the France pavilion, one of the standout structures that draws inspiration from famed artist Claude Monet.
Construction work on the France Pavilion was completed in April.
“We are currently finalising the interior scenography of the permanent exhibition. The journey will take the public on a stroll through the history of progress, a founding concept of the World Expos since the mid-19th century,” said Erik Linquier, commissioner general for France at Expo 2020 Dubai.
“As the ‘Pavilion of Lights,’ we are completing the light shows that will light up the pavilion and the World Expo.”
Organisers have a packed schedule designed to encourage visitors to stay after they watch stunning displays of waves of light bursting across an overhead canopy.
“We can’t wait to welcome the world to the France Pavilion,” Mr Linquier said.
“Expo 2020 Dubai is expected to be the biggest event of the year, and I believe that it will be a successful event as Expo 2020’s organisers have relentlessly worked on sanitary and security measures to ensure the visitors’ safety.”
The country will celebrate its National Day one day after the opening and has promised to showcase art, science and innovation.
“Our motto 'France, light, speed, inspiration' reflects our ambitious programme … to lead visitors along a path that highlights unique and daring French innovations and creations,” he said.
Luxembourg - team ready to move in
Luxembourg, the first country in June 2016 to officially confirm its participation with a national pavilion, said it was poised at the final mile.
“The last touch-ups are being made and our team moves into the office within the next days. Slowly but surely our pavilion is coming to life, and we cannot wait to open the doors very soon,” said Maggy Nagel, commissioner general of Luxembourg at Expo 2020 Dubai.
The contractor and project consultant have almost concluded their testing of the electrical, plumbing, fire safety and operational elements. The eye-catching structure holds a giant slide in the central hall and is filled with trees and plants.
Ms Nagel said hosting the World Fair had never been more crucial.
“Collaboration and coming together as one is considered more vital than ever before,” she said.
“We at the Luxembourg pavilion are fully aligned with the precautions taken by Expo 2020. In this spirit, we have implemented various precautionary measures across the area and within the building of the pavilion. We cannot wait to welcome the world to the Luxembourg pavilion.”
Italy to engage visitors online too
Paolo Glisenti, commissioner of the Italian pavilion, said staff would soon test multimedia installations, interior light and sound design as part of final fit-outs.
He said the effort would expand to engaging audiences online, so that people unable to make it to Expo 2020 Dubai would still be part of the excitement.
A 3D replica of Michelangelo's David is attracting attention as the striking centrepiece.
The life-size copy of the famous 16th-century marble statue has been placed under an unusual roof made from the hulls of boats and painted in the national colours.
“I believe Expo will set a new model for global events in the foreseeable future by creating the perfect mix between virtuality, connecting at distance and physical participation,” Mr Glisenti said.
“We have finalised our programme for the first three months of Expo leaving room for updating and adjusting the events to take place in the second quarter”.