We spent the day at Expo2020 and had a wonderful time trying to see the world in one day. This event was originally scheduled to start in October 2020 but was Covid-delayed. This expo is essentially a world’s fair with representatives from 188 countries putting together dedicated pavilions and exhibits showing off their country and commitment to the themes of the exposition.
We joke that this is Suaram’s second World’s Fair as she was in utero during the Shanghai version of the fair in May 2010. Tiffany was working in China at the time and had one day off. She planned to tour the city, but had read about an interesting UK pavilion so she checked that out instead.
So today was Tiffany’s second ‘accidental’ World Expo. We actually didn’t put this event (Dubai Expo2020) on the calendar for our visit here but were persuaded to check it out after seeing the promotions from Emirates Airlines and recognizing the potential for fun. Plus touring world pavilions seemed in keeping with our world travel adventures.
We began by visiting one of the primary exhibition pavilions focused on one of the 3 themes; Opportunity (Mobility and Sustainability are the others). We learned about a Peruvian’s effort to capture water from fog nets. Very interesting and an innovation unfamiliar to us thirsty Californians.
We miss the US so naturally we visited that pavilion. Plus it was focused primarily on space. We all had a chance to touch a rock from the moon – a specimen from a 1972 Apollo mission. It was on loan from NASA and is required to be in sight at all times by an authorized American watcher. Today’s eyes were managed by a nice 20 year old from the Bay Area.
On our way out of the American pavilion Brian had a ‘small world’ experience. He bumped into a Kenyan woman that he shared a row with on the flight from Nairobi earlier in the week. Really small odds with 50k+ Expo visitors/day in a city of over 2 million.
The kids got cute novelty passports which they carried around all day and got stamps from the country pavilions that we visited. Of the 188 countries we only picked up 7 stamps. I bet we would have gone again if we had a few more days here. CreeperKitty was intent on achieving more stamps but we ran out of time.
There were also lots of innovations around that CreeperPuppy especially was excited about. His only objective all day was to get a hug from one of the mascot robots (which he and Suaram finally did) and he was fascinated by the food delivery robots zooming around by themselves.
In the Egypt pavilion we saw a replica of a golden sarcophagus. In the Luxembourg pavilion we created digital art and went down a huge slide. In the American pavilion we saw Thomas Jefferson’s Koran (actually it was a Koran from the same 1764 print run but not his actual Koran). We even swung by the Thailand pavilion to say hello and sneak in a simulated tuk tuk ride.
We all danced and moved around to stimulate the 8,000 lights under our feet in the Saudi Arabian pavilion. The patterns kept changing and the effects of our movement changed them too.
The variety of architectural styles and designs of the pavilions was remarkable. There were also some ‘signature’ structures which were built especially for the exposition but will live well beyond Expo2020 (just like the Eiffel Tower and Space Needle from prior expositions).
One really impressive one the kids played in was the Expo Water Feature. It’s a bit difficult to describe so hopefully this video helps convey the size and feeling inside the half a football field space.
Every time water rushed down there was an accompanying blast of cool moist air. The water was disrupted by the pebbled surface so the kids were never really swept off their feet. The lights and music really added to the sense of the show.
The Expo grounds and crowd got really lively after the sun went down. We heard music coming from several of the pavilions and the lighting schemes for them were as interesting to see as the structures during the daylight.
The central Al Wasl Plaza had a circular stage and a dome. There was an incredible series of projectors creating images on the dome to enhance the action on stage.
We had a great time and got to ‘visit’ some countries we been to, some we’re going to and some we won’t get a chance to see in person. We logged a lot of standing, waiting and walking today (18k steps, holla!) so our feet are exhausted. We feel like we walked the world even though we barely scratched the surface.