Dubai 2020: all you need to know about Expo… and beyond

Expo Dubai 2020 has officially opened. After 8 years of work, including the complete construction of a sector of the city, the capital of the Arab Emirates is ready to welcome the first Universal Exposition in the Arab world

Mobility Portal, Expo 2020 Dubai - Photo © Dany Eid, Expo 2020 Dubai
Mobility Portal, Expo 2020 Dubai - Photo © Dany Eid, Expo 2020 Dubai

Expo Dubai 2020: sustainability, mobility, opportunity

The key words of Expo Dubai 2020 are sustainability, mobility and opportunity, and the entire program of the Universal Exposition revolves around these concepts, until 31 March 2022. The title chosen by the organizers is “Connecting Minds and Creating the Future,” a sign of how this outstanding event can offer a collective showcase for creative talent from around the world, to put forward the most innovative ideas with the aim of formulating a sustainable response to urgent contemporary global issues.

In the run-up to Expo Dubai 2020, many hotels, showrooms, restaurants and locations have gotten a makeover or have been built from scratch to be ready for the international influx. Let’s take a look of the most interesting projects in terms of design, starting with the fulcrum of the Expo: the pavilions.

The most beautiful pavilions of Expo Dubai 2020

Each of the key words of Expo Dubai 2020 has its own pavilion. In the new Expo district of the Emirates capital, the Mobility Pavilion narrates the history of movement of people, goods and services, data and ideas, as well as social mobility. The pavilion will also include the world’s largest elevator, capable of taking over 160 passengers at a time.

Alif – The Mobility Pavilion

Mission Possible - The Opportunity Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai - Photo © Suneesh Sudhakaran, Expo 2020 Dubai

Mission Possible – The Opportunity Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai
Photo © Suneesh Sudhakaran, Expo 2020 Dubai

Next to the Mobility Pavilion stands the Opportunity Pavilion, focusing in turn on three key concepts: water, food and energy. Visitors will focus on the role of human actions in opportunities for the entire human race.

The Sustainability Pavilion, also known as “Terra,” concentrates on man’s relationship with nature, exploring how we can alter everyday choices to reduce environmental impact. The Sustainability Pavilion is powered by as many as 4912 solar panels on the canopy with a height of 130 meters, as well as 18 energy trees.

Terra - The Sustainability Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai - Photo © Suneesh Sudhakaran, Expo 2020 Dubai

Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai
Photo © Suneesh Sudhakaran, Expo 2020 Dubai

The other pavilions at Expo Dubai 2020

UAE Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai
UAE Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai - Photo © David Jimenez, Expo 2020 Dubai
New Zealand Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai - Photo © David Jimenez, Expo 2020 Dubai
Brazil Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai - Photo © David Jimenez, Expo 2020 Dubai
Singapore Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai - Photo © Suneesh Sudhakaran, Expo 2020 Dubai
China Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai - Photo © Dany Eid, Expo 2020 Dubai
United Kingdom Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai - Photo © Stuart Wilson, Expo 2020 Dubai
Russia Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai - Photo © Suneesh Sudhakaran, Expo 2020 Dubai
Japan Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai - Photo © Dany Eid, Expo 2020 Dubai
Slovenia Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai - Photo © Suneesh Sudhakaran, Expo 2020 Dubai
India Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai
UAE Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai
UAE Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai - Photo © David Jimenez, Expo 2020 Dubai
New Zealand Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai - Photo © David Jimenez, Expo 2020 Dubai
Brazil Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai - Photo © David Jimenez, Expo 2020 Dubai
Singapore Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai - Photo © Suneesh Sudhakaran, Expo 2020 Dubai
China Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai - Photo © Dany Eid, Expo 2020 Dubai
United Kingdom Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai - Photo © Stuart Wilson, Expo 2020 Dubai
Russia Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai - Photo © Suneesh Sudhakaran, Expo 2020 Dubai
Japan Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai - Photo © Dany Eid, Expo 2020 Dubai
Slovenia Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai - Photo © Suneesh Sudhakaran, Expo 2020 Dubai
India Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai
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Not just the three main pavilions. Expo Dubai 2020 is packed with avant-garde structures of refined design. Let’s start with the pavilion of the hosts, the United Arab Emirates. Designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, it takes its cue from a falcon in flight, narrating the history of the Emirates as a global hub, and its sustainable ambitions for the near future.

The tour continues with the New Zealand pavilion, a large garden that sets out to explain the ingenuity and technologies required for the reforestation of the planet. Followed by Brazil, which welcomes visitors with two reflecting pools with small boats and hammocks. Then there are the heavenly gardens of Singapore, the Bedouin tents of the Spanish pavilion, and the enormous structure of the Chinese pavilion, with its focus on renewable energies.

Special mention should be made, for architectural merits, of the pavilions of UK, Russia, Japan, Slovenia and India, with big LEDwalls that project traditional carpet patterns and Bollywood film posters. After the Universal Exposition, the Expo site will become a true smart city, known as District 2020, and over 80% of the buildings and attractions will remain on a permanent basis.

Italy Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai - Photo © Omar Marques, Expo 2020 Dubai

Italy Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai – Photo © Omar Marques, Expo 2020 Dubai

The Italian pavilion

Obviously the Italian pavilion at Expo Dubai 2020 can be seen as a case apart. Creativity and innovation are the key terms of this striking installation. Designed by Carlo Ratti, Italo Rota, Matteo Gatto and F&M Ingegneria (read the interview), the pavilion stages “the beauty that connects people, creating a space that is not just for display, but also represents the best of Italian ingenuity. The Italian pavilion has been made with the contribution of partner companies – large, medium and small – which have supplied the finest construction components, physical plant systems, technologies and settings, demonstrating the most innovative areas of expertise of our country, in terms of sustainability, circular economy and digital architecture.” Casa Italia is close to the pavilions of India, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Japan and the United States.

The new hotels in Dubai

The capital of the Emirates, as we have seen, has taken on a new look to host Expo, and hotels have become hotspots as displays of innovation on the part of the host country. Three new hotels have been built from scratch, significantly improving the range of luxurious offerings in the city.

The first, the Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, faces the waters of the Persian Gulf on one side, and the sparkling skyline of Dubai on the other. With its lush but elegant interiors and peerless levels of service, the resort should bring a new wave of luxury to the Emirate’s coast. It presents itself to guests as an elegant contemporary space, luminous and airy by day, intriguing by night, with romantic, sparking lighting effects. The hotel has 178 spacious rooms and 78 suites, plus a gorgeous glamour penthouse accessed by means of a private elevator and a panoramic terrace, a private fitness club and a dining room for up to 16 people.

Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai

Mandarin Oriental Jumeirha

The second hotel specially made for Dubai 2020 is the Royal Atlantis. First-class services, ultramodern rooms and suites, one of the best panoramic views of the city and culinary delights make this hotel a perfect destination for an ultra-luxurious stay. The Royal Atlantis has as many as 90 swimming pools (many paired with private lodgings), including an elegant infinity pool located 96 meters over the Palm, with a spa and an avant-garde fitness center. The resort also offers four large aquariums, including one of the biggest jellyfish tanks in the world, containing a total of 2000 specimens.

The structure has been designed by the most important architects, designers and artists in the world, and has a very particular form: two buildings connected by an arch, crossed by a connection bridge and topped by a beautiful pool. The rooms and apartments of the hotel are organized as a series of modular blocks designed for interiors with different materials, featuring personalized temperature and lighting for every guest.

Opening precisely on the eve of Expo Dubai 2020, the St Regis Dubai-The Palm offers 264 rooms, including king-size, double, family or deluxe accommodations. There are also 25 Metropolitan and Astor suites, as well as the coveted presidential suite with an area of 248 square meters. The interiors are a blend of modern glamour and local influences that also capture elegance, with a large flight of steps in the hall, designed in tune with the image of the hall of the first St Regis in New York, built in 1904.

Mimi Kakushi restaurant, Dubai

Mimi Kakushi restaurant, Dubai

Restaurants in Dubai for Expo 2020

After the hotels in the Emirates capital opened for Dubai 2020, we should also look at the restaurants – not just locations for food, but veritable wonders of design.

Mimi Kakushi, for example, inside the Restaurant Village of the Four Seasons Resort Dubai of Jumeirah Beach, is entirely in wood, with period paintings and splashes of greenery in an almost domestic atmosphere; the jazz in the background matches the nostalgic tone to create a unique setting. The kitchen, of course, is open to view.

ZETA Seventy Seven is the ideal place for people who want to be amazed by the food. On the roof of the Address Beach Resort, at 310 meters above sea level, the venue offers visitors a breathtaking view of the city skyline, serving up various seafood menus, either for light poolside snacks with poke bowls, sandwiches and burgers, or for à la carte repasts with exclusive delights, like miso lobster, chilled oysters and crispy shrimp.

Just Vegan Jumeirah is the perfect place for those in search of private dining during Dubai 2020. The theme is a return to nature, a clear message from the threshold onward, featuring exclusive cuisine and colorful, precious decorations.

The events of Expo 2020

There are many things to do at Expo 2020, in a program that provides about 60 live events every day. Visitors can see concerts, stand-up comedy, fashion shows, dance performances, fireworks and much more. Many of the events happen at Wasl Plaza, the heart of Expo Dubai, which hosted the inauguration ceremony and will be the site of the final event, as well as many other daily entertainments. Based on the logo of Expo Dubai 2020, the plaza is topped by a dome and features the world’s largest 360-degree projection screen.

Al Wasl, Expo 2020 Dubai - Photo © Dany Eid, Expo 2020 Dubai

Al Wasl, Expo 2020 Dubai – Photo © Dany Eid, Expo 2020 Dubai

Plaza of Expo 2020 Dubai - Photo © Dany Eid, Expo 2020 Dubai

Plaza of Expo 2020 Dubai – Photo © Dany Eid, Expo 2020 Dubai

Not just Expo

Dubai, of course, is not just Expo. The capital of the Emirates attracts visitors with many of the world’s most famous landmarks. Just consider, for example, the Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab, the Mall of the Emirates, the Dubai Mall and the Atlantis the Palm.

Among the new developments opened precisely for the Expo, Ain Dubai, the world’s highest observation wheel, is joined by the Museum of the Future, one of the most beautiful museums on earth, with a focus on innovation, which is also a central priority of the Universal Exposition of Dubai 2020.

Ain Dubai, Bluewaters Island

Ain Dubai, Bluewaters Island