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Thousands of people explored the Opportunity District on Friday as one of Expo 2020 Dubai's biggest attractions opened its doors one week before the launch of the international event.
It was the second day that friends and family of Expo employees were given the chance to sample the carnival atmosphere of the global spectacle, which is expected to draw millions of visitors during its six-month-run.
The National joined the enthusiastic crowds for a first glimpse of the sprawling zone, the crown jewel of which is the Opportunity pavilion.
Branded 'Mission Possible – The Opportunity pavilion', the striking structure was designed by AGi Architects.
Young and old alike roamed the huge district, hopping from one country's pavilion to the next.
Families enjoyed the sights and experiences on offer, taking photographs and videos, and queuing up to enter pavilions.
The Opportunity pavilion focuses on how every person can be an agent of change in helping to reach sustainable development goals.
Education and entertainment go hand-in-hand as visitors walk through the pavilion and watch videos of game-changers from across the Emirates and the world.
Red bricks have been used in the structure of the pavilion representing the Earth while the seven-layered glass structure canopy that floats 32 metres above the ground and lights up by night represents the clouds as well as people’s dreams.
The Opportunity pavilion was conceived as a large plaza and a place for people to connect across age, language and culture.
A whole world of opportunity
Anoosha Almarzouqi, director of the Opportunity pavilion, said Expo 2020 Dubai provides a sizeable platform to deliver an important message.
"Our sub-theme of opportunity is about unlocking the potential of individuals and communities," she said.
“The exhibition has been divided into three parts: water, food and energy because these are the basic needs of human being. Without these we cannot reach opportunities.
"We wanted to find a way to bring sustainable development goals closer home to people.
“Our idea is that every person can make a change no matter how small that change is. When we do that change, we unlock opportunities for us and for our communities."
Parallel ‘tracks’ run through the pavilion, focusing on those themes of water, food and energy.
Visitors are helped on their journey of knowledge by guides at the world fair.
One of the team of guides, Mariam Al Juneibi, is a sustainable organic farmer who promotes sustainable farming and healthy eating practices, while also encouraging people to grow vegetables in the UAE.
Another is Fatma Juma Haji, a trainer who teaches other women to install solar panels, helping to create sustainable energy in Zanzibar.
Abel Cruz has helped to solve the problem of water shortages in Lima, Peru, by setting up nets that harvest fog and turn it into water.
Visitors can learn about the influence the three guides had on their communities.
Food from the UAE, Peru and Zanzibar will be sold at the opportunity pavilion.
Make a pledge for a better future
The final area in the pavilion is the Pledge Room, which delivers a sensory experience giving visitors the illusion that they are in the clouds while looking at Earth and they can make pledges to work towards sustainable development goals.
These pledges are then displayed in panels across the ceiling.
Go on an international tour
The Opportunity District houses a wide variety of country pavilions, including India, Indonesia, Guyana, Ghana, Cyprus, China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
At Saudi Arabia’s pavilion, visitors will be welcomed by the largest LED mirror screen display in the world, the largest interactive floor on the planet, featuring 8,000 LED lights, and the world's longest interactive water feature at more than 32 metres.
The Guyana pavilion celebrates the country’s fauna, flora, history and culture.
Chevon Lim, commissioner general at the Guyana pavilion, said their pavilion honoured the nation's past while also highlighting the opportunities and possibilities in the country.
"What we want to showcase is that we are a sustainable and a developing nation and we want to show the world how we are balancing the development while still maintaining our sustainability.
"We want to show the world that we can be roadmap especially with the discovery of oil and gas ... opportunities exist for doing so."
A United front
The United Nations has set up base at the Opportunity pavilion.
The UN is planning a series of events and activities that reflect the values of multilateralism and demonstrate the role of international co-operation and joint action to overcome global challenges, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and sustainability goals.
The countdown is on
The long wait will finally be over in one week's time when Expo 2020 Dubai – billed as the greatest show on Earth – gets under way.
The stunning Dubai South site will be home to 192 pavilions, will feature up to 60 live events each day and 200 food and beverage outlets to fuel visitors during a journey around the world in one place.
Visitors to Expo 2020 Dubai will be able to enjoy the entire first month of the global extravaganza for the price of a single day ticket.
Organisers have launched the October Pass, which will allow full access all attractions for 31 days.
The pass will cost only Dh95 ($25), the price of a standard day ticket during the six-month event.
The October pass promotion is available until October 15.
For more information, visit www.expo2020dubai.com