Ideas and aims

The words of the organisers of the next World Expo say it all: “The engines of growth are no longer steam-powered. Instead, collaboration and partnership have taken its place, becoming the driving force behind new developments. Expo 2020 Dubai will showcase and explore what is possible when new ideas and people connect”. Over the course of 181 days, from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022, Expo 2020 Dubai will present innovations, share ideas and foster collaboration – in line with its overarching theme of “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”. World expos are, after all, about bringing countries, businesses, international organisations and millions of visitors together to consider the challenges facing today’s world and the ways in which they could be solved. They are designed to be a festival of human ingenuity.

In Dubai, the focus will be on three sub-themes of major significance for the world in which we live: opportunity, mobility and sustainability. They each present us with a difficult task but they also offer new perspectives on how we can change the way we live our lives to ensure a better, sustainable future.

Expo 2020 will be the first world expo to be held in the Arabic-speaking region and is set to attract the highest ever number of visitors from abroad. The number of visits to Expo 2020 is expected to be as high as 25 million, with around 70% coming from outside the United Arab Emirates. More than 200 countries, international organisations and companies will be represented in Dubai.


A brief history of world expos:

World expos have a history stretching as far back as 1851. That was the year of the first world exhibition, the “Great Exhibition of the Industry of all Nations”, held in the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park in the centre of London. The idea came from Queen Victoria’s husband, German-born Prince Albert. Since then, there have been 50 expos across the globe:
– 13 in North America (the last one in Vancouver in 1986)
– 27 in Europe (the last one in Milan in 2015)
– 8 in Asia (the last one in Astana, Kazakhstan, in 2017)
– 2 in Australia (the last one in Brisbane in 1988).

World expos have changed in character over the centuries. Originally, they were a showcase of industrial achievement, at which countries presented new technologies, such as the sewing machine (London, 1862), the telephone (Philadelphia, 1876) and the first escalator (Paris, 1900). Spectacular architecture also played a significant role, as in the Crystal Palace and the Eiffel Tower in Paris, which was built to mark Expo 1889.

Following the Second World War, the focus turned to rapprochement and bringing nations closer to one another again.

Today’s expos cast the spotlight on one global issue, providing a platform to discuss the challenges it brings and present solutions from the realms of science, business and culture. Examples include the 2000 World Expo in Hanover on the subject of “Humanity, Nature and Technology” and the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, with its “Better City, Better Life” theme. At Expo 2015 in Milan, the organisers and participants explored the subject of “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”.

Further information about the history of world expos can be found on the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) Website.