Dubai Expo 2020

Inside Dubai’s EXPO 2020

After a year long delay due to the havoc of the 2020 pandemic, the opening of Dubai’s EXPO 2020 has finally arrived. The grand scale of anything associated with Dubai is on full display stoking one’s wildest imagination, virtually a Disney EPCOT on steroids. Five years of development and the unprecedented participation of 192 countries has led to the first global event of this magnitude since the pandemic, possibly ever.

Exceeding all expectations this showcase of innovation and technology is a testament to the evolution of human achievement, global diversity and culture. The unlimited potential of the world in which we live is examined in three distinct districts: Sustainability, Opportunity and Mobility.

Mobility District

The Mobility Pavilion explores the beginnings of world connectivity through travel. Enter this architectural marvel by taking the world’s largest elevator transporting 160 persons at a time to a darkened dome with 28 foot tall replicas of explorers that paved the way for ancient world exploration. Mobility has spurred the development of humankind, spanning pre-historic Africa to space travel, vast deserts to Mars. The journey through the pavilion takes you from humble beginnings to cutting edge technologies in navigation. Witness the progress of robotic design, drones and jet packs in action in a partly underground arena.

Dubai Expo 2020
Mobility Pavillion | Photo: Steve Leland

Sustainability District

This district examines initiatives that ensure the continued existence of our home, Planet Earth. Walking through this massive exhibition is an invitation to witness the potential hazards that come with ignoring extravagant consumerism as well as initiatives that could very well overcome the obstacles we face.

The largest country showcase is in this area is the UAE pavilion exposing a combination of architectural innovation, employment of sustainability goals and a storyline synonymous with the goals of the country. Within the district you can stroll beneath massive solar energy and water condensing trees alongside traditional ‘falaj’ irrigation channels. Cultural shows and performances are held in the large outdoor arena.

Dubai | United Arab Emirates
Dubai Expo 2020 | Photo: Steve Leland

View the potential of a vertical farm in the Netherlands pavilion, a walk through a forest canopy in the Singapore pavilion or take in the sights and sounds of the Amazon basin in Brazil’s pavilion.

Opportunity District

Witness the inspiring storyline of three everyday persons who have changed lives on the brink of collapse in a pavilion shared by the initiatives of the United Nations. Less about shock and awe technology, it stresses the redeeming value of harnessing nature itself. 

The USA pavilion heralds the potential of democratic principles via a moving walkway passing through the country’s historic beginnings and finishing with an exhibition of moon exploration replicas and a massive SpaceX rocket. The Japan pavilion has been praised as one of the most popular with a facade that combines Arabesque and Asanosha patterns. One of Asia’s best kept secrets and home to one of the world’s earliest civilizations is exposed in the colorful Pakistan pavilion.

Dubai 2020
Pakistan Pavillion | Photo: Steve Leland

An Entertainment Showcase with Food For Thought

Referred to as the heart of EXPO 2020, the massive dome and intricate trellised latticework of Al Wasl Plaza serves as a centralized hub for pavilion exploration. The amphitheater doubles as a 360 degree laser projection surface with nightly light and sound extravaganzas alongside live presentations by celebrated performers. With over 60 shows a day spanning 182 days, EXPO 2020 provides once in a lifetime opportunities to experience the world from one location. Watch pop up flash mob tango one minute and be entertained by an impromptu African dance troupe the next. Irish musicians entertain with traditional folk music in the Irish pavilion while a classical pianist dazzles with a Chopin concert in the Polish pavilion.

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Catering to the hunger for ethnic cuisine experiences, every taste imaginable is available from over 200 kiosks, cafes and sit down restaurants. Savor the talents of Michelin-starred chefs in elegant venues or enjoy street food culture from scattered food truck sites.

The Rove Hotel brand offers exclusive on-site accommodations with every room overlooking Al Wasl Plaza plus complimentary EXPO entrance.  Although the standard one day entrance fee is just over $27, senior citizens are free and some airlines offer complimentary passes.  

Couple the intriguing appeal of Dubai with the visions, dreams and accomplishments of 192 countries and you have an opportunity to fulfill dreams of world travel. Don’t put it off as Dubai EXPO 2020 closes on March 31, 2022.

Check out the recorded stream of the event’s Opening Ceremony below!


As a former Cruise Director, Steve has been cruising the world for the past forty years. Bringing a new dimension to cruise journalism, he continues to spin the globe searching for off the grid cruise adventures and unplugged destinations to share with Porthole Cruise Magazine readers.