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What to see at Expo 2020 Dubai: Flash mobs, singing robots and self-driving cars

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With less than two months to go, the finishing touches are being applied to the groundbreaking Expo 2020 Dubai site as the United Arab Emirates prepares to welcome tens of millions of visitors from across the globe during the six-month extravaganza.

Expo 2020 is earmarked to become the biggest cultural gathering in the world, with 60-plus live events per day for 173 consecutive days, and hundreds of entertainment, cultural and culinary experiences.

Here are some of the top things to see.

Robots galore

From a robot ice cream vendor, Expo 2020 mascot Opti, a golden robot known as the guardian of the Opportunity Pavilion, and a Beethoven-inspired robo-band bringing the iconic works of music to life, robots will be a key feature at the World Fair.

Expo 2020 mascot Opti is a golden robot known as the guardian of the Opportunity Pavilion (Supplied: Expo 2020)
Expo 2020 mascot Opti is a golden robot known as the guardian of the Opportunity Pavilion (Supplied: Expo 2020)

Witness a flash mob

Flash mobs, pop-up-theaters, music-filled parades, street festivals and national day celebrations are among the entertainment line-up scheduled at Expo 2020.

At Al Wasl Plaza there will be music in the garden at 3pm every day, with international participants performing live music across all genres; you can expect to hear world fusion, choirs, and orchestras in traditional and contemporary music styles from around the world.

Late Nights at Expo will happen at 10.30pm daily on the Jubilee Stage, connecting artists and culture from around the world in musical performances that we can’t wait to see.

There will be a parade at Ghaf Avenue every day, with a vibrant colorful moving celebration, and roving entertainment that will perform different acts across the pavilions.

Taste the culinary experiences (including glow in the dark food)

With more than 20 celebrity chefs, and 200-plus outlets, Expo 2020 is a food-lover’s paradise. (Supplied: Expo 2020)
With more than 20 celebrity chefs, and 200-plus outlets, Expo 2020 is a food-lover’s paradise. (Supplied: Expo 2020)

From internationally acclaimed restaurants to regional specialties, superstar Chefs, Expo-exclusive eateries, street bites and food trucks, the mega-event, which boasts more than 200 food and beverage outlets serving 50-plus global cuisines, promises to be a foodie’s wonderland.

Among the highlights will be talabat Kitchen, an innovative, sustainable two-story cloud kitchen, which will showcase 10 autonomous delivery vehicles – including a robotic ice-cream confectioner and barista.

Meanwhile Epochal Banquet will serve numerous world firsts – from super-light delicacies formed using the same technique used by NASA to collect comet dust, to edible creations that glow in the dark, and flavor-changing desserts.

Many of Expo’s 191 participating countries will serve up authentic national dishes at their pavilions, and with exciting restaurants making their debut during the six-month spectacular, visitors can tuck into cutting-edge new dishes, sure-to-be signature favorites, and age-old recipes renewed and perfected by some of the world’s best chefs.

Visit a theme week

Expo 2020 will run 10 theme weeks throughout the 173-day program. These include climate and biodiversity, tolerance and inclusivity, travel and connectivity, space and food, among others.

An illustration of Dubai's Expo 2020 site. (Supplied: Expo 2020)
An illustration of Dubai's Expo 2020 site. (Supplied: Expo 2020)

Celebrate female change-makers

The Expo 2020 Dubai Women’s Pavilion, in collaboration with Cartier, has unveiled creative content and programming that will help reaffirm Expo’s commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment.

The pavilion is set to celebrate the important roles that women, known and unknown, have played throughout history and continue to play in the present day, based on the principle that when women thrive, humanity thrives.

Through its New Perspectives exhibition and a packed schedule of programming, the pavilion aims to inspire all who enter its doors to become change-makers, breaking stereotypes and deconstructing misconceptions on women’s roles, shedding light on how women and men have contributed to women empowerment and gender equality.

The pavilion features five structures with different narratives located on the ground floor: Introduction – expressing the purpose of the pavilion; Achievements – shining a light on women’s impact on the world; Challenges – acknowledging what is holding women back; Solutions – highlighting the initiatives enabling women to thrive so humanity can thrive; and Engaging with visitors – encouraging them to become champions of gender equality and women’s empowerment and take the journey forward.

UAE Golden Jubilee

One of the highlights of the six-month Expo will be the celebration of the UAE Golden Jubilee, marking 40 years since the nation was united. A month-long line-up of events is earmarked, starting from November.

Visit Michelangelo’s 3D double

A spectacular 3D replica of Michelangelo’s David (Supplied: Expo 2020)
A spectacular 3D replica of Michelangelo’s David (Supplied: Expo 2020)

A spectacular 3D replica of Michelangelo’s David will be revealed at the Italy Pavilion.

David’s “twin”, which unites history and innovation, follows months of painstaking work by artists and innovators. The full process included 40 hours of digital scanning of the original 16th-century marble artwork in Florence, the creation of a three-dimensional digital model with a resolution of 146 thousandths of a millimeter, and production by one of the world’s largest 3D printers, with hours of finishing touches completed by hand.

Based on the theme ‘Beauty connects people’, Italy’s Pavilion is located in Expo’s Opportunity District.

Witness a showdown between chess Grandmasters

The next FIDE World Chess Championship will be held at Expo 2020 Dubai and promises an enthralling contest that will delight chess fans and the wider public alike.

Organized by the International Chess Federation (FIDE), the postponed 2020 championship will see the reigning world champion, Magnus Carlsen of Norway, defend his title against the winner of the delayed Candidates Tournament, due to conclude in Ekaterinburg, Russia in April.

The showdown between the game’s finest Grandmasters highlights Expo 2020’s diverse and inspiring events calendar. It will take place between 24 November and 16 December 2021 at Dubai Exhibition center, with the two players competing for a prize fund of EUR 2 million (AED 9 million).

Experience indoor rainfall

Witness indoor rainfall in the Netherlands Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai thanks to technology SunGlacier, which produces water from air via solar power to irrigate crops. Likewise, the Solar Air Water Earth Resources (S.A.W.E.R.) system in the Czech Republic Pavilion produces up to 500 liters of drinking and irrigation water from the air using nothing but sunlight, even in the harshest desert environments

Marvel at Guinness World Record-breaking architecture

Shaped like a falcon in flight, the pavilion tells the story of the UAE as a global hub. (Supplied: Expo 2020)
Shaped like a falcon in flight, the pavilion tells the story of the UAE as a global hub. (Supplied: Expo 2020)

Creative and cutting-edge architecture will be on show Expo 2020 Dubai, including the falcon-shaped UAE Pavilion, the lantern-shaped China Pavilion, Saudi Arabia’s Pavilion which has broken three Guinness World Records - and the Republic of Korea Pavilion, whose design will constantly change through the clever use of rotating cubes.

Take a ride the world’s largest elevator

Explore how city life as we know it is being transformed by technologies like big data, robotics, machine learning and autonomous transport at the Mobility Pavilion – where you can also take a journey aboard the world’s largest elevator.

Watch the UAE’s first opera, performed in two languages

Witness the UAE’s first opera, as Expo launches ‘Al Wasl’ in October 2020. Performed in Arabic and English, the production will feature more than 100 artists and musicians – exploring the nation’s Bedouin roots and the UAE’s status as a modern multicultural hub.

Expo 2020 will take place from October 1, 2021 until March 31, 2022.

Read more:

Expo 2020 Dubai: The architectural wonders of Middle East pavilions

Emirates Airlines offers Dubai-bound passengers free Expo 2020 day pass

Dubai Expo 2020: Everything you need to know about the UAE mega-event