Expo 2020 Dubai things to do: why these pavilions are the most popular at the world fair

From the world's largest digital mirror to a giant sculpture of the human brain, top country pavilions that stand out from the crowd

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On the final day of the world's fair, Expo 2020 Dubai appears set to coast past an impressive 23 million visits.

Crowds have soaked up the cultures, traditions and dreams for the future of countries great and small throughout the six-month-long mega event.

With 192 country pavilions on show, visitors have been spoilt for choice. But some nations have managed to stand out.

The National checked in with pavilion organisers to find out how many people they have welcomed since Expo opened in October last year, with the theme “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”.

A quick update on the numbers as the Expo draws to a close - the Saudi Arabia pavilion is reaching the 5 million visit mark and the Kuwait pavilion has crossed 3 million visits.

Germany, Brazil and Russia are among those that have shot past two million, with a busy final day ahead.

Other much-loved pavilions such as those of Japan and Singapore will share their numbers at the end of the world's fair.

So how have the most crowd-pleasing pavilions managed to keep people coming back for more:

Saudi Arabia’s gigantic window

A view of the Saudi Arabia pavilion at the World Fair in Dubai. Photo: Expo 2020 Dubai

The huge structure, shaped like an open window, has registered more than 4.8 million visits since Expo began in October.

The biggest draws are the world’s largest digital mirror screen, a waterfall that has visitors dart in and out and a stunning escalator ride that takes people on an immersive journey past Saudi Arabia's world heritage sites.

Located in the Opportunity District, the pavilion has an environmental certification grade of Platinum LEED.

Guests can take part in craft and sustainability workshops, watch folklore performances or enjoy cuisine at Sard Cafe, which has food, coffee and desserts from the kingdom’s 13 provinces.

Russia's dazzling dome

A massive sculpture of a brain is one of the main attractions of the Russia pavilion. Photo: Expo 2020 Dubai

The multicoloured metallic lights wrapped around a dome-like structure at the Russia pavilion have attracted crowds with numbers set to cross 2.5 million on the final day.

Inside, people snap photographs of a giant sculpture of the human brain that pulses and lights up to show the emotional and intelligence sections in neural networks.

Other crowd-pullers are large robotic arms that are part of a digital display on the power of technology

Brazil's cool pool

Families have fun in the Brazil pavilion during the last few weeks of Expo 2020 Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National

The Brazil pavilion has attracted more than 2 million visits and is popular with families.

Pools of ankle-deep water are a symbolic recreation of the Amazon basin and give people a chance to splash around – a welcome reprieve from soaring temperatures outside.

At night, visitors settle into numerous seats to watch the sights and sounds of the tropical rainforest beamed across the translucent membrane that makes up the pavilion’s outer structure.

China laser show

China pavilion. Photo: Expo 2020 Dubai

The China pavilion's numbers have gone past 1.6 million as visitors stream in to a structure modelled on a traditional Chinese lantern.

A light show and laser display every night, friendly robots, driverless cars and space technology displays are some of the biggest draws.

The pavilion was a hugely popular attraction during Chinese New Year celebrations in February.

The Year of the Tiger was welcomed in style as hundreds gathered at Expo 2020 Dubai to marvel at an array of colourful cultural performances and dazzling costume displays.

UAE falcon wings

Interior of the UAE pavilion. Photo: Expo 2020 Dubai

The largest pavilion on the Expo site, the UAE’s falcon-winged pavilion has passed one million visits.

Visitors bend to touch mounds of sand when they enter as captivating visuals are beamed across the mini dunes.

A short animation film, Dreaming Together, tells of the young country's journey.

Visitors are also drawn to the final message – success stories of artists, scientists and educators among Emiratis and residents told on digital screens under a sun-streaked steel roof embedded with Expo’s ring logo.

Swiss sea of red

Visitors outside the Switzerland pavilion. Photo: Expo 2020 Dubai

A sea of red umbrellas with a large white cross is reflected across a mirror facade of the Switzerland pavilion.

More than 1.6 million visits later, people are still queuing up to walk through a cloud of fog that symbolises hiking to the top of a Swiss mountain.

The view from the top is looking good for one of Expo's best-loved pavilions.

Spain and Thailand thrive

A digital forest installation inside the Spain pavilion has struck a chord with children. Victor Besa / The National

Spain’s distinctive orange and yellow cones at its pavilion have pulled in more than 1.5 million visitors.

The exhibition “Forest of Intelligence” has struck a chord with children. It recreates tall tree trunks made from a special bioplastic material that absorbs carbon dioxide. The space reproduces the scents of the forest and provides vivid examples of how pollution can kill green spaces.

The Thailand pavilion, too, has hit 1.3 million visits.

Thousands of flowers cover the outer shell of the Thailand pavilion as regular dance and cultural shows entertain visitors.

Models of gold and red dragon boats greet visitors, after which short films showcase trade and technology in the country.

India and US pass the million mark

Visitors try to follow the lead of yoga instructors inside the India pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. Khushnum Bhandari / The National

The India and US pavilions have registered more than a million visits each with people keen to see what the countries have on offer.

When night falls, the swivelling blocks of the India pavilion act as a movie screen on which the country’s heritage sites and colourful dance performances are displayed.

People try their best to copy challenging yoga postures demonstrated by instructors in a leafy zone on the ground floor. The pavilion reached more than a million visits last month.

At the US pavilion, the Moon rock is one of the biggest attractions.

Collected during the Apollo missions, the rock is about 3.75 billion years old.

A model of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the world’s first orbital-class reusable rocket, is another much-photographed attraction.

Nearing a million visits

Words picked by Expo visitors inside a choral chamber of the UK pavilion are beamed across the facade.  Pawan Singh / The National

The UK pavilion has moved past the million mark with more than 1.1 million visits.

Visitors walk into a chamber likened to the interior of a musical instrument and add a word to a collective message projected across the panels outside.

One of the greenest on site, the Netherlands pavilion grows thousands of plants and herbs on a towering cone and even grows oyster mushrooms in a darkened nursery inside.

There have been more than 950,000 visits to the space that has been built using rented material such as steel sheets, tubes and pipes from Dubai’s construction industry.

The fun slide inside the Luxembourg pavilion is a top reason for its more than 620,000 visits.

Made from stainless steel and Plexiglas, the slide zips down three storeys into an atrium with trees and plants to represent the country’s forests.

Updated: March 31, 2022, 9:54 AM
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