World Expo 2020. Dubai.

MySlowTrip - Dubai World Expo Entrance

I am always keen to see modern urban areas developing. Also, I love to visit exhibitions and trade fairs. So what better combination could I get than to visit Dubai? It’s been 18 years since my last visit.

As one of the 7 United Arab Emirates it has together with Abu Dhabi evolved as one of the most progressive and fastest developing cities in the Middle East. As Dubai has run out of oil quite early, the ruling Al Maktoum family have begun at an early stage to invest heavily into other sectors.

Now Dubai boasts a hypermodern infrastructure, is home of the airline with the largest long haul carrier fleet, and has turned into the most important business and Financial hub in the Middle East while still preserving its traditional cultural heritage. On top, it attracts millions of tourists every year with a vast array of luxury hotels and resorts.

Part of this agenda was to host the World Expo. Originally planned for 2020, due to Corona it opened its gates in October 2021. I decided to start the experience of my visit by taking the metro there. Taking public transport, especially metros and subways, gives me always an interesting impression of local life in an urban place.

The main metro line of Dubai runs on an above ground superstructure more than 15 Miles from North to south through the city and has the final stop right in the desert of the Expo grounds. I indulged myself into a gold class ticket, sort of a business class on the metro, the first of its kind I have seen so far. The 5 $ on the more than one hour journey was money well spent. Along the way we stopped at numerous sci-fi like stations. There was no driver, all remote controlled.

The entrance welcoming visitors is overwhelming. What struck me first was the incredible infrastructure. All brand new, hyper modern, and incredibly spacious. It reminded me a bit of Disneyworld – just the 2022 version.

MySlowTrip - Dubai World Expo Waterfall

The total area covered by the exhibition is a stunning 4 square kilometers. Small shuttle – people movers – carry visitors around to bridge the distances. The three main themes were sustainability, opportunity, and mobility, the first being the predominant topic. There were many awesome attractions, such as the big waterfall.

More than 190 countries showed their best sides at their pavilions. The British was one of the most striking.

Both the round, feng-shui type architecture and the composition of bright colours of the Pakistan pavilion gave a pleasant impression.

Bahrain kept it very puristic, both on the outside and inside, where a renowned architect created a complex web of steel poles.

As expected, China played it big. One of the largest pavilions of all demonstrated China’s advance to a global superpower.

China impressively showcased their most recent achievements in technology.

My favorite was the Saudi Arabian pavilion. Mind boggling architecture, memorable interactive shows of history and modern technology inside.

The Swiss pavilion left through its tricky mirror facade the viewer under a stunning optical illusion.

Numerous smaller countries used the Expo as a platform to pitch their stories to a global audience.

Finally I had of course to come by my home country pavilion, Austria.


My key takeaway from my visit to the Expo 2020: I was at least as much impressed by the whole infrastructure of the Expo than the individual country pavilions.


I wondered what happens to all this enormous infrastrucutre once the Expo closes doors after its 6 month life.