A futuristic city representing all the world’s nations that’s designed to attract more than 25 million visitors is soon to be unveiled to the world.
Dubai is pressing ahead with its plans to host the 2020 World Expo in October, after it was postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis last year.
Dubbed as the “world’s greatest show” and expected to be the largest world’s fair in history, Expo 2020 will showcase achievements, ideas and innovations from around the world over six months in a new district built between Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
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An Australian pavilion is being quietly unveiled at the expo site in anticipation of the October 1 launch.
The pavilion has been designed to show off Australia’s “diversity, ingenuity and contribution through 60,000 years of innovation” – but with international travel still almost non-existent, entry to the United Arab Emirates restricted, and Australians still unable to leave our own country, there’s no telling who will actually get to see it.
INSIDE DISTRICT 2020
Some 25 million people were expected to visit Dubai over six months for Expo 2020, the first expo to be held in an Arab nation and – as was the expectation before the pandemic – the biggest in history.
It is set to be held in District 2020, a purpose-built hub of innovation and technological achievement about 40 minutes from Dubai. After the expo wraps up in March, the district will eventually become Dubai South, a smart, sustainable city – home to around one million residents and 400,000 job opportunities.
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During the expo, District 2020 promises to be packed with innovative and immersive experiences, futuristic thinking and problem solving, and Dubai’s trademark razzle dazzle. The expo site itself is about the size of 400 cricket pitches, and the main dome at the centre of the space, Al Wasl Plaza, will be big enough to park to A380 jumbo jets in the dome.
The United Arab Nations has invested $10.1 billion into the mega event since it was announced as host in 2013.
Australia was among the 192 countries that had confirmed participation in the expo. The concept was for each country to be set up under one of three themes – Sustainability, Mobility or Opportunity – and use that theme to highlight its achievements.
Also known as world’s fairs, world expos are typically held every five years in a new host city. Past events have seen the introduction of colour television, X-ray machines, the ice-cream cone and the first ever ferris wheel, while iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Melbourne’s Carlton Gardens are legacies of world’s fairs held in the 19th century.
AUSTRALIA’S APPEARANCE IN DUBAI
Australia’s pavilion in Expo 2020, called “Blue Sky Dreaming”, explores the topic of mobility and provides an immersive experience tracking 60,000 years of Australian innovation.
Designed by Brisbane architectural firm bureau^proberts, the pavilion features a dramatic roof inspired by a cumulus cloud, Australian-made composite laminate timbers throughout, and Australian smart water-saving technologies that provide real-time tracking of water usage in the building.
It promises to share with visitors the story of Australia’s diversity, “taking them on a journey of Australia’s ingenuity and innovation through thousands of years – linking ancient Indigenous know-how to modern day discovery and invention”.
The Federal Government has not disclosed the price tag for its contribution, however New Zealand is believed to have spent $50.9 million to build its pavilion at the site.
Construction of the Blue Sky Dreaming pavilion wrapped up in January and it is expected to be launched when the expo opens on October 1.
But there is uncertainty around who will be able to see it. Before the pandemic, it was estimated that of the 25 million visitors expected to attend the expo, 70 per cent would come from outside the UAE.
Six months out from the event, the UAE is still allowing entry only to those who prove they have tested negative to COVID-19, and ongoing entry restrictions and quarantine arrangements in other countries have kept volumes of international air traffic low.
Australia’s international borders remain closed, with mixed projections on when or whether they will reopen this year.
However, Australia’s participation is still expected to be a win. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade estimates Australian companies have won around $150 million in contracts to supply goods and services at the expo, according to Traveller, and artists and arts companies will be exposed to a global audience.
The Government said the Australian pavilion would “present a distinctive Australian brand that maximises the appeal of Australia as a place to visit, study, invest and do business”.
“Australian business, industry and governments stand to benefit from this unique cross-collaboration opportunity,” it continued.
“There will be more than 190 countries participating in a single location. Each will bring their own business delegations and generate huge potential for connections with foreign citizens and governments and with global businesses, investors and industry leaders.”
In a statement to Traveller, a DFAT spokeswoman said Australia’s participation would also help support recovery efforts in sectors impacted by last summer’s bushfires and COVID-19.