Much like the recent neuroscience research that shows new neural pathways can be created and strengthened, Dubai is aiming to challenge how the world conceptualizes today’s problems and tomorrow’s solutions through new connections and disruptive pathways between ideas. Not siloed concepts, but rather scopes through which to contemplate Expo 2020’s overarching theme of “connecting minds, creating the future,” opportunity, mobility, and sustainability interplay to create the ultimate Expo experience. Connection between ideas, concepts, and people will be the way forward, and as the world’s greatest show begins to take shape, the linkages are clearer than ever.
Located on an area of 4.38sqkm in Dubai South, Expo 2020 will be a mere four-hour flight away for a staggering one-third of the world’s population. When the estimated 25 million visitors arrive, the pavilions are largely divided into three districts, each dedicated to one of the subthemes. But, despite the physical separation of these districts participating countries, companies, and visitors are blurring the lines. Take, for example, Morocco’s pavilion, which is located in the opportunity district but also presents Morocco’s commitment to a sustainable future. This show of force on the international stage—more than 190 countries committed to participating—comes as Morocco continues make significant economic strides and looks to crack the top 50 in the World Bank’s Doing Business report. For Saudi Arabia, Expo is a way to solidify and strengthen existing links between the Emirates and the Kingdom.
Another example is Cartier’s recently announced pavilion that relates to issues of sustainability as well as opportunity’s for women. The pavilion—the only one sponsored by a luxury brand—will feature events with prominent female leaders with the core idea being “Everyone must bring a stone to build a new future,” according to Cartier International President Cyrille Vigneron. The pavilion will showcase “the impact that women of all cultures have had a cross time, focusing on both known and lesser-known achievements,” adds Vigeron, as well as reflect the environmental principles integrated into the company’s strategy.
Through the lenses of mobility and opportunity, SAP, Expo’s Innovative Enterprise Software Partner, is working to ensure that all visitors can have the full Expo experience regardless of abilities. In an exclusive TBY interview, COO of SAP Middle East South, Sameer Areff mentioned SAP’s collaboration with a start-up to build app-based solutions for people with visual impairments and limited mobility.
Beyond individual pavilions, much of the Expo conversation centers around the post-event opportunities and plans for the infrastructure. Erik Linquier, Commissioner General of Cofrex, the entity responsible for France’s exposition participation, notes Expo 2020 is just one element of Dubai’s drive toward environmental sustainability. More than 80% of Expo structures will be transformed into a new mixed-use development, District 2020, within Dubai South. The intent is for this district to host a significant chunk of the businesses, from multinationals to entrepreneurs, lured in from Expo itself. Areff is certain the event will bring new ambitions to the Emirate as Dubai continues to establish itself as the city of the future. Moreover, the opportunities created by Expo for human talent development will also carry on to help Dubai build the future workforce to sustain a knowledge-based, digital economy. Many universities are counting on Expo to create new opportunities for students and increase the flows of students choosing Dubai for their education experiences. Students are already making their interest and influence on Expo known. Nine Expo pavilions, namely the Djibouti, Grenada, Malawi. Myanmar, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Zimbabwe pavilions, were designed by teams of students.
Just as the generation entering the workforce and offering new perspectives, Dubai aims to create a multifaceted prism, the facets being Opportunity, Mobility, and Sustainability, through which to advance the world.