This week, the UAE welcomes country representatives from all over the world to discuss the final steps on the journey to Expo 2020 Dubai - a global opportunity to ensure an optimistic future for all.
Preparations for The World's Greatest Show, opening in less than 11 months, are in full swing and the fourth International Participants Meeting, the largest to date, will see almost 1,000 delegates from around the world set out their commitment to contributing to a huge collaborative effort to change our future for the better. Indeed,
Expo 2020 could not come at a more opportune moment.
At a time when an 'us versus them' mentality pervades some parts of our society, the next World Expo takes on renewed importance as a global convener.
As humanity faces a host of diverse issues - from climate change to conflict, economic woes to technological advances - it is clear that we cannot accept 'business as usual'.
But it is equally clear that human ingenuity knows no boundaries, and that by embracing global collaboration, we will transform challenges into opportunities, allowing great ideas to thrive and their benefits to be amplified worldwide.
Expo 2020 will be the platform for that collaboration - an unprecedented opportunity to bring the world together in a spirit of optimism with a clear, shared objective of creating a better tomorrow for our planet and everyone on it.
At Expo 2020, we foresee a world with clean water to drink and pure air to breathe for all, where natural resources are conserved for future generations, where all women are educated and empowered, where every child goes to school and none go hungry, and where healthcare is not a luxury.
This is well within our reach. In fact, humanity has made great strides in recent decades. Data from the United Nations shows that extreme poverty has halved, access to water has dramatically increased, child mortality has plummeted and there have been huge leaps in literacy and the number of children in school.
These successes should be celebrated, and they should drive us forward to seek creative, innovative and effective solutions that target those areas where we must do better.
Expo 2020 coincides with the start of the decade of delivery towards achieving the Global Sustainable Development Goals - the worldwide plan for the peace and prosperity of people and the planet.
And the UAE, as a nation built on tolerance and inclusivity and home to 200 nationalities, is the proud host of this event, the first of its kind in our region and a major milestone for the Arab world.
Expo 2020's over-arching theme of 'Connecting Minds, Creating the Future' is rooted in the undeniable fact that we achieve so much more when we work together.
For the 173 days of Expo 2020, 192 nations will work side by side with international organisations and social enterprises, sharing knowledge with the brightest minds from the corporate and academic world.
Countries and organisations at the forefront of technological prowess will meet others that carry the promise of untapped potential, nurturing cooperation on a global scale and deepening our collective and mutual understanding.
By choosing to locate Country Pavilions in areas of common interest rather than geographically, Expo will break down traditional barriers, creating the tantalising prospect of, as an example, China, Honduras, Norway and South Sudan becoming neighbours in the Opportunity District.
There is no limit to the discussions that could develop, the opportunities for change that may ensue - and this will be replicated in a myriad of different ways across the event. Expo 2020 will stimulate innovative discussions and spark alternative ideas - just what the world needs if we are to come up with more creative solutions to our globally-shared challenges.
International participants - the lifeblood of Expo 2020 - will not only contribute to an unmissable global celebration, they will fuel their own growth and prosperity and help form a bedrock that inspires us all to become change-makers for a better world.
And, with an expected 25 million visits, the next World Expo will be a powerful opportunity to magnify important messages on issues that resonate around the world, inviting us all to play our part in a future full of optimism, based on shared global visions and built on collaboration, tolerance and resilience.
Staging such a large-scale, global event showcases the UAE's dynamism and capacity to bring the world together and promote cross-pollination of thoughts, cultures and ideas.
It highlights our country's strong vision of the future as we carry this innovative, optimistic spirit forward for generations to come, because Expo 2020 will be a truly historic event - not just for Dubai and the UAE as we approach our nation's Golden Jubilee - but for the world.
Reem Al Hashimy is Minister of State for International Cooperation & Director General, Expo 2020 Dubai Bureau