Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Dubai Expo 2020 comes to life


After a much-extended wait, the Dubai Expo 2020 opening ceremony took place on 30 September, welcoming a 3,000-strong audience inside the heart of the Expo site, the Al Wasl Plasa, as well over a million livestream viewers from around the world. In addition to music from some of the most influential artists on the planet backed by live orchestra, a sensory overload of visuals was beamed across the Plaza’s dome, which holds the accolade of being home to the world’s largest 360° projection screen.

More than 3,000 lighting fixtures and 1,000 loudspeakers were called upon to power the spectacular event, while the ceremony itself saw more than 1,000 participating performers and volunteers take part.

His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, UAE Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence and Commissioner General of Expo 2020 Dubai, welcomed the world to the UAE in his opening speech, noting that: “Expo 2020 Dubai will provide a significant platform for all people to connect, discuss and work together.”

Dimitri S Kerkentzes, secretary general, Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), added that the “time has now come to open Expo 2020 Dubai, an Expo that marks the era, that plays a defining role in the global recovery, and that contributes to a better future.”

The ceremony saw the flags of all 192 participating nations revealed via a domino effect as they opened one by one. The evening’s celebrations culminated with a live performance by tenor Andrea Bocelli of one of his all-time classics, The Prayer.

Other highlights included a performance by British singer Ellie Goulding, as well as the official Expo song, This Is Our Time, sung by Arab artists Hussain Al Jassmi, Almas and Mayssa Karaa. Emirati singing sensation Ahlam Alshamsi completed the regional line-up. Oscar-winning composer A R Rahman’s all-women ensemble, the Firdaus Orchestra, comprising 50 musicians from across the Arab world, also proved a pivotal part of the ceremony’s journey.

With up to 60 live events each day and more than 200 pavilions, the Expo site is starting to coming alive and the first impressions from visitors indicated it being well worth the wait. “I don’t use social media, so I came here to get my own first impression. I’m so excited. I couldn’t imagine seeing this city in the middle of the desert,” said 17-year-old Mubarak Salah Al Hemeiri, who came with his family from Al Ain, Abu Dhabi emirate, and planned to spend the whole day at the Expo site.

Desmond Hayes, from Ireland, was awed at seeing the whole world displayed in one place. “I am here on vacation and have visited several different countries at Expo,” he said. “The place in itself is amazing. The construction is unbelievable.”

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