The demand for UAE visas is at an all-time high and tickets are currently selling at the cost of an arm and a leg. While the country is a popular destination for Pakistanis all year round, this hike in prices is due to the newest edition of the World Expo, the Dubai Expo 2020, which is taking place from October 2021 to end of March 2022.
World fairs are usually grand affairs; a chance for nations to come together and share the best technological and cultural advances they have to offer. Historically, World Expos have brought fame and fortune to the host nations. However, in recent years, Expo festivals have lost their hold over the public due to several reasons, with the major one being the lightning strike by the Covid-19 virus which has upended the world in no small measure. It will be interesting to see how the Dubai Expo 2020 will change things around.
The 2020 Expo stands out for a multitude of reasons. For the UAE, Expo 2020 holds special significance as Dubai is the first ever city to host a World Expo in the Middle East, making it not only unique but also offering a long-term opportunity for investment in the future of the country. Moreover, this is the biggest organized event in the world ever since the beginning of the Pandemic. It is indeed a ray of hope for the world because it lays the foundation for understanding how other countries can safely go back to holding events of this magnitude, while ensuring health and safety standards.
The UAE government left no stone unturned when it came to the preparation for the Expo, even before the Pandemic presented a dearth of new obstacles, and the world seemed to hold its breath. The UAE must be lauded for the efficiency with which the government controlled the spread of Covid-19 virus. Their dedicated efforts have placed UAE among the top five nations in vaccine distribution rate, as of date almost 90 per cent of its population has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
The UAE is known for its lavish malls and plazas, a place for the wealthy to spend to their heart’s content. The Expo is a goldmine for the country to cash on the influx of tourists that will inevitably flock to the financial capital. The UAE government has forecast that more than $17.7 billion will come into the country’s coffers if Expo 2020 Dubai is a success, with each Emirate in the UAE posed to become a major destination for economic growth.
Will the country be able to sustain these projected numbers beyond the immediate end of the six-month-long event? Over 80% of the site of the Expo, spread over 1083 acres is going to be reused for commercial activities once the Expo ends in March. Hotels are set to recover their pre-Pandemic capacity and, according to government experts, people are comfortable attending social events again. In August 2021, the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) reported that the number of passengers travelling to the country more than doubled, compared to the previous year. A total number of 2.5 million passengers were recorded in the country.
With 192 countries participating in the Expo, the theme this time around is Connecting Minds, Creating the Future, with a focus on sustainable living and development. The Expo is proving to be a breath of fresh air for visitors who are greeted by interactive robots telling them where to go or to put their masks on, pavilions featuring marvels such as AI-produced poetry, and historic artefacts such as Thomas Jefferson’s copy of the Qur’an. The Expo is geared to people of all ages which is an added attraction.
The Pakistan Pavilion is an especially fascinating part of the Expo; the theme is Pakistan: The Hidden Treasures. The colourful façade of the pavilion, designed by Rashid Rana, reflects the diversity within the country. The interior of the pavilion provides a glimpse into a country with a rich, vibrant past. This is a chance for Pakistan to show the world that there is more to it than meets the eye.
The writer is a sub-editor, Bol News.