Expo Dubai 2020: What to expect?

Expo 2020 Dubai is back

Have you heard? Expo 2020 Dubai is back and will be held from October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022. 

As the highly anticipated event approaches, now is the time to begin thinking about what to expect from one of the most significant events to ever be held in the Middle East, Africa or South-East Asia. To help you prepare, we've put together a brief guide to both the Expo and Dubai itself.


expo 2021 Dubai

What is there to see in Dubai? 

While you’re in town for the Expo, make sure you see the best of what Dubai has to offer. You can’t miss these sites in Dubai:


  • Burj Khalifa: the observation deck from the world’s tallest building will give you a stunning view of the city.
  • Ski Dubai: this indoor ski slope is a great activity for families and adventure seekers who want to try everything in the city.
  • Global Village: this worldly experience is perfect for all ages and offers the opportunity to experience some of the best shopping and dining from around the world.
  • Kite Beach: Dubai truly has it all: with a number of activities like surfing and volleyball, you can’t miss a day on this beach.


Expo 2020 Dubai

What’s a world expo?

We’ve mentioned the Dubai 2020 Expo before, but world expos are large international exhibits that aim to highlight countries' achievements and connect people from across the world. They also place a particular emphasis on celebrating ideas, inventions and projects, along with cultural exchange. The first Expo, held in London in 1851, entertained six million visitors, including Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, and George Eliot. Along with London, 32 other cities have been home to such expos, including New York, Barcelona, Seville, San Francisco, Shanghai, and most recently, Milan. 

But what has come out of World's Fairs, or Expos, as they are called now? Among many things, these global events have seen the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Ferris Wheel, the iconic Space Needle in Seattle and IMAX Cinema. Americans even believe that the ice cream cone originated out of the 1904 World's Fair in Saint Louis when a Syrian concession vendor cooled one of his confections, shaped it into a cone and scooped ice cream inside.


Dubai 2020 Expo 

The Dubai 2020 Expo will be held in the new Dubai South development, near the brand-new Al Maktoum International Airport that is poised to become the world’s largest airport. Dubai South is home to the Dubai World Central Free Zone (DWC), which offers you the chance to take advantage of one of the over three-dozen Free Zones in the UAE.  

As the first worldwide Expo ever held in the region, there will be more than 200 participants that represent 190 nations with a theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’. Pavilions are divided under the three sub themes of Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability; you will be able to learn about sea conversation at Norway’s pavilion, discover digital advances at Estonia’s, and head to Djibouti’s to learn about the up and coming trade nation. In addition to individual country pavilions, each sub theme has its own pavilion, which will present solutions to the problems countries across the world are facing.

The grounds also boast three outdoor areas, Al Wasl Plaza, Jubilee Park and Al Forsan Park, that can accommodate thousands of people; Dubai Exhibition Centre has also undergone expansion for the event and its 45,000 square metre facility will bring the best in innovation, design and technology together to make it an ideal setting to host events.

To create some of the breathtaking installations onsite, some of the world’s most highly-renowned architects were brought on to design some of the site’s most stunning buildings: Norman Foster’s Foster + Partners for the Mobility Pavilion (which we’ve included in the picture above), Santiago Calatrava for the UAE Pavilion, Grimshaw Architects for Terra-The Sustainability Pavilion and Cox Architecture for the Opportunity Pavilion.

dubai world expo 2020 dates

Business Opportunities

As a unique event, the Dubai 2020 Expo provides a number of incomparable business opportunities for guests. It is the ideal place to attract new investments, create new agreements, and make international connections. The networking and business opportunities are not just due to the international population that will be in attendance; Dubai’s rising market is the ideal place for any business venture. 

You can even start making connections before the Expo opens. The business event calendar, when launched, will detail all the conferences and forums throughout the Expo, allowing you to plan ahead. Register here to know when the calendar is released. Another way to connect with new opportunities is through our Business Matchmaking app, which serves to help you connect with the right people. Click here to be the first to know once the app is launched. 


What are the themes of Expo 2020 Dubai? 

Apart from its main theme of Connecting Minds, Creating the Future, the Expo has three sub themes separated into districts: opportunity, mobility, sustainability. Below you will find some examples of what you can expect from each district.

Opportunity District

Using the seemingly small actions of just three women, the Opportunity Pavilion shows that even little things can have huge impacts on individual communities and the world as a whole. The Opportunity Pavilion was designed to be a place where everyone, regardless of age, nationality, language, or culture can come together and share common experiences and make a change. 

Mobility District

The Mobility Pavilion walks you through technology throughout the years, but it doesn’t stop there. This district aims to portray the endless possibilities that the future holds and ways to use mobility to continue connecting the world through common understandings, despite cultural differences. With sample futuristic cities that are connected through artificial intelligence and robotics, you’ll see that the opportunities are endless. Country-specific pavilions such as Korea, Ireland and Thailand showcase each country’s dedication to this mission.  

Sustainability District

With no Planet B, the Sustainability Pavilion is focused on changing the path we are on right now. The district provides information about the harm climate change is having on our planet and how we can combat it, from solar energy to the smart use of water. Here, you’ll find innovative solutions to our climate problems that tackle the very issues that matter most. Head to Brazil’s pavilion to learn about the challenges the Amazon is facing or the Singapore Pavilion to see the urban innovations that incorporate vertical greenery and city-focused solutions.  

dubai world expo

UAE Pavilion      

Apart from the individual country pavilions and those that go along with the sub themes of the Expo, the UAE Pavilion is sure to stand out during the six-month long event. Designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, the pavilion that resembles a falcon in flight seeks to demonstrate the ambitious yet attainable goals of peace and a progessive society. 


How will Dubai change after hosting Expo 2020? 

As one of the sub themes of the Expo, sustainability is not only important to the Expo, but also to Dubai and the UAE. Because of this, the UAE is committed to using at least 80% of the Expo installations as part of a new business district that will ensure that the things built for the Expo will have a much longer life and positively impact Dubai. 

When it was originally planned pre-pandemic, the Expo was expected to accelerate growth in Dubai and stimulate the economy. Although it was pushed back a year, we hope the Expo will prove to be as beneficial for Dubai and attract visitors post-pandemic. The critical thing will be to see how this will all translate to sustained growth into the future. 

If you're looking to discover business opportunities in this area of Dubai during Expo 2020, or even during the legacy period, do not hesitate to contact our team. We would be delighted to guide you on what you need to do to host an event on the premises or work to set up a base in the Dubai South Free Zone.   


Written by
Adrian Oton
Adrian Oton

CEO, Europe Emirates Group  

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