Ten attractions to continue at Expo 2020 Dubai, from UAE pavilion to famous water illusion

Science centre, pavilions, exhibition zones will live on in the new 15-minute District 2020 community

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Well after the Expo ends, visitors can walk under the world’s largest projection dome, check their reflection in the massive mirrors of the Saudi pavilion’s window to the sky and run up the stone walls of an unusual water feature.

Several architectural marvels will be among the four-fifths of infrastructure to stay when the six-month event ends this month.

The site will become a 15-minute city, with attractions, offices, parks and homes within the two-square-kilometre site no further than a short stroll or bike ride away.

Expo organisers and architects told The National their ambition was for the space to inspire people.

The goal is to infuse a work-life balance in a vibrant community that will be known as a research and technology hub with exceptional educational and cultural landmarks.

“So right from the beginning and even as part of our brief, we defined what the legacy of this experience and building it would be and how it would inspire future generations,” said Marjan Faraidooni, chief experience officer at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Here is a snapshot of features that will remain when the Expo site becomes District 2020, Dubai’s newest residential and business zone.

Al Wasl centrepiece

The sand-coloured dome has been the Expo’s main staging area and the venue of unforgettable concerts by bands such as Coldplay.

The steel trellis structure will be a gathering space that will continue to serve as a distinctive platform for world class performances.t

Al Wasl Plaza, Expo’s centrepiece, is the historical name for Dubai and means “connection” in English.

Taller than the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the dome has been described as the “crown jewel” of Expo 2020 Dubai and was designed by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill.

The Rove is one of two hotels on the 438-hectare site. Overlooking Al Wasl Plaza, it will remain as a permanent offering.

Sustainability science pavilion

Post-Expo, the solar-panelled sustainability pavilion, Terra, will live on as a children's and science centre.

Net-zero for energy and water, the canopy will remain as an example of sustainable design.

Grimshaw Architects, the British firm that designed the pavilion, wanted it to make people think about water reduction and recycling strategies.

It will host workshops and temporary exhibition spaces to raise awareness about the environment and to inspire children to make changes in their everyday life.

Mobility pavilion

The glinting curved rims of Alif, the mobility pavilion, has attracted millions of curious visitors for a glimpse of cutting edge technology.

Foster + Partners built a flexible structure that will continue to address the theme of mobility after the Expo ends.

It will also house offices.

The polished stainless steel building that resembles a giant fidget spinner also features the world’s largest passenger lift, carrying more than 160 people at a time.

It will host temporary exhibitions on mobility to attract tourists and residents.

UAE’s falcon-theme pavilion

Several pavilions will stay as visitor attractions and cultural meeting places.

The UAE pavilion’s 'falcon taking flight' concept developed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava has been a favourite with world leaders and visitors often queuing up to enter the four-storey structure.

Exhibits dedicated to the history and future of the country chart the creation of a distinct national identity.

“The UAE pavilion will become an important cornerstone in our site and will have a legacy plan that will reflect our hopes and ambitions for the many years to come,said Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Co-operation and director general of Expo 2020 Dubai.

The nearby Vision pavilion will also remain that pays homage to the writings of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the UAE Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, based on his book My Story.

Saudi’s window on the world

The second-largest pavilion after the UAE has attracted major footfall with a gigantic LED mirror screen, interactive water feature and about 8,000 floor lights.

Covering an area of two soccer fields, the pavilion, which resembles a giant window opening to the sky, was designed as a legacy structure to remain long after the world’s fair ends.

The six-storey structure is among at least seven buildings at Expo that earned a platinum rating in a global green index.

It serves as a pilot to show how green energy savings can be achieved in Dubai and the rest of the region.

Gravity-defying water illusion

One of the biggest attractions of the Expo, drawing snaking queues on most weekends, will continue to draw crowds.

The Surreal water feature was created by WET, a Los Angeles-headquartered company that designed the fountains at Burj Khalifa and Bellagio in Las Vegas.

High-tech mechanics create an illusion that the water is racing upwards before the streams drop back down and disappear at the feet of spectators standing on the stone structure.

Fire and fog are released from the centre of the ring and set to a specially written score by Ramin Djawadi, the Game of Thrones music composer and two-time Emmy award winner.

Garden in the sky

A gently rotating observation tower soars 55 metres above the ground for a bird’s eye view of the site.

Visitors can catch sweeping panoramic views from a tree-lined upper deck that is linked to an air-conditioned lower cabin with tall glass windows.

The base of the tower and the observation cabins glow at night as visitors are lifted into the sky.

London designer Asif Khan is behind the observation deck and the towering carbon-fibre Expo gates.

Exhibition centre

Sited near the Dubai Metro Route 2020 station, within walking distance of the two hotels on the site, the centre has been used as a competition arena for the World Chess Championships and international trade events.

The venue is being positioned as ideal for conferences, concerts, exhibitions, award ceremonies and weddings.

An expansive 45,000 square metres of event space will be used by companies in logistics, tourism, education and technology as part of plans to deliver world-class facilities in a global innovation hub.

Recording studio

Musical legend AR Rahman has described hand-picking an all-women orchestra and building a studio as the “most exciting things in a decade”.

The Firdaus Studio, a collaboration between the Expo and the composer, will serve as a creative space in which artists from around the world can collaborate.

Rahman’s vision is for a world-class space where musicians and directors will converge to record film scores, albums and multimedia projects.

It will also be the home for the Firdaus Orchestra, the UAE’s female ensemble that fuses Arab and western styles.

Firdaus means “paradise” in Arabic and will be a special element of the Expo’s legacy as it aspires to attract musical and artistic talent.

Bike trails in 15-minute community

A healthy lifestyle will be the cornerstone of the new community with existing jogging and biking tracks extended once the Expo is over.

A four-kilometre zone will also be marked out for autonomous vehicles.

The 5km running path and 10km cycling track is part of a 45,000-square-metre space carved out for parks and greenery.

This will be a critical consideration for residents who move in when homes are handed over starting from January next year.

The pedestrian-friendly network will prioritise walking as central to life in the new district, which will include two hospitals, two mosques and a school.

Updated: March 02, 2022, 6:52 AM