If you're short on time, our two-day guide to the best of everything Expo 2020 Dubai has to offer covers the mega event's biggest highlights and must-see attractions
Expo 2020 Dubai's multi-sensory showcase has been enthralling visitors to the emirate since October 1, 2021. More than one million visits later, the 4.38-square-kilometre site in the Dubai South district is continuing to draw in the crowds. The event's success can be attributed to the 192 countries in attendance, showcasing the best of the best, from music and art to architecture, technology and culture, as well as the three thematic districts – Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability – which have been offering diverse cultural experiences, cuisines and more.
With so much to see and do, a single visit is not enough. But if you're short on time, our handy two-day guide will help you make the most of what's on offer. We’ve rounded up the best things to do at Expo 2020 Dubai, whether you're looking to immerse yourself in culture, experience live art or sample world-class cuisine at one of the site's many venues.
Upon arriving at Expo 2020 Dubai, the first sight to greet you is one of three entry portals, positioned at the entrance of each of the three thematic pavilions. The intricate latticework is reminiscent of mashrabiya architecture, a characteristic of Middle Eastern design. Its intriguing geometric configuration blends light, shadow and space, creating a surreal effect as the sunlight filters through – conveying that the world within the Expo gates is entirely different from the one outside. And it sets the tone for a memorable visit!
For your first stop, head to the host pavilion, which serves as an introduction to the UAE's storied past, present and future through a series of inspiring exhibits. The design of the UAE Pavilion is absolutely breathtaking and it references the local tradition of falconry. The dome of the pavilion comprises more than 25 feather-like panels each curving down toward the entry of the structure. When the panels are closed, the structure resembles a falcon at rest and when they open up to reveal the solar panels inside, it mimics the falcon taking flight.
From here, take a walk through the Al Wasl Dome, which is as mesmerising by day as it is at night, and head straight to Alif – The Mobility Pavilion, where you will embark on an engaging journey through time and space. The pavilion's futuristic façade appears to almost float on air from a distance, while its curved stainless steel exterior reflects activity from the surrounding areas. It was designed to evoke a sense of movement (fitting, given that the experiences inside bring stories of global mobility to life). Here, prepare to experience a record-breaking feat by riding on the world’s largest passenger lift, which can transport more than 160 people at a time.
Each day, at 12.45pm, Ghaf Avenue near Al Wasl Dome comes alive with a unique cultural fusion experience. The Colours of the World Parade is a vibrant celebration, featuring participants, performers and musicians from one of the many countries on site. Nations celebrating their National Days at Expo 2020 Dubai are featured in the parade.
While every country pavilion has something exciting to offer, a few stand out from the crowd. The Saudi Arabia pavilion reflects the kingdom's heritage, its present developments and vision for its future. Visitors are invited to journey through the kingdom's ambitions across four main pillars: people, nature, heritage and opportunities.
Other must-see pavilions include the 'edutainment' focused German pavilion, which shines a light on innovations and sustainable solutions for a healthier environment in future with a dose of fun.
Also offering an insight into the future – with a special focus on mobility – is the Republic of Korea pavilion. Through smart installations, it allows visitors to experience the cities of the future on a mobile-guided trail through the ramps that make up the dynamic architecture of the pavilion.
One of the many highlights at Expo 2020 Dubai is the stunning water feature – which is regarded by those who have experienced it as the star attraction of the site. It sees water falling from a great height and disappearing into the stone walls below. Be sure to visit again after sunset, when the water appears to flow upwards over the stone walls in a rainbow of hues.
Then just before sunset, head straight for the clouds with one of the most sought-after experiences at Expo 2020 Dubai to end day one on a high note. Garden in the Sky features an observation deck that rises 46 metres above the ground and gives you a 360-degree view of the Expo site.
Begin your second day at Expo 2020 Dubai with the site's greenest highlight, which is Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion. Housed within a 440-feet-wide steel canopy comprising over 1,000 solar panels, it is one of the most striking pieces of architecture at the Expo site and also one of the most advanced as it is capable of producing its own energy and water.
Inside the pavilion, visitors are taken on an immersive journey through Earth's forests and oceans across 64,000 square feet of exhibition space and galleries. These natural wonders are pitted against present-day planetary crises such as, consumerism and climate change. It is designed to inspire visitors to adopt habits that are sustainable to help preserve the planet's valuable resources.
Follow up this immersive experience with another inspiring one as you head for the Women's Pavilion in the Sustainability District. Here, you will have the chance to discover various roles that women have played throughout history and learn more about their positive contributions to make the world a better place.
Next, prepare to visit a true oasis in the desert at the Singapore Pavilion. While there is no shortage of eye-catching structures at Expo 2020 Dubai, the lush greenery of this country pavilion makes it stand out. It is designed as such – around three cones – to show that nature and architecture can coexist in harmony. Inside the structure, the three cones serve as thematic areas, under the shade of a hanging garden. The City Cone highlights rapid urbanisation and the threat it poses to the natural world; the Rainforest Cone recreates the thick jungles found in the country, while the Flower Cone brings to life a visual feast created by a myriad of orchids.
Other pavilions to visit on your second day at Expo 2020 Dubai include the Lebanon pavilion, which invites people to discover the vast potential that the country and its people have through immersive displays, before moving on to the Moroccan pavilion to enjoy an immersive experience through the medinas of the North African nation.
For your final attraction of the evening, head to Al Wasl Plaza for one of its three spectacular light shows, which plays on the dome’s 360-degree projection screen – the largest of its kind in the world. Ousha & The Moon is a 12-minute immersive experience that pays tribute to legendary Emirati poet Ousha bint Khalifa Al Suwaidi. Harmony sees Al Wasl Dome bathed in a soft, blue glow, giving audiences the feeling of being submerged underwater, while Mr. Scrap Returns is an epic 20-minute display of theatrics and song, presented against a beautiful backdrop of visuals of planet Earth.
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