Dubai Expo 2020 unveils mascots

The mascots are, (L to R), Opti, Rashid, Terra, Latifa and Alif. (Supplied)
Updated 26 September 2019

Dubai Expo 2020 unveils mascots

  • The Expo will be represented by five mascots, three of which are robots
  • They were created by a fully Emirati team

DUBAI: The official mascots of the Dubai Expo 2020 have been revealed during a colorful event at the Dubai World Trade Center.

The expo starts in October 2020, but the building work at the site near Dubai’s Jebel Ali is well underway and many of the pavilions have already been unveiled.

At Thursday’s event, that was attended by more than 200 people including international media and children from local schools, Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum appeared on stage as the mascots were introduced.

First there was an animation of the mascots, a narrative explaining their backgrounds, personalities and roles, there was a bang and then confetti fell, then the show was over.

The audience had waited the best part of two hours for the show that seemed to last just five minutes.

But in that short moment, the eyes of the many children lit up with excitement as they were introduced to the five mascots: Rashid, Latifa, Terra, Alif and Opti, were designed by a fully Emirati team.

Rashid and Latifa are two children who represent the Emirati population.

The remaining mascots are robot, each of which represent an Expo sub-theme, sustainability, opportunity and mobility.

“We made these characters ourselves, we know what Expo is and how we want to deliver the message,” Creative Director of Ceremonies Amna Abulhoul said during a press conference after the launch.

 “We created a world of characters, some don’t belong to a nationality, and some do… we want to show that we are one world,” Abulhoul said.

Finally, the Ghaf tree, Salama, will be “like a grandma,” to the characters Abulhoul explained, guiding and protecting them along their adventures.

The organizers will release a number of other episodes with the mascots, who represent the importance of family in Emirati culture, before Expo 2020 launches.

Dubai counts on pent-up demand for tourism return

Updated 11 July 2020

Dubai counts on pent-up demand for tourism return

DUBAI: After a painful four-month tourism shutdown that ended this week, Dubai is betting pent-up demand will see the industry quickly bounce back, billing itself as a safe destination with the resources to ward off coronavirus.

The emirate, which had more than 16.7 million visitors last year, opened its doors to tourists despite global travel restrictions and the onset of the scorching Gulf summer in the hopes the sector will reboot before high season begins in the last quarter of 2020.

Embarking from Emirates flights, where cabin crew work in gowns and face shields, the first visitors arrived on Tuesday to be greeted by temperature checks and nasal swabs, in a city better known for skyscrapers, luxury resorts and over-the-top attractions.

Tourism chief Helal Al-Marri said that people may still be reluctant to travel right now, but that data shows they are already looking at destinations and preparing to come out of their shells.

“When you look at the indicators, and who is trying to buy travel, 10 weeks ago, six weeks ago and today look extremely different,” he said in an interview.

“People were worried (but) people today are really searching heavily for their next holiday and that is a very positive sign and I see a very strong comeback.”

The crisis crushed Dubai’s goal to push arrivals to 20 million this year and forced flag carrier Emirates, the largest airline in the Middle East, to cut its sprawling network and lay off an undisclosed number of staff.

But Al-Marri, director-general of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, said that unlike the gloom after the 2008 global financial crisis, the downturn is a one-off “shock event.”

“Once we do get to the other side, as we start to talk about next year and later on, we see very much a quick uptick. Because once things normalize, people will go back to travel again,” he said.

The reopening comes as the UAE battles stubbornly high coronavirus infection rates that have climbed to more than 53,500 with 328 deaths.

And as swathes of the world emerge from lockdown, for many travelers their holiday wish lists have shifted from free breakfasts and room upgrades to more pressing issues like hotel sanitation and hospital capacity.

With its advanced medical facilities and infrastructure, Dubai is betting it will be an attractive option for tourists.

“The first thing I’m thinking is — how is the health-care system, do they have it under control? Do I trust the government there?” Al-Marri said. “Yes they expect the airline to have precautionary measures, they expect it at the airport. But are they going to a city where everything from the taxi, to the restaurant, to the mall, to the beach has these measures in place?”

Tourists arriving in Dubai are required to present a negative test result taken within four days of the flight. If not, they can take the test on arrival, but must self-isolate until they receive the all-clear.

While social distancing and face masks are widely enforced, many restaurants and attractions have reopened with business as usual, even if wait staff wear protective gear and menus have been replaced with QR codes.

“When it comes to Dubai, I think it’s really great to see the fun returning to the city. As you’ve seen, everything’s opened up,” Al-Marri said.