Expo 2020 Dubai is largest & most diverse World Expo ever

/ New Delhi
/ Events
In an interview with India Outbound, Sumathi Ramanathan, vice president, Market Strategy & Sales, Expo 2020 Dubai, talks about the activities lined up and the expectations in terms of visitors.
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Sumathi Ramanathan, vice president, Market Strategy & Sales, Expo 2020 Dubai

Sumathi Ramanathan, vice president, Market Strategy & Sales, Expo 2020 Dubai

With days to go before it opens, what is the overall picture of the Expo 2020 Dubai? How many countries and how many exhibitors are participating and what is the number of visitors you expect, both local and from overseas?

For the first time in World Expo history, every participating country will have its own pavilion and we look forward to welcoming more than 200 participants, including 192 countries, as well as multilateral organisations, businesses and educational institutions, plus millions of visitors – for the largest and most diverse World Expo ever. Expo 2020 will be an incredible experience for explorers, foodies and culture enthusiasts, young people, entrepreneurs, thought-leaders, businesses, governments and more. Visitors will be able to explore their favourite countries, explore new destinations and savour a spectacular world of entertainment ranging from world-class music, dance and art to insightful talks and vibrant National Day celebrations.

What has been the impact of the pandemic on the number of countries participating as well as that of exhibitors? Or have they reduced their exhibition spaces?

Everyone involved in Expo 2020 Dubai remains firmly committed and all 192 countries remain steadfast in their aim to come together to work towards a brighter future.

In the wake of the global Covid-19 pandemic, the health, wellbeing and safety of everyone visiting the UAE and Expo 2020 continues to be our utmost priority and we closely follow guidelines from the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP). Dubai has taken a gradual and phased approach to reopening tourism and the DHA has issued stringent health and safety guidelines based on international best practice to address the key touchpoints for visitors and residents during their stay. The UAE is making excellent progress, with more than 18 million vaccine doses administered to the population, as of September 2021.

By taking a responsible approach supported by appropriate precautionary measures, Dubai and Expo 2020 will remain must visit destinations. We are incredibly excited to welcome the world to Expo 2020 from October 1.

How has Covid-19 changed the exact roll-out and daily activities that you had planned during the Expo?

The pandemic has put our commitment to the health, safety and wellbeing of our staff, participants and visitors even more sharply into focus. We have acted quickly to meet the challenges of Covid-19, developing a comprehensive strategy and robust operational plans, in line with the latest information and guidance from local and international authorities, including DHA, MOHAP and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

On-site measures include the installation of sanitisation stations, with Dettol, Expo’s Official Hygiene Partner, providing no-touch hand-sanitiser stations at all entrance and departure gates, pavilions and restaurants. Face masks are mandatory and stringent social-distancing regulations are in place, as well as increased deep cleaning and specialised medical facilities, including provisions for rapid Covid-19 testing. We have also brought to the fore the use of applied technology, including robots and wearable technology to assist us with visitor-facing interactions such as ticketing, queue management, crowd flow and capacity monitoring, and health monitoring.

At the beginning of 2021, Expo 2020 launched an extensive Covid-19 vaccination drive for all Expo 2020 employees and their households. The offer of free vaccinations has also been extended to all Expo’s official participants and their staff. During event time, all Expo and international participant staff, volunteers, contractors and service providers must be vaccinated. The pre-booking of tickets, online ticket purchases and cashless retail and F&B purchases will be highly encouraged to control capacity and visitor flow.

What are the key highlights during the duration of the Expo?

With up to 60 live events each day, all day, Expo 2020 will be a 182-day feast for the senses, featuring an array of internationally celebrated names, together with 50-plus global cuisines from 200 F&B outlets and thousands of events from music, dance and art to inspiring poetry and insightful talks.

Al Wasl Plaza, Expo’s iconic centrepiece which features the world’s largest 360-degree projection surface, is the focal point for celebrations during Expo 2020. Expo 2020’s stellar entertainment line-up brings you Oscar-winning composer AR Rahman’s pioneering women’s ensemble, the Firdaus Orchestra, Bollywood sensation Sonam Kapoor, and one of the Arab region’s most celebrated singers, Ragheb Alama, together with a host of international dance, theatre, musical and cultural performances.

Promising to be a hive of heart-racing, endorphin-elevating activity, with its amplified sports and wellness programme, Expo’s Sports Fitness and Well-being Hub will give visitors the opportunity to participate in a range of activities as well as to meet their sporting heroes.

Through Expo’s Programme for People and Planet, participants will explore solutions to fundamental global challenges such as climate change, equal access to education and healthcare, and bridging the digital divide, with visitors from all over the planet are invited to join the making of a new world as they explore new frontiers, embrace the opportunities of tomorrow and discover life-changing innovations that can have meaningful, positive impacts on our planet and its people.

With a total of 192 country pavilions as well as thematic and landmark pavilions, visitors can discover the world in one place at Expo 2020 Dubai.

How many visitors as well as exhibitors do you expect from India? How are you planning to promote the Expo in India? Some numbers would be good here.

Given India’s proximity and the large Indian diaspora in the UAE, India is undoubtedly a key market for Expo 2020, and visitors from around the world will be blown away by the striking India Pavilion, reflecting ‘new India’ and showcasing the strengths of the country’s human resources and the aspirations of its youth.

Expo 2020 has identified and engaged more than 2,500 Authorised Ticket Resellers (ATRs) – including travel agents, online travel companies, airlines and hotels – from key source markets worldwide. India-specific ATRs include Akbar Travels, Make My Trip, Yatra, Book My Show, Thomas Cook/SOTC, and Ease My Trip. Working closely with this global network, Expo 2020 not only aims to make tickets more accessible to people everywhere, but also to facilitate the creation of value-added travel packages for international visitors, enabling them to experience the best of Expo 2020 according to their budget and preferences.

Emirates and Emaar Hospitality, two of our official partners, are key players in the in the travel and hospitality industry, and are working alongside us to ensure as many visitors from around the world experience our exceptional Expo.

Expo 2020 Dubai has become the Principal Sponsor for the Rajasthan Royals, for the 14th Indian Premier League (IPL) season, which began in India on April 9, 2021, and resumed in September in the UAE. As part of the association, Expo 2020 Dubai has appeared on the front of the Rajasthan Royals’ jersey, helping to spread the Expo 2020 message to millions of cricket fans all over the world. We are also actively collaborating with several organisations in India to drive awareness of Expo 2020.

In June 2021, Expo 2020 and City Football Group kicked off a partnership that includes Expo 2020 becoming Official Partner of Indian Super League champions Mumbai City FC.

The India Pavilion is in the Opportunity District, with the theme ‘Future is in India’. Building on the country’s culture, heritage and technologies, including its space programme, it will reflect ‘new India’, showcasing the strengths of its human resources and aspirations of its youth.

The pavillion will be a place that will define the country’s potential to become a global power through its ‘Five Ts’ – talent, trade, tradition, tourism and technology. It aims to highlight India’s strength in innovation and start-ups in tech industries, such as artificial intelligence and fintech, as well as tourism and hospitality, space, pharma, IT, renewable energy and telecoms.

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