The epitome of expositions…Expo2020 Dubai

by Editorial Team
5 minutes read

Constance Makoni-Thodhlana

A year after flights were grounded with businesses recording huge losses owing to a pandemic that rattled the world, Expo 2020 Dubai emerged as a melting pot of cultures, a platform to create sustainable synergies for countries, an arena where architecture and technology intimately blend in splendour and extravagance. Most importantly, the mega event was a catalyst for economic growth. Among the millions that patronized the world-class expo was yours truly and here goes my experience!

Everything that represented Dubai was adorned with the Expo 2020 logo inspired by an ancient artefact which was currently on display at a museum in the Middle East country. It signifies that civilisation has deep roots. Simply put it means “We were and will always be a pot that gathers civilisations and a centre for innovation.” The logo captured my eye as the Emirates airbus proudly taxied into the airport apron. While searching for content to entertain myself with during the 8-hour flight, I bumped into several documentaries and infomercials about the expo, I was compelled to tune in. By the time we landed what only remained was to match the descriptions in the content with the actual infrastructure and activities on the ground.

The airport was its usual hive of activity, with hundreds going in different directions, some connecting while others were arriving, the expo organizers capitalized on the activity to market through high quality ultra LED screens that were mounted on walls, pillars, desks and other areas that would leave one wondering. The level and quality of adverts were simply breathtaking, I found myself taking lots of pictures and videos for use back home. Yes, our economies are at different levels of development. but the screens are something we could borrow for use at our own events.

The transport system was also very impressive, throughout my stay, I used the train without an ounce of fear of being lost or mugged. The routes were crystal clear and the convenience was unmatched as we were dropped off right at the entrance/exit of the expo venue. World-class is an understatement to describe the design, ambience and quality of finishing. One would be forgiven for thinking it’s an airport.

The expo venue covers an area of 4.38 square kilometres, it’s massive! One can never exhaust the place in a day. Right at the centre there is a dome that doubles up as the world’s largest 360-degree theatre. It also connects the exhibition’s three thematic districts namely Sustainability, Mobility and Opportunity where Zimbabwe and most African countries were stationed. During the day the dome provides good shade considering the sweltering temperatures in Dubai but as dusk approaches it comes to life and becomes a total showstopper. An amazing laser projection of birds resting and flying all over the dome simply blows one’s mind not to mention the dome changing colours. The dome is creativity on steroids!!

It is also a headache over which pavilion to visit first, while most developing countries are housed in pavilions that have uniform exterior designs and customized interiors, it is the stand alone architectural designs that were out of this world. At the Dubai stand, I joined the winding queue but sadly lost patience along the way. I will however describe the exterior of the stand which inspired the falcon’s eye. Who would have thought a bird’s eye would inspire the design of a building? The falcon is the national bird of the UAE, it symbolizes the rich history and cultural heritage. The pavilion’s wing-like roof elements seemed to defy gravity.

China, Japan, the UK, Italy, Finland, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Australia, Qatar and Russia to mention a few were among the countries with spectacular designs. My conclusion on the architecture is that it was a clash of the giants, an expression if not a show off of architectural giants. Super powers were out to play!

Six months isn’t child’s play and the number of events running concurrently with the expo was a huge fit that required the highest level of order. As a communicator, there were many learnings with regard to planning, budgeting and most importantly creativity. Back home I thought about some of our exhibitions which are good but could be revamped to infuse activities that bring excitement and value. Exhibitions do not happen in isolation, there is need for supporting infrastructure such as accommodation, transport, technology and so much more. It’s an intricate industry that needs experts to really go granular and attack each and every aspect until everything is worn together. Our level of creativity needs to go a gear up!

Yes, one may raise the issue of funds, understandable. Planning an expo of such a magnitude requires serious financial stamina. I would rather focus on the benefits and I can bet Dubai is racking in from many fronts because of the expo. I respect the leadership of the Middle East country particularly the remarkable Reem Ebrahim Al-Hashimi, the woman or rather the force behind the planning of the Expo 2020 Dubai. She is beyond amazing and inspires me in so many ways. The Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirate Sheik Mohammed Bin al Markhtoum in his book titled My Vision: Challenges in the Race of Excellence states that Dubai will never settle for anything less than first place. Expo 2020 Dubai and so many other remarkable developments happening in his country are a true expression of his vision of excellence. Respect!

The expo ran from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022.

Constance Makoni-Thodhlana is a Marketing and Communications Professional. She can be contacted at

This article was first published by the ZimMarketer magazine in March 2022.

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