With the whole world’s focus now on Dubai after the much-awaited Expo 2020 Dubai kicked off this month, it’s worth remembering that the event is not just about putting up a great spectacle; it’s about staging the Middle East’s first ever event of this scale during a pandemic, overcoming challenges, beating the odds and showing that the UAE is more than capable of designing, building and launching a project that has global impact.
Which is rather fitting, as the nation has been welcoming the world to its shores for more than 50 years. It is one of the things that makes this event so unique, compared to previous Expos held around the world, because the UAE is home to people from around 200 different nations and territories, living together, working together and collectively contributing to the economic and social growth of one of the world’s youngest nations. Which means we can quite rightly call ourselves the most cosmopolitan place on Earth, where the whole population collaborates in building a better society.
The Expo’s opening ceremony was watched live around the world by millions who tuned in to witness the culmination of years of hard work in designing, planning and building what is, in effect, an entirely new suburb of Dubai.
After a delay of one year necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic, the lights finally came on, international opera heavyweights sang alongside jazz and pop stars, folk dances and traditional music and songs were performed while the event celebrated inclusivity, the unique characteristic of Dubai.
Which is why it was delightful to watch 12-year-old expatriate girl Mira Singh, a dancer and model, play the part of an Emirati juvenile, stealing the hearts of millions of viewers around the world. Born in the UAE, Mira is perhaps one of the finest examples of how important it is to have such diverse representation at a global event happening in one of the most multicultural cities in the world. A true reflection of our community.
For the next six months, participating nations will showcase their efforts to boost trade and investment and attract tourists. Global giants will rub shoulders with regional powerhouses and local business leaders, but Expo 2020 Dubai is also about the more than 20 million people who are expected to visit Dubai to experience — what for many will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — a chance to see how innovation, ingenuity, and determination can create a space where global challenges like climate change, carbon emissions and economic growth can actually be addressed together.
The Expo 2020 Dubai theme of ‘Connecting Minds and Creating the Future’ is a reflection of the nation’s vision to be a creative, artistic, inventive and industrial hub that advocates the power of global collaboration in order to construct a more sustainable future that benefits us all.
But it is so much more than that.
Between now and March 31, 2022, Dubai, and by extension the UAE, will be gifting the people a much-needed break from the darkness of the last two years, showcasing to the world that no virus can stop us from staging an event of this magnitude.
Let’s all enjoy the fruits of this amazing collaboration, facilitated by a safe environment and enabled by a desire to protect our future. And if Expo 2020 Dubai is to have a lasting legacy, let it be that there is always hope in a tolerant society.
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