Visitors move around different pavilions at the Expo 2020 Dubai. Kamal Kassim, Gulf Today
Expo 2020 Dubai has recorded 8,958,132 visits during its first three months, boosted by a slate of spectacular events across the December festive season and with more world-class sport, music and cultural performances expected in the second half of its six-month run.
From October to December 2021, Expo hosted a total of 8,902 government leaders, including ministers, presidents, prime ministers and heads of state - all speaking at numerous official events, including Expo National Days, which provide a unique opportunity to spotlight a nation’s culture, achievements, pavilion and event-time programming.
Almost half of all visits (47 per cent) have been generated by Expo’s Seasons Passes, with the number of repeat visits to Expo in the first three months reaching 3.5 million - a reflection of the myriad of experiences that require more than one visit.
Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister for International Cooperation and Director General of Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “We enter a new year having built solid friendships that will enable us to drive urgent action on some of the greatest challenges facing us all.
“Our latest figures are testament to the determination and hard work of everyone involved in Expo as we pass our half-way mark. And with the health, safety and wellbeing of everyone continuing to be of the highest priority, the numbers also reflect the strength of our ongoing stringent COVID-19 safety measures, which continue to protect visitors, staff and Expo participants alike.”
December highlights included jaw-dropping fireworks and electrifying New Year’s Eve sets from world-renowned DJs Armin van Buuren and Dmitri Vegas.
The celebrations topped an incredible month that began with the UAE’s Golden Jubilee and included a show-stopping performance from Alicia Keys and a concert from AR Rahman - his first in almost two years.
With just 87 days left, each jam-packed with more amazing experiences - from a visit from British boxing star Anthony Joshua on Jan.5 (today) to the first ever Global Goals Week to be held outside New York later this month - visitors are encouraged to grab their tickets as soon as possible.
Between Oct.1 and Dec.31, almost one third (30 per cent) of all visitors came from outside the UAE, with the top international visitor countries including India, Germany, France, the UK, the USA, Russia and Saudi Arabia.
Many people also continue to travel to the site using RTA transport, honouring Expo 2020’s sustainability subtheme. Between Oct.1 October and end-December, almost 675,000 rides were made to and from the site using taxis, more than a million trips were made on the free Expo Rider bus service, and more than 3.4 million users entered and exited Expo via the Dubai Metro.
Expo 2020’s virtual visitation crossed the 50 million mark, driven by the fantastic offering of Live@Expo, which enables visitors to take a bespoke live virtual tour through the site, as well as headline acts which have seen millions of viewers tune in from around the globe.
The Expo School Programme attracted 334,110 visits from private and public schools over 41 school days, representing around a third of the total student population in the UAE. The programme’s virtual series, Expo Adventures, saw visits soar to 3.9 million up to Dec.31 with students attending from more than 60 countries.
As the most significant global gathering to be held since the start of the pandemic, Expo 2020’s stringent COVID-19 safety measures are designed to protect everyone visiting and working on site. They include mask-wearing - indoors and outdoors - for visitors, staff and participants, and on-site PCR testing facilities for Country Pavilion staff, frontline workers, and entertainers.
All Expo and International Participant staff, volunteers, contractors and service providers must be vaccinated, while visitors ages 18 and above must present proof of any vaccination or a negative PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours.
BEAUTIFUL ARTWORK: The Malaysia Pavilion, in collaboration with Emirati artist Shatha Essa Al Mulla, has presented Expo 2020 Dubai with a beautiful artwork in honour of the UAE’s Golden Jubilee.
The art was created after the Emirati artist and designer used the Expo 2020 Business App – Expo 2020’s official business platform, designed to facilitate business connections before and during the event – to explore expanding her business in Malaysia.
Al Mulla worked closely with Malaysian artists, under the guidance of the Malaysian Green Technology and Climate Change Corporation (MGTC), to build 50 cones that represent 50 sand dunes of the UAE.
Al Mulla said: “The inspiration behind the art installation comes from the rich heritage of both Malaysia and the UAE. The Golden Jubilee of the UAE is a time for everyone to appreciate where the UAE started and where it is now. With that in mind, we have added a thin gold line on every cone to mimic that gold strand – the Golden Jubilee. Coming together and appreciating different cultures and traditions is another quality that the UAE holds, and with that I collaborated with artisans from Malaysia to present this art installation.”
Shamsul Bahar Mohd Nor, CEO, MGTC, said: “I am delighted that this collaboration came from a business-matching meeting between the Malaysia Pavilion and Miss Shatha. It’s simply amazing to see an organic idea take root and sprout into a beautiful piece of artwork, with strong symbolism anchored by a shared artisanal tradition of weaving. It truly epitomises the theme of Expo 2020 Dubai – ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’. We are proud that we are doing exactly that, connecting the creativity of two artisans from our countries based on a similar traditional craft, which binds us together as global citizens.”
Representing a movement to incorporate traditional practices into contemporary art, the piece reflects the aims of Expo 2020 Dubai’s Hammour House project – a celebration of local knowledge that invites visitors to rediscover traditional tactile methods of creating art, such as knitting, quilting and weaving.
Ahmed Al Enezi, Senior Manager – Arts and Culture, Expo 2020 Dubai Pavilions and Exhibitions, said: “Expo 2020 Dubai is honoured to receive this prestigious artwork from Malaysia to celebrate the UAE’s Golden Jubilee. Today, we are reminded more than ever of the importance of rekindling our relationship with Mother Nature, to create a more sustainable way of life, and to find more sustainable ways of production, consumption, and overall wellbeing for a better humanity.”
Malaysia’s self-built 1,234.05 sq meter pavilion is the first net zero carbon pavilion at the EXPO. The Pavilion features a rainforest canopy inspired by the majestic tropical rainforest of Malaysia, blending cultural elements with nature and functionality into a futuristic building.
The Pavilion carries the theme “Energising Sustainability” to represent the nation’s commitment and approach to sustainable development. It is segmented into four sub-themes; “Energising Today”, “Energising Tomorrow”, “Energising Harmony” and “Energising Business”. Malaysia’s activities during the Expo will include permanent 3D displays, daily cultural performances, craft demonstrations, café operations as well as 26 weekly thematic trade and business programmes.
The business weeks will involve a large contingent of 21 ministries, 69 agencies and five state governments initiating and supporting the programmes. They will also bring weekly business delegations from the industry that will participate in pocket talks, product launches, business matching sessions and signing of MoUs. Malaysia Pavilion will also host and participate in summits and forums throughout Expo.
The Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation is the lead ministry for Malaysia’s participation at the mega event. Malaysian Green Technology and Climate Change Corporation (MGTC) is the implementing agency.
Spain Pavilion: ‘Gran Bolero’ dance show, awarded with the MAX Prize (Spanish national prize for performing arts) as Best Dance Production in 2020, will take place at the Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre on Jan.8, at 7.00 pm, and 9, at 8.00 pm.
Coproduced by the two most important dance houses in Spain, Madrilenian Teatros del Canal and Mercat de les Flors in Barcelona, Gran Bolero brings us into a new dimension of Ravel’s famous composition. It is a work about the effort and pleasure of resistance; an obstinate choreography about the fine line separating enjoyment and exhaustion, a dance to celebrate the time and space we share.In the choreography six dancers from Madrid and six dancers from Barcelona come together to devote themselves to dance and revisit a musical score composed by Ravel in 1928 as an orchestral transcription of a traditional Spanish dance.
Gran Bolero was premiered at Teatros del Canal (Madrid) in April 2019. Since then, the show has been presented in several theatres and festivals all over Europe such as Mercat de les Flors de Barcelona, teatro Principal de Valencia, Gran Teatro Falla de Cádiz, Teatro Vascello (Festival Romaeuropa, Italy) or International Theatre Amsterdam (opening Brandhaarden Festival 2020).
Jesús Rubio Gamo (Madrid, 1982) is an independent dancer and choreographer based in Madrid. After studying ballet, contemporary dance, theatre and literature, has completed an MA in choreography at London Contemporary Dance School and an MA in Performative Studies at MNCARS (Madrid). His works have been presented at Festivals all over the world.
The Spain Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai presents a cultural programme with the presence of 32 Spanish companies, more than 200 artists and close to 100 performances, which will take place both in the Spain Pavilion and on the main stages of the Expo site (Jubilee Stage, Terra Auditorium, Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre, Earth Stage).