We are now only two years away from Expo 2020 Dubai, but the countdown started back in November 2013 when the bid was won. Despite stiff competition from the likes of Izmir in Turkey, Sao Paolo in Brazil and Yekaterinburg in Russia, Dubai came out on top. I’m sure the celebrations were ecstatic in Paris at the Bureau International des Expositions where the announcement took place, but I doubt it could compare to the excitement of the incredible fireworks that marked the celebration at Burj Khalifa that night.
Fast forward almost five years and it was announced on 8 August 2018 that Emaar Hospitality Group has been selected as the official hotel and hospitality partner for the event. With a range of properties from luxury to contemporary midscale, the group offers diverse accommodation options across locations and price-points.
I’ve stayed at a few different Emaar Hospitality Group hotels over the years, from the luxury Address hotels to the cool, urban Rove Hotels and it is great to see a home-grown brand and hospitality proposition being recognised through the award of this prestigious status.
The group has announced that they will be offering Expo visitors “authentic experiences with a strong local flavour” at various locations across the Expo site, including the VIP clubs and lounges, as well as in its hotels and restaurants within Dubai.
At the moment, projected numbers suggest up to 25 million people will visit during the six months of the event, from October 20, 2020 to April 10, 2021, of which 70 percent will be from outside of the UAE. This is the largest international proportion in the 167-year history of World Expos and more than 130 countries have already announced that they’ll be participating.
A lot of the excitement is around the fact that Expo 2020 Dubai will mark the first time ever that a World Expo is being held in the Middle East. HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, has promised that Expo 2020 Dubai will “astonish the world”.
Dubai is on track to fulfil that promise and more. The Expo 2020 Dubai project has come along in leaps and bounds and the 438-hectare expo site in Dubai South, which is located close to Al Maktoum Airport, is taking shape at an incredible rate.
The theme of the Expo is “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” and three districts have been created to follow this ethos, under the themes of Mobility, Opportunity and Sustainability. Each structure is designed so that it’ll be able to continue functionally even after the six-month-long Expo wraps up in 2021.
The Sustainability Pavilion particularly captivates my interest. It will explore ways to harvest energy from sunlight and water in the humid air, when it opens.
Adjacent to the site will be the Expo Village, a residential community for delegates and other visiting officials. All the heavy construction on the site is due to be completed in just over a year, and I can’t wait to see what the site will look like.
Resident and visitors are expected to flock to Al Wasl Plaza, an entertainment hub that’s going to sit at the heart of the site. A year-round programme of events will be a magnet for everyone in the UAE, celebrating everything from national days to musical concerts.
Come 2020, I have no doubt Emaar Hospitality Group will be ready to say “Marhaba” to the whole world.
John S. Is a long-time Dubai resident and business/hospitality journalist.