British expats Katherine and Dave made sure that they were standing right under the Expo City Dubai's Al Wasl Dome at exactly 6.15pm on Saturday. "We are here to relive the Expo magic," they told Khaleej Times.
Right on the dot, the dome — the beating heart of what had been the world's greatest show — glowed back to life, treating visitors to a stunning show.
“The atmosphere is still alive here, and we are happy we can experience the spirit of Expo 2020 Dubai again,” Katherine said.
The couple was among the hundreds of visitors who flocked to the Expo City Dubai on day one of its official opening.
Exactly one year since Expo 2020 Dubai welcomed the world, the buzz is back at the legacy site: Kids and families are taking selfies again at the surreal Water Feature. The buggies, called Expo City Taxi, are pressed into service to show visitors around for free.
Those who availed of the Dh120 one-day Attractions Pass were able to enjoy all flagship pavilions. Currently, these include the Vision Pavilion, Women’s Pavilion, Terra (Sustainability) and Alif (Mobility). The pass will eventually include more attractions as they open.
Amir Hussain, who came along with his friends, was spellbound as Al Wasl Plaza sprang back to life in dazzling colours.
"It was the perfect show that highlighted the creative and optimistic spirit of this innovation-driven future city,” said Amir.
Dubai resident Ines Guemra — who had been to Expo 2020 several times —flew her mother to the emirate so she, too, could experience its wonders.
“My mother is here in Dubai for about two weeks, and we planned her trip so she wouldn't miss the Expo City opening,” said Guemera, a lecturer at a private university.
The mother-daughter duo was captivated by the Women’s Pavillion — a unique pavilion that celebrates women’s achievements and reaffirms a commitment to gender equality.
The Vision Pavilion was also a big hit among curious visitors. “The life of the Ruler of Dubai was so beautifully depicted at the Vision Pavilion,” said Asma Khaliq, who came with her partner Khaliq Ahmed.
“It was just mind-blowing as the pavilion celebrates the life and leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai),” said the couple who saw the place for the first time.
Here's a look at a popular corner inside the Vision Pavilion, reflecting Sheikh Mohammed's love for horses:
Expo employees happy to be back
Mohammed Noor Shah — an Afghani national who had been part of the World Expo since it began last year — happily took the driver seat again in his buggy.
“On the first day of the official opening of the Expo City, there were hundreds of people visiting from many countries of the world,” the buggy driver said.
“I happened to meet people from Spain, Brazil, Albania, Poland, South Korea, and the UK who had come to the Expo for the first time. They are quite amazed by the infrastructure and what the pavilions have to offer."
Around 50 Expo City Dubai staff and their families opened the Sustainability Entry Portal at 9am on Saturday, welcoming the public to the legacy site.
Besides the top attractions, many of the popular Expo food and beverage vendors have also reopened. These include the traditional Emirati Al Fanar Restaurant & Café, ECCO Pizza & Pasta, and the crowd-favourite Al Baik from Saudi Arabia.
Food trucks — including The Mattar Farm Express, B Café, Wofl, Tropicool, Daily Dose and Milky Ice Cream from Poland, and French cuisine from La Serre — will offer a range of quick bites, coffees, smoothies, and frozen treats. More outlets will be unveiled soon.
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