Envisioning a greener future at Expo 2023 Doha Qatar

Interview with Mohamed Ali AlKhoori, Secretary General of Horticultural Expo 2023 Doha

Envisioning a greener future at Expo 2023 Doha Qatar

Bureau International des Expositions

With the theme “Green Desert, Better Environment”, Horticultural Expo 2023 Doha, Qatar will gather countries from around the world around the collective aim of building greener and more sustainable communities. With the Expo opening in one year – on 2 October 2023 - the Secretary General of Expo 2023 Doha, Mohamed Ali AlKhoori lays out the Expo’s guiding principles and explores its expected impact.

In a world threatened by climate change, what role can Expo 2023 Doha play in mitigating desertification and building a greener, more sustainable communities?

Mohamed Ali AlKhoori: The threat of climate change is one of the most pressing issues in the world today and is already affecting every single country on earth. We have no choice but to work together to find solutions to this global problem and ultimately create greener, more sustainable communities.

With its theme “Green Desert, Better Environment”, Expo 2023 Doha, Qatar will showcase the latest technologies and innovations in agriculture, water, energy, and environmental solutions. A truly sustainable community incorporates existing initiatives - such as recycling, effective waste management and tree planting - but also offers comprehensive solutions to the emerging challenges by building bridges between research, cutting-edge technologies, and their effective implementation. I am confident that through this process we will find solutions to many of the challenges we face and will be able to achieve sustainability through design in urban and rural settings.

"Expo 2023 Doha aims to demonstrate that positive change is possible, even in the harshest climates"

Expo 2023 Doha’s sustainability sub-theme will bring together global expert voices and promote innovative sustainable solutions through a series of conferences in partnership with the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH). The discussions will address the most pressing issues such as how to build green cities and enable them to fit today’s urban needs and be enjoyable to all.

It is no surprise that desertification is at the top of the agenda in Qatar - it is a priority for this country and many others in the region, but it goes far beyond the Gulf - in fact, one third of the world’s land surface is threatened with desertification.

We hope that through Expo 2023 Doha, Qatar, we can demonstrate that positive change is possible, even in the harshest climates, and prove the possibility of what would once seem unimaginable – a green desert.

Countries from around the world will build pavilions and gardens for Expo 2023 Doha with their own interpretation of the theme. What will international participants bring to the discussion?

Mohamed Ali AlKhoori: Nature has always been at the heart of communities but has long been taken for granted in many parts of the world. Global awareness about sustainability and the vulnerability of our environment has now increased, and the protection of our parks, forests and gardens is now a priority across the world.

As the world has become ever more urbanised, different countries have sought to develop innovative solutions to maintain precious green spaces and incorporate horticulture into developed environments. The desire to rethink and reshape our living environment has encouraged societies and decision-makers to actively introduce horticultural innovations.

This movement to incorporate the natural environment into urban development is truly global, and we are aiming to host at least 80 countries who will bring their know-how, experiences, solutions, and innovations in agriculture, horticulture, water management, energy solutions, and much more.

"Expo 2023 Doha will become a platform for the exchange of ideas and collaboration between countries"

Every country has approached these challenges in a different way to meet the needs of their societies. We expect their contributions to reflect not only the unique environmental diversity of each country, but also the unique culture.

Expo 2023 Doha, Qatar will also become a platform for the exchange of ideas and collaboration between countries, offering unique government-to-government (G2G) opportunities and possibility to work on horticultural projects of international scale.

The Expo will combine ‘thought-provoking’ aspects, highlighting the latest technological achievements and innovations, as well as ‘eye-catching’ elements that will attract visitors by the beauty and diversity of different landscapes and flora.

Qatar’s “Nest of the Desert” pavilion at Floriade Expo 2022 Amsterdam-Almere has welcomed tens of thousands of visitors. How will this experience shape the Expo 2023 Doha experience?

Mohamed Ali AlKhoori: Qatar’s pavilion at Floriade Expo 2022 has boosted the visibility of the country’s environmental innovations and has also served as a platform for Qatar to share its unique vision of sustainability, anchored in the culture and traditions of the Arabian Peninsula.

This was one of the first steps towards promoting the concept of green desert with a Qatari twist: the one that combines tradition, bold architectural choices, environmentally friendly solutions, and strong aesthetics. This concept is no better demonstrated by the pavilion’s ‘pigeon tower’. These are traditional structures, which for many years were a vital part of Qatari agriculture. What made these ones so special and unique was the fact they have been 3D printed and recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as ‘The tallest tower made of 3D-printed concrete’.

"The success of Qatar's pavilion at Floriade Expo 2022 is the perfect invitation to further explore Qatar's innovative potential and commitment to sustainable development"

At Expo 2023 Doha, Qatar, visitors will be sure to see more examples of combining tradition with modern techniques and materials. We consider the success of this pavilion as a perfect ‘invitation’ card to Expo 2023 Doha for thousands of visitors to further explore Qatar’s innovative potential and commitment to sustainable development in the desert climate.

Expo 2023 Doha will offer audiences even more opportunities to see Qatar and the world through the lens of sustainable development and innovative horticultural solutions. The event is set to widen the visitor’s understanding of the role of green desert for a better environment by showcasing that sustainable innovations – including in permaculture, vertical farming, hydroponic farming – can be successively introduced in the desert settings.

In a world anxious about the impact of climate change and environmental deterioration, we hope that, following in the footsteps of Floriade Expo 2022 Amsterdam-Almere, Expo 2023 Doha will offer visitors a vision of the future where technological achievements can support sustainable development, green cities, and green deserts.

After the FIFA World Cup, Expo 2023 Doha will be the second international event to be held in Qatar in less than a year. What will its legacy be for the people of Qatar?

Mohamed Ali AlKhoori: In many ways, Expo 2023 Doha, Qatar is the perfect continuation of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. Since being awarded the FIFA World Cup, Qatar placed sustainability high up on the agenda, and the tournament aims to be the first ever carbon-neutral World Cup. We have seen the introduction of innovations such as smart waste disposal practices, low-carbon public transport options including trams and the Metro, use of sustainable building practices, including recycling dismountable stadiums, and the planting of thousands of trees around stadiums and other green spaces.

Many of those innovations are here to stay well after the final whistle has blown. Expo 2023 Doha, Qatar will continue to deliver on the same mission – entrenching sustainable practices in Qatar and demonstrating how to deliver large-scale events that minimise environmental impact.

We believe that Expo 2023 Doha will continue to drive positive changes in Qatar and further afield, creating a truly global movement of integrating sustainability by design in all human activities, from events through to urban planning and agriculture. This approach is in line with Qatar National Vision 2030, and seeks to combine modern innovations with centuries-forged traditions.
Making sustainability central to Qatar’s long-term strategy and development will be a long-lasting legacy of the World Cup 2022 and Expo 2023 Doha, Qatar.

"Expo 2023 Doha gives Qatar a chance to show a different facet of its development strategy"

With Horticultural Expo 2023 Doha Qatar opening in one year, how are preparations advancing on the site? How is the vision transforming into reality?

Mohamed Ali AlKhoori: The truth is that we have been ready for this event for a very long time. The global pandemic forced us to postpone the event until 2023, which has given us plenty of time to prepare.

The infrastructure of the international zone is now close to completion, many people in Doha will have already seen the Expo House – our legacy building – taking shape. Seeing all the development that has already happened is very exciting.

Of course, with the World Cup at the end of this year, some construction will not start until the end of the tournament, so we expect the building of country pavilions to begin after the World Cup’s final. All contractors will be on board by the end of 2022 to kick-off in early 2023.

Expo 2023 Doha gives Qatar a chance to show a different facet of its development strategy, focused on innovation and the ability to successfully work with other countries and governments to build a greener world for the future generations.

We are looking forward to hosting our partners, international and domestic visitors at Expo 2023 Doha, Qatar. All visitors to the Expo will experience a unique blend of cutting-edge sustainable technologies and Qatar’s fascinating historical and cultural heritage.


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