Five things to know about the UN presence at the Dubai World Expo

1) What are universal exhibitions?

World’s Fairs, also known as “universal expositions”, have been held for more than two centuries and represent a great opportunity for countries to showcase their technological innovations, products and ideas.

At a time when traveling was not possible for the vast majority of people, it was one of the few opportunities people had to experience other cultures and experience the world. Some of the great exhibitions of the 19th century left a lasting mark on the countries where they were held.

For example, the first World’s Fair, held in the City of London in 1851 and known as the Great Exhibition, was held in an iconic cast iron and glass building called the Crystal Palace and featured the fruits of the Industrial Revolution, while the Universal Exposition in Paris in 1889 included the inauguration of the Eiffel Tower, a construction some critics called “ugly” and worth dismantling when the event ended.

Although the ease of traveling to different parts of the world gradually increased during the 20th century, several exhibitions left a lasting mark on their host cities. For example, the iconic space needle (Space Needle) of the American city of Seattle, built for Expo 1962, or the Atomium in Brussels, built for the 1958 edition, which was the first major exhibition after the Second World War.



Unsplash/Wilber Diaz

The Atomium, a structure originally built for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair.

2) What’s happening at Expo Dubai?

Expo Dubai is billed as the biggest event ever in the Arab world. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced its organizers to delay its opening until 2021. The Expo is expected to spur the recovery of the UAE’s economy, especially tourism, which is a particularly important sector for the country.

In order to attract the greatest number of visitors, it was created in the desert a huge 4.3 square kilometer site with more than 200 pavilions. Visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy cultural experiences, performances, exhibits and educational lectures.

The Dubai Expo continues a long tradition of architectural innovation, with the spectacular Al Wasl Dome the centerpiece of the event and the largest unsupported dome in the world at 130 meters wide and 67.5 meters high. Trucking company Uber is also set to demonstrate its aerial cars.

In addition to the 192 country pavilions, there are a number of “special buildings” focusing on the themes of opportunity, mobility and sustainability. One of them houses the center of the United Nations, the “Mission Possible” (Mission Possible).


Inauguration of the World Expo in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, between October 1, 2021 and March 31.  of 2022.

UN/Maher Naasser

Inauguration of the World Expo in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, between October 1, 2021 and March 31. of 2022.

3) What can be seen in the UN operations center?

The UN has scheduled a series of events and activities in the UN Operations Center and in the adjacent space of the Pavilion of Opportunity, including immersive experiences, interactive exhibits, workshops, screenings of films, promotional campaigns, performances and installations.

In addition, they plan dialogues and conversations on issues related to the Sustainable Development Goals, the Organization’s globally agreed goals to reduce poverty, promote peace and equality, and the global protection of human rights. ‘environment.

The programming of the site is carried out by a specialized team under the direction of Dena Assaf, United Nations Resident Coordinator for the United Arab Emirates and Deputy Commissioner General of the United Nations at the Expo, and also benefits from the support of the team of the Organization in the Arab country.

The various exhibits include depictions of the Sustainable Development Goals through art and photography, a journey through the common path undertaken between the United Nations and the United Arab Emirates, and the opportunity to learn in-depth about the thematic areas in which the United Nations exerts its influence on a global scale. .

On October 24, coinciding with the commemoration of United Nations Day, a series of events will take place, including an official ceremony at the Al Wasl Dome and a performance by the Emirates Youth Symphony Orchestra.


Panoramic view of the city of Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Unsplash/Nathan John

Panoramic view of the city of Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

4) Why is the UN participating in Expo 2020?

During the six months that the Expo will last, several million people from various parts of the world are expected in Dubai. For the UN, this represents an opportunity to showcase the Organization’s work and explain why it is essential to overcoming global challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and the achievement of development goals. sustainable.

The UN Commissioner-General at the Expo, Maher Nasser, explained to UN News that since the theme of the event is “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”, with a focus on the Development Goals lasting, the presence of the United Nations helps The organization connects with participants and visitors.
“Given the focus on the quality of the works and exhibits so far, I have no doubt that the UN Operations Center will contribute to a better understanding of the challenges facing the world, and the crucial importance of working together to overcome them”, he underlined.

Nasser added that “it will also lay the groundwork for more collaborations and encourage visitors to become engaged citizens, ready to take action on the issues that matter to the future of people and the planet.”

For his part, Assaf said that through the Operations Center, “the United Nations team in the United Arab Emirates, which has a wide variety of activities at the global, regional and national levels, will show the public the value and the impact of the United Nations around the world.

The Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in the United Arab Emirates seeks to strengthen its strategic partnership in the country by providing a platform that demonstrates the close partnerships between the United Nations and the Arab nation in the framework of the Expo.

Assaf added that “Expo 2020 will also serve to provide the world with an example of how humanity can overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and come together safely again, which will be a burst of optimism for all”.

5) Where can I get more information about the exhibition?

The UN page on Expo2020 will contain updated information on the various meetings and events that will take place throughout the six months of the World Expo which will close on March 31, 2022.

For the latest news and updates, you can also follow the @UN_UAE Twitter account, the #UNxExpo and #UNHub hashtags, and the unitedarabemirates.un.org website.

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