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Deep in the heart of Jubilee Park, Jayakrishnan Mullasseerich has finally found himself.
He traces a finger along the carved letters of his name with a satisfied smile, then pulls out his phone to record the moment.
Jayakrishnan is one of more than 200,000 workers from all over the world whose contribution to Dubai Expo 2020 is permanently marked on a row of stone columns next to the Jubilee Park arena.
The monument is the work of renowned architect Asif Khan, who also designed the Expo portals, as well as the Mobility Pavilion.
Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Co-operation and Director General of Expo 2020 Dubai, said of the workers: “Each of them deserves our sincere thanks and appreciation for their tremendous efforts.”
During the early days of Expo, a steady stream of workers have been making their way to the monument to seek out their names.
Jayakrishnan, from Kerala, worked on Expo for two years. Seeing his name in stone is “very good”, he says.
Next he seeks out the carved letters of a friend who cannot be there, on another pillar.
He will send a photo of it to the friend, and another photo back home to his family in India.
“They are very proud,” he says.
A dedicated workforce has been key to turning grand plans for Expo 2020 Dubai into a reality – from helping to construct the site to staffing its many attractions during its six-month run.
The world fair opened its doors to the public on Friday – following a stunning opening ceremony the previous evening – in a milestone day that was years in the making.
Millions of visitors are expected to flock to the vast site in the months ahead, taking in more than 190 pavilions and dozens of live shows each day.
They will marvel at sights which have been brought to fruition by the endeavours of those who have worked on building the expo from the ground up since 2015.
Expo 2020 has also developed the Workers’ Portrait Series, which includes images of its workforce, accompanied by their own quotes.
The pictures will be displayed on digital screens in the Public Realm, where they will be seen by visitors from around the world. A selection will also be exhibited at the Expo Media Centre Gallery during the event.