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Expo 2020 Dubai: 50 ways to celebrate the UAE’s Golden Jubilee at the World Fair

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With just over a week to go before the United Arab Emirates marks 50 years since its historic unification, Expo 2020 Dubai has announced 50 ways to mark the country’s Golden Jubilee.

Expo organizers have announced a month-long celebration packed with Emirati events, attractions and performances, with events celebrating calligraphy to pearl diving, the Bedouin lifestyle to the Dubai story, abayas to camel milk cafes, fireworks to Emirati food celebrations.

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Here are some of the top 50 things to do.

1) Visit the UAE pavilion

Crowds at the UAE Pavilion. (Supplied)
Crowds at the UAE Pavilion. (Supplied)

The UAE Pavilion is reminiscent of a falcon in flight and is inspired by the country’s national bird. Once inside, take a multisensory journey that chronicles the rise of a nation of “dreamers who do.” The pavilion boasts dunes of real sand and visitors can learn about the UAE’s nation’s founding father Sheikh Zayed, the natural wonders of the Emirates and their rapid modernization.

2) See the fireworks and an airshow at al-Wasl Plaza

Al-Wasl Plaza will host a number of events throughout the 50th celebrations, including parade of horses, a musical police band and a spectacular airshow.

3) See Emirati handicrafts at al-Meghzal

Al-Meghzal is a contemporary Emirati storytelling experience based on a conversation between a boy and his grandmother. It showcases the passing on of the heritage and wisdom of the past to the generation of the present and how Emirati handicrafts continue to inspire us today.

4) Visit a pop-up food experience at Saddle

Saddle is an Emirati-branded pop-up food experience, built around serving innovative food that’s sourced from all over the world. They are known for their specialty coffee, healthy breakfast options and home-made crepe recipes.

5) Visit the Alif - The Mobility Pavilion

In today’s hyperconnected world, mobility is more important than ever - so what better way to embody this than through a visionary structure that looks ready to take flight? With its space-age contours and awe-inspiring exhibits, Alif - The Mobility Pavilion offers visitors an immersive journey through the spectrum of human movement

6) Take the children to an Emirati ‘pillow fort’

Through this marble sculpture of the takiya, traditional Emirati floor pillows, Emirati designer Afra Aal-Dhaheri revisits moments of impromptu play. (Supplied: Twitter)
Through this marble sculpture of the takiya, traditional Emirati floor pillows, Emirati designer Afra Aal-Dhaheri revisits moments of impromptu play. (Supplied: Twitter)

Through this marble sculpture of the takiya, traditional Emirati floor pillows, Emirati designer Afra Aal-Dhaheri revisits moments of impromptu play. The massive scale materializes the comparison in size felt by a child when piling up a pillow tower or fort.

7) Witness a historical theatrical production

Take your children to hear a story about a young boy becoming a man and a horse that rediscovers her love for life. Visitors at al-Adiyat can learn how the boy and the horse is a tribute to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and an acknowledgement of his visionary character that delivered the dream of Dubai to its people during this 20-minute theatrical production.

8) Tour the Vision Pavilion

The Vision Pavilion at Expo 2020 celebrates the insight, values and leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Across three galleries filled with captivating exhibits, the pavilion explores the Dubai ruler’s personal story and celebrates the Emirati people and culture of Dubai.

9) Hear about the UAE’s ancestors at sea

Based on the Golden Jubilee theme of water, the ‘Expressions’ sea showcase looks to the UAE’s humble beginnings and takes visitors through a story of resilience - the story of the UAE’s ancestors at sea. Guests are immersed in a nostalgic trip to the past exploring the art of navigation and pearl diving and honoring the contributions of those who came before us.

10) Take a sip of Emirati coffee

Emirati homegrown brand RX harbors a vision of bringing people together through the power that lies in a cup of coffee.

11) Shop Emirati designs

ONOGRAM is a multidisciplinary design firm that aims to preserve and revive Emirati heritage, emphasizing on the values that made the people of the UAE what they are today.

12) Celebrate the UAE’s Golden Jubilee with Expo 2020’s Al Wasl Opera

Expo 2020's Al Wasl Dome in Dubai, UAE. (Twitter)
Expo 2020's Al Wasl Dome in Dubai, UAE. (Twitter)

As the UAE gears up to mark the Golden Jubilee celebrations, Expo 2020 Dubai is launching a landmark opera, in collaboration with Welsh National Opera (WNO), that honors thousands of years of UAE history, its achievements to date and its aspirations for the future. Al Wasl Opera’s premiere run takes place at Dubai Opera from December 16-19, making it the perfect opportunity to celebrate the nation’s remarkable 50-year journey of accomplishments through a unique artistic showcase.

13) See Emirati calligraphy

InkByAmna is a local, young business that reflects a passion for calligraphy. (Unsplash)
InkByAmna is a local, young business that reflects a passion for calligraphy. (Unsplash)

InkByAmna is a local, young business that reflects a passion for calligraphy and wax sealing, with a goal of providing a launching pad for beginners to start their journey in this field.

14) Learn about Emirati artisan culture

MENASA (“Platform” in Arabic) - Emirati Design Platform offers visitors an overview of the UAE’s vibrant artisan culture. Its bespoke collections are created with top local and international designers and explore six Emirati “Craft Stories”: safeefa, clay, talli, sadu, coffee and pearl. Each story leads you through the processes involved in crafting items, including woven baskets, sadu rugs and pearl-encrusted jewelry.

15) Taste UAE chocolate

A UAE homegrown brand, Cocoville caters to everyone. Being a local brand, Cocoville tends to have a greater understanding of local tastes and benefits from stronger community ties and cultural identities, resulting in a competitive edge

16) Visit Sameem, and hear about the UAE’s history

An open-air pavilion that takes you on a journey through time, where you can engage with Emirati storytellers, artists and artisans as things are built in real-time.

17) Visit a Majlis

Visit a majlis for “foala conversations.” The “foala” is something that falls at the very heart of Emirati tradition. It signifies the hospitality offered to guests as an expression of warmth and togetherness. Friendly and informal in nature, foala conversations often occur over a shared platter of home-made sweets, coffee and dates. In order to bring this timeless tradition to Expo 2020 Dubai, a number of pocket panels will manifest on Expo 2020 Dubai’s Majlis plots across the site.

18) Shop Emirati Haute couture

Amalfi Fashions, founded and designed by Dr. Amal Nasser, is the first Haute Couture Abaya shop in Sharjah. They curate designs that reflect both the modern and natural world.

19) Pick up a piece of Emirati jewelry

Hassa Jewelry offers the world pieces that are inspired by Expo 2020 Dubai. (Supplied)
Hassa Jewelry offers the world pieces that are inspired by Expo 2020 Dubai. (Supplied)

Hassa Jewelry offers the world pieces that are inspired by Expo 2020 Dubai as well as signature pieces showing the bond and love between the brand and horses.

20) Design an aircraft at Emirates pavilion

Discover the future of aircraft cabin design while designing your very own aircraft, experimenting with robotic arms and exploring the innovative metallic and composite materials of the future

21) Eat at one of the UAE’s first restaurants

Arabian Tea House is one of the first traditional Emirati restaurants. Opened in 1997, it remains a place where tourists and locals come time and again for a journey back to the city’s past and to explore its cultural heritage. They showcase Emirati cuisine to the world, prepared with original “grandma’s recipes” and create an ambience where people can come and experience Emirati hospitality.

22) See the Expo from Garden in the Sky

Garden in the Sky at Expo 2020 Dubai. (Twitter)
Garden in the Sky at Expo 2020 Dubai. (Twitter)

Make your way to the Garden in the Sky, where you can stand on its tree-lined upper deck more than 90 meters from ground level and get that perfect panoramic shot.

23) See how water, earth and fire combine to make the Expo 2020 water feature

Step inside the 14-meter-high walls of the Expo 2020 Water Feature and be mesmerized by the 360-degree immersive water, light and fire show, set to music curated by Game of Thrones composer Ramin Djawadi.

24) Visit the Majlis Cafe for camel milk beverages

The Majlis Cafe is the first camel milk cafe in the UAE. It is a holistic concept that reflects the elaborate sense of Arabian hospitality and culinary delights.

25) Eat at Tawa; an Emirati gluten-free cafe

If you don’t eat gluten or avoid it, confidently order at this Emirati homegrown brand knowing that everything’s prepared in a 100 percent gluten-free kitchen.

26) Shop Emirati fine jewelry

Hashi is a fine jewelry brand which crafts individual pieces with a nod to Emirati culture.

27) Visit a space city

The space city is a fun-filled immersive experience where visitors can bounce over nets in the “zero-gravity” chamber and power a rocket by jumping on energy-generating tiles. Embark on your own mission to Mars by hopping aboard a replica of the UAE’s Hope Probe

28) Shop Emirati perfume

Allover is a brand born in Abu Dhabi and offers a versatile range of uncompromised quality-oriented fragrances.

29) See Emirati-made sculptures

Distorted familiarities by Asma Belhamar is an installation confronts perspectives of nature and the built environment, marrying the two realities. (Supplied: Twitter)
Distorted familiarities by Asma Belhamar is an installation confronts perspectives of nature and the built environment, marrying the two realities. (Supplied: Twitter)

Distorted familiarities by Asma Belhamar is an installation confronts perspectives of nature and the built environment, marrying the two realities. It speaks to the distortion experienced commuting from mountainscapes to cityscapes, where the change from landscape to architecture and from topography to iconography feels like a journey through shifting scales and times. Also see the Plinth by Shaika Al Mazrou who embodies her esthetic language, which diverts materiality and creates dynamic forms with an interplay of tension and balance, demonstrating the artist’s intuitive, keenly felt understanding of materials and their physical properties.

30) Shop Emirati ceramics

RÈME is a two-person women-led Emirati ceramics business, started as a hobby in the heart of Abu Dhabi by Alyazia Al Mazrouei and Latifa Shaheen. Each piece is handmade and hand-painted, making no two pieces the same.

31) Get your Dubai Expo 2020 passport stamped

The Expo 2020 passport. (Photo Courtesy: Dubai Media Office)
The Expo 2020 passport. (Photo Courtesy: Dubai Media Office)

Looking for the perfect keepsake? Don’t forget to pick up your Expo Passport from the Official Store and get it stamped as you visit pavilions around the site.

32) Ride around the world on a carousel

Enjoy all the fun of the fair on Around the World, a classic Venetian carousel with hand-painted images of past World Expos.

33) Take you best selfie with an Emirati astronaut

If you love a selfie, pose for a space-age version in Emirati astronaut Hazza al-Mansouri’s space suit at Terra Auditorium and have your face beamed into his helmet’s visor.

34) Discover how food is grown in a UAE desert farm

Welcome to the farm of the future, which uses salt water and fish to grow crops. The Desert Farm makes the most of the three natural resources that are plentiful in the UAE – sun, sea and sand.

35) Watch Dubai Expo 2020’s night-time light festival

Every night after the sun slips below the horizon, the buildings and spaces come alive with projections and light installations to create a magical world of wonder and beauty.

36) Join an Isha prayer by seven award-winning Imams

As the night ushers in the final call to prayer, a spell of tranquility descends upon al-Wasl. Golden sand cascades down from above, giving shape to great marble pillars of gold and white, inspired by the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

37) Breathe Old Dubai’s spirit

Take a walk in the some of our charming alleys that are a true reflection of old Dubai.

38) Learn about sustainability

At Expo 2020, sustainability is an urgent, attainable reality, and Terra - The Sustainability Pavilion - is the proof. Both immersive exhibition space and exemplar of environmental self-sufficiency, Terra is a pioneering piece of architecture that pushes the limits of renewable design. The pavilion’s 130-meter-wide solar canopy converts sunshine into electricity for the exhibits below.

39) See the colors of the World Parade

Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the Dubai Expo 2020, on September 30, 2021. (Karim Sahib/AFP)
Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the Dubai Expo 2020, on September 30, 2021. (Karim Sahib/AFP)

The colors of the World Parade will welcome countries to Expo 2020 Dubai and treat audiences to a unique cultural fusion experience. It is a vibrant, colorful moving celebration featuring performers and musicians that radiates energy and brings a blast of fun to daytime visitors. Head to Ghaf Avenue at 12:45 p.m. each day to catch it.

40) Pick up one of Dubai’s best burgers

Fans of Dubai’s homegrown burger brand, High Joint, can now pick up their favorite juicy burgers at Expo 2020 Dubai. Located in the Mobility District in front of the Russian Pavilion, High Joint is now welcoming guests daily from morning through through the evening, and presents a menu of comprising the brand’s best-selling and most beloved burgers.

41) Check out a cool concept space

Homegrown hybrid cafe, Canvas by Coffee Culture, presents a curated array of dining, art and music at Expo’s Opportunity Pavilion. The versatile venue has been designed to inspire and ignite creativity and cater to the tastes of many.

42) Get a close-up look at what’s happening in the oceans

Walk in the tracks of mega elephants as you discover the story of Arabia, uncover the amazing network of roots and fungi that allow forest trees to communicate and meet a giant, angry fish whose body is being clogged by discarded plastic. All these and plenty more inventive experiences await at Terra – the Sustainability Pavilion.

43) Visit Hammour House’s community knitting workshops

Expo 2020 Dubai visitors are being encouraged to spend more time focusing on their minds, bodies – and fingertips – through the therapeutic powers of knitting. A one-of-a-kind community art project by Hammour House is tackling the Expo subtheme of sustainability, in an engaging and artistic way. Hammour House brings together different people, engaging schoolchildren, marine biologists, fishermen, community and art institutions to curate a stunning space with workshops and activations that spark creativity and stimulate positive action.

44) Help children embrace the Arabic language

Akwan is a platform that aims to instill the love of Arabic in children’s hearts through play and beautifully designed books and products.

45) Discover Dubai Expo 2020’s commitment to the site’s flora

The Expo site includes a 220,000-square-meter nursery behind the cultivation of more than 12,000 trees, including palms, more than 256,000 shrubs and thousands of flowering plants and herbs.

46) Hear from the all-women Firdaus Orchestra

The Firdaus Orchestra is a pioneering women’s ensemble developed exclusively for Expo 2020 under the creative direction and leadership of Oscar-winner A.R. Rahman. The composer is forging new musical paths with female musicians in the Arab world.

47) Join a jam session

Jalsat@Expo is an introduction to Arabic tradition, showcasing the welcoming spirit of the UAE and the essence of Expo’s connectivity.

48) Visit the Mission Possible – the Opportunity Pavilion

The Opportunity Pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020 aims to show how the international event can be a catalyst for renewed action to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. (Supplied: Expo 2020)
The Opportunity Pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020 aims to show how the international event can be a catalyst for renewed action to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. (Supplied: Expo 2020)

Expo 2020 envisions a future where every human can meet their basic needs for water, food and energy. At The Opportunity Pavilion, you will embark on a globe-spanning “Mission Possible” to help achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, showing how everyone has the power to make a difference.

49) Witness UAE’s next mode of travel – the Hyperloop

Enjoy the passenger experience of what it feels like traveling at high speed in this new sustainable mode of high-speed transport at the DP World Pavilion.

50) Pick up some Emirati furniture

Takkya is an Emirati furniture and home decor brand inspired by the authenticity of the Emirati lifestyle. They aim to conserve the priceless traditional ‘Takkya Cushion’ that is originally a back or a side cushion, used as a main funiture piece in the past. Incorporating elements from the original ‘Takkya’ such as embroidery, side ruffles, colors, fabrics and patterns, these are now repurposed into modern sofas, bean bags, dining chairs and mini cushions.

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