On 14 June 2017, Manal Al Bayat, Senior Vice-President of Expo 2020 Dubai, presented the 161st General Assembly of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) with an overview of the preparations for the next World Expo, themed “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”.

Ms Al Bayat presented the delegates of the BIE Member States with the Expo’s preparation strategy, focusing on a content structure which revolves around theme, culture and innovation. She added that the countdown to Expo 2020 Dubai has begun and that “2017 is the year when design is being taken off paper and brought to life”, as the various infrastructure projects are fully underway. The unveiling of the designs for the last major component of the Expo, the Al Wasl Plaza, was a major milestone in the development of the site.

Al Wasl Plaza

Meaning ‘the connection’ in Arabic, the 65m high, trellis dome structure was inspired by the Expo’s logo. Featuring a translucent 360-degree projection screen, the plaza is designed to be a central hub of activity, and will be converted into a space for hotels and retail units, as part of the Expo’s physical legacy.

Emphasising the importance of the Expo’s theme, Ms Al Bayat detailed the Expo Live initiative, a programme launched to fund and accelerate creative solutions. This partnership and sponsorship initiative is open to everyone and has already resulted in 29 grants being awarded to projects from across the world. BIE Member States were invited to actively participate in this programme in the run up to the Expo.

Manal Al Bayat, Senior Vice-President of Expo 2020 Dubai

The communication strategies to promote the Expo, including digital media, destination marketing and international events, are gaining momentum according to Ms Al Bayat. An air travel activation plan is set to be launched later in the year, and 50 Emirates’ aircraft will soon display the Expo 2020 Dubai logo. These promotional activities will help the Expo achieve its goal of welcoming over 25 million visitors, from both within and outside the UAE.

Furthermore, a visitor centre located in the Expo 2020 offices will be opened shortly to enable the local population and visitors to learn more about the value and legacy of the Expo, as well as the programmes leading up to its opening. As preparations advance, it is evident that Expo 2020 Dubai “is fast becoming a reality, not only in terms of the physical site, or in thematic promise, but also in terms of the participants, as over 100 countries have already confirmed their participation”, concluded Ms Al Bayat.