Dubai on Saturday unveiled the signature pavilion for the upcoming Expo 2020, the world’s fair that is scheduled to open later this year even as the global pandemic that forced its postponement continues to rage.
The Terra Pavilion, which features a towering 130 meter-wide canopy blanketed with thousands of solar panels, is part of the sheikhdom’s push to rally enthusiasm for the high-stakes expo amid the pandemic that has pummeled its economy.
The massive structure, devoted to environmental sustainability, rises from the fairgrounds on the desert outskirts of Dubai, where construction workers still scurry around national pavilions in various stages of completion.
Dubai’s Expo 2020 is expected to draw 25 million visitors and a flurry of business deals.
The event represents a US$7 billion bet by the city in the United Arab Emirates to boost international tourism and investment.
The yearlong delay puts even more pressure on the event to spur Dubai’s service-heavy economy.
Saturday’s media tour of the gleaming pavilion was tightly controlled, with dozens of press officers instructing photographers to shoot only from specific angles that showed off the building’s best features and obscured nearby pavilions still covered with scaffolding and clouds of plaster dust.
The Terra Pavilion, which cost over US$272 million, is designed to produce as much electricity as it uses, making it both energy and carbon neutral. It will supply and treat all of its own water.
The 25,000 square-meter pavilion boasts experiences of forests and oceans as well as interactive exhibits guiding visitors through the history of environmental decline and dangers of overconsumption.
The vast eruption of climate-controlled steel and glass teems with butterflies, lizards and insects. Thick clumps of reeds lining the building filter air conditioning wastewater for reuse.