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BW Businessworld

Expo 2020: The World’s Greatest Show

BW Businessworld spoke to Sanjive Khosla, CCO, Expo 2020 and Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai Tourism to get an idea of what visitors can expect at the Expo.

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From October 2020 to April 2021, Dubai is the place to be. Expo 2020 to be held in Dubai, will showcase the best the world has to offer in terms of innovation, creativity, arts and design. 

BW Businessworld spoke to Sanjive Khosla, CCO, Expo 2020 and Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai Tourism to get an idea of what visitors can expect at the Expo.

Khosla told us that 192 countries have confirmed participation so far- every country will have its own pavilion. The showcase at each pavilion will be an integration of design and experience, with a focus on the best the country has to offer. For instance, the UK pavilion designed by architect Es Develin is inspired by Stephen Hawking’s vision about how humanity could express itself to an extra-terrestrial civilisation. The German pavilion he stated, would be based on a green campus theme highlighting the fact that education will be delivered in the future in a sustainable manner. The Brazillian pavilion will have a minimalist design, which will recreate the Amazon basin. This pavilion will have a water feature that visitors can walk through (or around) as they take in the sights, sounds and scents of Brazil’s riverside areas. 

The visitors will get to enjoy a different set of programming every day for six months- from talks to performances by internationally renowned artists. 

“The expo is expecting close to 25 million visits. It begins at a peak period for us and will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the UAE. A huge moment for us! We saw roughly 16 million visitors last year, which placed us at number 4 in terms of the most visited cities globally. We always make sure we are innovating and have something new to offer visitor every time they visit Dubai.”-Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai Tourism

Khosla stressed on the fact that ‘The World’s Greatest Show’ will provide immersive experiences, which people from across the globe will not want to miss out on. Of course, there is heavy push on marketing, with ‘digital’ being an important vehicle for engagement. Earlier this year, a promotional video featuring the Expo’s global ambassador Lionel Messi was released to further their message of ‘collaboration and unity’. 

Khosla reminded us that the Argentine forward was chosen not just for his global appeal but also his commitment to human development as a United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) advocate.

With the theme, ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ the key focus for the Expo is on sustainability, mobility and opportunity. Once the event is over, the area will be transformed into a mixed-use business district – ‘District 2020’ said Khosla. 

A 2019 EY report stated that Expo 2020 is expected to contribute AED122.6 billion to the UAE’s economy from 2013–31. Further, it also expected to support up to 905,200 job-years during the same timeframe. 

Quick Facts: 

  • The World Expo is one of the world’s oldest and largest international events, taking place every five years and lasting six months. 
  • The first World Expo was London’s Great Exhibition of 1851.
  • Buildings and products first revealed at World Expos include the Eiffel Tower, the Seattle Space Needle, the typewriter, the television and even Heinz Tomato Ketchup.
  • Expo 2020 Dubai is the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, and the largest event ever held in the Arab world.
  • Expo 2020 expects to attract more visits than the combined number of tickets sold for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, the London 2012 Summer Olympics, the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil and the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics
  • Expo 2020 will host 60-plus live events per day for 173 consecutive days
  • More than 200 participants will take part in Expo 2020 Dubai, including nations, multilateral organisations, businesses and educational institutions


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