EXPO 2020: A Bridge to the World
It is hard to imagine a place that more aptly embodies the concept of a ‘cultural melting pot’ than Dubai. Home to over 2.5 million expats from over a hundred different countries, it is a city with an international beating heart. Given its reputation for innovation and ambition, there was no doubt that EXPO 2020 would be quite the spectacle, but now that the event has reached its half way point, it also represents something more. EXPO 2020 is the perfect reflection of who Dubai is and its role as a universal bridge to the global landscape. Following on from our piece on third-culture individuals, we wanted to take a deeper look at what EXPO 2020 has brought to Dubai and to its residents, visitors and citizens.
Bringing the World to Dubai
The key messaging from EXPO 2020 is that we all have the power to build a better world and shape the future. There are 192 countries represented at the event and all of them have embraced the theme of ‘Connecting Minds and Creating the Future’ through sustainability, mobility and opportunity. This inclusive and grand collection of performances, exhibitions and artistry is not only a fantastic example of global progress, it is an extension of the ways in which Dubai is committed to enhancing the experience of its international population. Thanks to the EXPO, long-term residents can connect with their home countries in a truly unique way. This is the essence of what brings fulfilment to third-culture individuals, the ability to celebrate the cultures that shape them, those in the past and in the present. Perhaps one of the Pavilions that embodies this spirit well is the New Zealand one, in which there is the ‘I am’ exhibition, a series that helps us envision the intangible elements that cultivate our own being.
Whether directly or indirectly, the hosting of EXPO 2020 has further impacted the environment of Dubai in a series of ways. An event due to increase our visitor numbers by the millions, it was evident that our international perspective would be even greater than before. It has also increased the numbers of jobs and therefore the number of expats becoming residents. This growth in Dubai’s global recognition has further enhanced the desire of its leaders to ensure the city can compete on an international scale, be that economically, societally or culturally. In the last two years, the city has seen a series of minor and major adaptations to its legal framework that are designed to appeal to prospective residents and to underline to the world that Dubai is a city for all. From the abolition of certain restrictions to co-habiting adults, lessening of leisure associated requirements and the incentivization of in-coming talent and financial investment through new visas and generous allowances, much has been accomplished in the mission to modernize the structure of Dubai.
Another key area in which EXPO 2020 is making great strides is in education. It is not only a prime site for school children of all ages to experience and engage with vital information, it can act as an immensely productive support to lessons across a range of subjects from science to history. The popularity of the event can be supported by the huge numbers of school trips and student centric activities on offer throughout the site. What also sets EXPO apart however is the way in which it has recognised the growing connections between education and industry that are starting the shape the way we teach and learn. EXPO is a window on to how our schools are adapting their curriculums and environments to better equip students for the outside world and a further catalyst for forging stronger partnerships between companies and the institutions that are training their future teams.
Setting the Tone
Ultimately EXPO 2020 is a shining beacon of opportunity, one whose illuminations are even more powerful following the upheaval of the previous two years and the impending challenges that are ahead concerning climate change and political instability. Many of those around the world will herald the event’s ability to showcase innovation, champion creativity and possibly change the way we live, work and interact for the better. Here in Dubai, its benefits will be far felt, especially in terms of economic growth and technological advancement. But one of its major impacts will certainly be in its ability to show just how inclusive it is possible to be and how powerful coming together can be for society as a whole. It will also bring comfort to millions of individuals by allowing them, even for a moment, to feel like they are at home again.