Amazing Dubai Expo 2020

What can I say about Dubai Expo 2020?! It defies superlatives. We have just spent the most extraordinary day there and barely scratched the surface of the huge number of amazing attractions and pavilions. The sheer scale of the site is mindblowing: 1100 acres, 200 pavilions plus shops, entertainment areas, stages….. It’s a place you need to spend days exploring in order to fully appreciate it.

We decided to go later in the afternoon, trying to avoid the worst of the heat. We took the metro there – about 20 minutes from the Marina. The Expo tube station is right at the entrance to the exhibition. And then the walking begins….

There’s no getting away from it…. you walk a lot. Comfortable shoes are a must. We got there about 4pm and it was still about 37C and felt enormously hot. By the time I got to the first pavilion I was already sweating loads…. so was Lucy….. luckily all the pavilions are air conditioned and it was so welcome to walk in to the icy air….

It’s a magnificent and beautiful site. So many countries have wonderful buildings showcasing how they are exemplifying one of the three main themes of this world’s fair: Sustainability; Opportunity; Mobility. There is a big emphasis on preserving and enhancing the world’s resources. Today we were mainly in the Sustainability section, and we visited the pavilions of Singapore (amazing hanging gardens much like Gardens by the Bay), Kuwait, Czech Republic, Qatar, Maldives, a large joint one called Terra which concentrated on sustainability and the world’s oceans and forests. There are amazing digital displays and technology exhibits in all the pavilions. For example in Terra you walk through the ocean amongst sea creatures and then come to a section where it becomes full of plastic bottles. There’s an interactive section where you make choices about what to keep and what to let go and then see the result of your choice. A lot of food for thought……

And talking of food!

Every pavilion has a cafe showcasing the food of the country. We tried bao buns in Singapore. And there are also food villages. One showcases the food of Africa in a great dining hall with different African restaurants hosting sections. One Showcases new and celebrity chefs and new cuisines including plant based cuisines. We ate dinner in that area because we wanted to try the food of Hattem Mattar who has become very hot at the moment out here for being the regions first pit master ie bbq meat expert. It’s bbq but not as you know it….. the spice mix is very unique. We both tried his brisket on a share-share dinner. One order of brisket on a bed of amazing spiced pilaff. Tne other a brisket and cheese po boy style sandwich. Both were delicious – yummingly good. I think the pilaff edged it because both the brisket and the pilaff were outstanding. The meat melt in the mouth and with this interesting spice mixture flavour. Not chilli hot, just richly spiced.

We came across a giant fountain area where you can stand at the base of what appears to be a tidal wave breaking over you but only your feet get wet. So clever because the wave cresting at the top and crashing down is genuine water …

It was definitely a more enjoyable experience after the sun set around 6pm. Still over 30C but much better. When we go back, we won’t even get there till about 530. It’s just too hot before that for us northern Europeans.

Korean Pavilion by night

The centrepiece of the entire park is the Al Wasl Dome which sits at the heart of the three areas. The dome forms the largest 360 degree projection surface in the world. If you saw the outstanding opening ceremony on tv, it was staged inside the dome. But one of the marvels of the surface is that you can see the projections outside as well.

The engineering statistics of the building and the technology available inside it are just amazing. It is truly an incredible feat as well as being incredibly beautiful by day or night. We sat inside for quite a while just admiring the ceiling show. Mesmerizing. It will continue to be an extraordinary concert and event space after Expo ends.

Headed home,. broken and exhausted, about 8pm, resolving to go back another night. There are so many areas left to see…….

There are live performances going on all the time: music of different countries – we saw African drummers, Emirati musicians, dancers….. robots….. dodo birds dancing…. there are a lot of shows.

Emirati musical troup

A special mention must be made about the Dubai Metro. It is probably the most beautiful metro system I’ve seen anywhere. Stunningly designed, immaculately clean – you can see your reflection in the marble floors – air conditioned (get that TFL!!!!!!). Just a pleasure to ride. A day pass was about £4. The trains are equally spotless. Oh, did I mention? All the trains are on time, have run for over 8 years without incident…… and they’re driverless. Funny that….

Expo is on for 6 months and if anyone has the chance, then jump at the opportunity to visit this amazing, once in a long time if not a lifetime event. It’s well worth it. I just wish I was here longer and had younger legs to take me round. I comforted myself that Lucy was as shambling a figure as me when we got back to the Marina…… You can see the official site here: including a virtual visit.