Expo 2020 Dubai, the first world fair to be held in the Middle East, opened on 30 September with a lavish ceremony of fireworks, music and messaging. Drawing inspiration directly from Expo’s theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, ceremony took spectators on a journey across its subthemes of opportunity, mobility and sustainability.
Running from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022, organisers are aiming to stage the largest global gathering since the start of the pandemic. More than 190 countries are showcasing their cultures and innovations inside architecturally striking pavilions on the 438-hectare site. The Dubai government has spent an estimated USD7 billion on the event.
Over 53,000 visitors poured through the entrance gates of Expo 2020, which spans more than four square kilometres in Dubai South, on the opening day of the six-month event and organisers said they had welcomed more than 175 different nationalities in the first week. The figures exclude representatives, delegations and guests of international participants, as well as Expo staff.
“One in three visitors have come from abroad – which is a remarkable achievement,” said Sconaid McGeachin, senior vice president of communications. “Multi-day and season passes have proved popular with visitors and one in five people have already visited more than once, which is fantastic. As international routes open up in the next few months, we will welcome more visitors from around the world, but we are absolutely delighted with the figures so far.”
About three million people also logged on to the Virtual Expo platform to watch the opening ceremony of the world’s fair. A further five million visits were recorded on its virtual platform over the next 10 days.