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October 2019

Current Issue: October 2019

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Welcome to a world of travel, entertainment and culture, curated from a global collective of writers, photojournalists and artists. Each article of our award-winning magazine is sure to inspire, no matter which of our destinations you call home.
 
 
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One year to go

1 October 2019

192 Countries. Millions of people. The world's greatest show is only 12 month away.

When the sun goes down in some areas of rural Rwan-da, the day is over – an unforgiving reality for mil-lions of people in developing countries that don’t have access to electricity.

A lack of electricity at night means the inability to keep studying, working, and a general lessening of safety. It is a disruption to the daily patterns of life that one startup, championed by Expo 2020 Dubai, is tackling head on.

Nuru Energy empowers entrepre-neurial local villagers with a kit that contains portable LED lights and an innovative solar-powered charging sta-tion, used to recharge torches and other USB devices like mobile phones.

The entrepreneurs charge a small fee each time they recharge a device – far less than the cost of disposable bat-teries, which contribute to landfill. In addition to increased productivity and quality of life, the programme keeps a portion of the local economy within the community that would otherwise go to a power company or battery manufac-turer, and introduces a valuable new service to the neighbourhood. Rented or purchased lights give villagers up to 40 hours of use per recharge.

The startup is supported by Expo Live, an innovation programme with an allocation of US$100 million to sup-port ingenious innovators who have devised socially impactful projects that help push the world towards a brighter future. It has been just one of the suc-cess stories in the run-up to the global mega-event that is Expo 2020 Dubai, the first of its kind in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region.

As well as boosting their host coun-try’s own reputation and standing, the Expo has always had a message of cross-cultural pollination. In the 19th Century, that meant the bringing of dif-ferent tribes or small communities con-sidered “exotic” to the event.

Now, nations from every corner of the planet are coming together as equals to deliver Expo 2020 Dubai – a global destination that will host millions of visitors and hundreds of participants for a six-month celebration of human ingenuity and progress.

Nuru Energy is just one of extraor-dinary feats of creativity and ingenuity being brought to life by the global event. Architecturally, the pavilions promise to outdo themselves. The Italian Pavilion is to be set under the overturned hulls of three ships; Poland will have thousands of ‘migrating’ paper birds hovering throughout its wooden pavilion; Brazil will lead visitors through a recreation of the Amazon basin.

Throughout, three themes will under-pin these amazing technological feats of innovation: themes whose wheels have been turning for the last six years.

THE BEGINNINGS

Dubai won the bid to host the 2020 World Expo in November 2013. From that day forward, it embarked upon a journey to-wards the creation of a global collabora-tive platform that leaves a lasting legacy for both the UAE as a country, as well as all of its international participants.

One of the world’s oldest and largest international events, taking place every five years and lasting six months, Ex-pos are unrivalled among international events in their size, scale, duration and visitor numbers. They are large-scale platforms for education and progress that serve as a bridge between govern-ments, companies, international organ-isations and citizens.

Expo 2020 Dubai’s theme is ‘Con-necting Minds, Creating the Future’: the belief that innovation and progress are the result of people from different fields and backgrounds, who would not nor-mally collaborate, coming together in new and unique ways to share ideas.

The nations and organisations that will take part in Expo, and the millions who visit, will explore the power of these connections across the spheres of Opportunity – unlocking the poten-tial for individuals and communities to shape the future; Mobility – creating smarter and more productive move-ment of people, goods and ideas, both physically and virtually; and Sustaina-bility – respecting and living in balance with the world we inhabit to ensure a sustainable future for all.

DELIVERING ON A PROMISE

For the first time in the 168-year history of World Expos, every participating country at Expo 2020 will have its own pavilion. With one year to go, 192 countries have confirmed they will take part in Expo 2020, with dozens of nations already re-vealing the design, theme and visitor ex-perience of their pavilions, and more be-ing announced on a regular basis.

From the UK Pavilion and its con-tinuously-changing, AI-generated poem exterior to the innovative rotating cubes (and K-Pop) on offer at the Korean Pavil-ion – each nation is seeking to outdo itself in the championing of innovative themes through creative and resourceful ways.

There will be more than 60 live events each day for 173 days, from mu-sic, dance and art to poetry slams and live talks. Al Wasl, the UAE’s first opera set to debut in October of next year, will 65 surely be a highlight. Site development at the physical Expo 2020 Dubai site be-gan in March 2016, with the construction of the three Thematic Districts complet-ed already, participating countries also breaking ground on their pavilion plots, and all major site construction set to be complete by the end of the year.

As for economic impact, in April of this year EY published an independent report that stated that Expo 2020 Dubai and its legacy are expected to contribute AED122.6 billion to the UAE’s economy from 2013–31. It is anticipated that Expo 2020 will also support up to 905,200 job-years during the same timeframe, and contribute approximately 1.5 per cent of the UAE’s annual forecast GDP during the six months of the Expo.

A major focal point of this econom-ic contribution has, and will be, cham-pioning and support of SMEs. To date, Expo 2020 has awarded AED 3.62 billion to SMEs, and programmes like the In-novation Impact Grant and University Innovation Programmes are already in full swing – the former having given 120 grantees from 65 countries funding, guidance and exposure.

Currently, 55.4 per cent of all Expo 2020 contracts have been awarded to SMEs, some of which are local prod-ucts already on sale, including artisan chocolate by Mirzam, camel soap by the Camel Soap Factory, and Bateel dates.

THE SITE

Historically, Dubai was referred to as Al Wasl, which translates from Arabic as “the Connection”, because of how it connected people from all over the region. The Expo seeks to recreate this idea of a cultural meeting point with its location. The site is located within the Dubai South district, close to Al Mak-toum International Airport and easily reached from Dubai International Air-port, Abu Dhabi International Airport, and Dubai and Abu Dhabi Cruise Termi-nals. On its 4.38 square kilometres are the three Thematic Districts that reflect the subthemes of Opportunity, Mobili-ty and Sustainability, as well as the 192 individual Country Pavilions that will showcase the unique architecture, cul-ture and exhibits of each nation.

Al Wasl Plaza will be the iconic cen-trepiece of Expo 2020. It will host major ceremonies and celebrations during and after Expo, and the venue’s steel trellis dome will act as an immersive 360-degree projection surface.

The main pavilions will reflect their values in both an aesthetic and con-tent-driven manner. The Opportunity Pavilion will take visitors on a journey of self-discovery to understand the global challenges we face as humanity and demonstrate everyone’s ability to make a contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); the Mobili-ty Pavilion will explore the movement of people, goods, ideas and data, and how mobility has driven humanity’s devel-opment from our first steps out of Afri-ca to today’s cutting-edge innovations; and Terra – the Sustainability Pavilion will tell the story of humankind’s rela-tionship with nature. Arguably one of the most important facets of the Expo, it is designed to empower visitors to un-derstand their impact on the environ-ment and become agents of change.

THE SUSTAINABILITY ISSUE

The emotive journey through the Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion depicts hu-mankind’s relationship with nature and shows the butterfly effect our actions have on the environment. It begins in a wadi – a dry riverbed – at the beginning of Arabia. Visitors continue their journey through a series of interactive installations: a giant balance maze requires the collaboration of multiple people to put Earth on to an even footing; the Gnasher, an insatiable machine that demonstrates the folly of single-use consumer products; a huge deep-sea fish, its body clogged with discarded plastic.

But the focus on environmental solu-tions will not wait for the event to begin. Expo 2020 Dubai is already making a sustainable commitment to its creation: for example, the on-site nursery is nur-turing 500,000 shrubs and ground cover, and 13,000 mature trees that are either native or adaptable to the Middle East.

Through these and other efforts, Expo 2020 hopes to show that it is possi-ble – and critical – to leave a meaningful and lasting impact on our planet.

THE END GOALS

Expo 2020 Dubai expects to welcome 25 million visits between October 2020 and April 2021, equivalent to welcoming the population of Australia through its gates in only six months. Each of these visits is important in its own right, as they will individually provide the cata-lyst for mammoth change.

That change may be simply the chance to experience a local cuisine never tried before, or see an opera for the first time. It might be a chance for a volunteer to discover their passion for architecture, or a new job opportunity for a university student. It might be a startup’s access to a new source of funding, or a charity’s chance meeting with a new donor.

Whatever the change, the simple act of attending will allow opportunities to open up, and access to new knowledge, new markets – new innovations. After all, Expo 2020 Dubai is all about the future.

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