With one year to go until Expo 2020 hits the Dubai desert, What’s On looks ahead to the biggest event the UAE has ever seen…

It seems like only yesterday that Dubai celebrated the news it had been selected as the host city of Expo 2020. But an astonishing six years down the line (no, really – that was 2013), the final countdown is on to the arrival of the biggest event ever to land on our shores.

With a staggering 15 million visitors from more than 190 countries expected to descend upon event HQ over the course of 173 days, starting 12 months from now, preparations are now in their final stages. But when Expo opens its doors to the public on October 20, 2020, just what can visitors and residents expect?

What’s On goes behind the construction to count down its top five reasons to get very excited indeed…

5. Exploring the arts, questioning culture

Whether you’re an aficionado of expressionism or an imbecile when it comes to the impressionist movement, Expo’s artistic offerings promise to have you looking afresh at creativity and culture.

From traditional art to performances ranging from poetry to acrobatics, digital theatre to dance, there’s a form of expression for every interest. And while the full entertainment programme remains under wraps for now, we’ve also been told to expect appearances from global stars of comedy, music and literature.

For starters, Global superstar Mariah Carey is already set to perform a free concert in Dubai this month, to celebrate the one year until Expo 2020 mark.

4. Education, education, education

Mobility Pavilion

Encouraging a love of learning is at the heart of Expo’s planning, with academics, inventors and tech pioneers descending upon Dubai with a host of world-changing ideas to unpick. Discover how tech and gaming are merging to create new forms of exercise, find out how Czech scientists have learned to make water from air and sunlight, or beat the UAE to the red planet by going on a journey to Mars at the Mobility Pavilion.

Curious kids will find plenty on offer too, with everything from make-your-own robot workshops to lessons on 3D printing and its uses in medicine.

3. An eye for architecture

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll be aware that preparations for Expo have involved A LOT of construction – but don’t expect to see anything that could be classed as mere ordinary architecture here. Every participating country will be creating its own Pavilion space, designed to introduce its unique culture and heritage, while many nations will also seek to demonstrate the cutting-edge ideas currently shaping our constructed world.

UAE Pavilion

Watch out for the UAE Pavilion(pictured above), which will feature ground-breaking moving ‘wings’ to harness energy.

Al Wasl Plaza

Elsewhere, visitors will be able to look upon the world’s biggest 360-degree projection surface on Al Wasl Plaza’s(pictured above) steel dome, explore the all-natural Opportunity Pavilion, made from materials including 111km of rope, or wander in a host of open-air parks where huge amphitheatre spaces will sit beneath shaded canopies of Arabian ghaf trees, jasmine and palms. Don’t miss out on the chance to climb to the top of the rotating observation tower, where a specially created camera will help you create some spectacular Instagram moments.

Here are a few other jaw dropping pavilions:

Oman Pavilion

Czech Republic Pavilion

New Zealand Pavilion

2. Looking towards a responsible future

While the theme of Expo 2020 is ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, acountry pavilions will be ordered according to their choice of three subthemes – opportunity, mobility and sustainability.

Azerbaijan Pavilion

From Azerbaijan Pavilion’s leaf-shaped roof, designed to encourage visitors to explore their impact on our environmental future, to the swinging seats in the Germany Pavilion, aimed at questioning how we solve global challenges, everything from the entertainment to the architecture has been designed to contemplate the future of mankind.

Gnasher (in Terra – the Sustainability Pavilion)

We can’t wait to see the Sustainability Pavilion, where the madness of human consumption is explored via a giant, sharp-toothed machine named Gnasher.

1. Food, glorious food

Nothing brings different cultures together more easily than the breaking of bread and, with more than 200 outlets preparing to serve 300,000 meals a day from across 50 global cuisines, Expo 2020 promises to be a true feast for foodies, dishing up everything from sit-down restaurants to street food stalls.

It’s not all about mere taste though. Sustainability and wellness are at the heart of the food offering, with all participating outlets being asked to sign up to the event’s ethical Food Ethos. Meanwhile, from a food hall promoting local start-ups to seminars on the future of farming covering everything from robotics to augmented reality, it seems visitors can expect the contents of their plate to stimulate their mind as well as their taste buds…

Expo 2020 Dubai, Expo Road, Dubai South, Jebel Ali, Dubai, from Dhs120. October 20, 2020 to April 10, 2021, Tel: 800 EXPO. expo2020dubai.com

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Images: provided