DUBAI: Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum was among the first visitors to enter the Expo 2020 Dubai site as it opened its doors to the public for the first time on Friday.
Visitors started arriving at the Dubai site the moment the gates opened at 10am, greeted by a series of performances from around the world in the Al Wasl Plaza.
And they were in good company as the UAE Vice President and Prime Minister toured some of the many pavilions on the site.
Sheikh Mohammed spent several hours touring the UAE, USA, China, and Kazakhstan Pavilions where he saw the various attractions.
Later he tweeted his appreciation of the event, writing: “Bringing together participants from 192 countries, @expo2020dubai paves the way for a new united approach to overcoming one of the most difficult periods in the planet’s history and forging a new path of sustainable development.”
Visitor numbers for the opening day have not been released, but organizers seemed quietly confident that it was a suitably busy day, despite smoldering temperatures that reached the mid 30s C.
Dubai resident, Gaurav Haldankar, said he had initially planned to visit the Expo site in 2020 when the event was due to open – but was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It’s amazing, I actually came and had no idea what to expect because I never read any article about the Expo. I wanted to surprise myself so I just bought the ticket, came here and wanted to explore things,” the Indian expat told Arab News.
The site’s promoters claim the Expo has something for everyone, including music, culture, art and wide array of technology – as well as selection of foods from around the globe sold in the various restaurants.
“I’m excited to see the new technologies here,” Dubai resident Gowtham Subramani said.
But he conceded that the vast site, the size of 600 football pitches, was far too big to appreciate in just one visit.
“The Expo is huge, for sure we will not be able to cover it all in one day. But we have the October pass, so we will definitely come here a lot.”
Expo announced on Sept. 23 the sale of the October Pass granting unlimited access to the Expo site for all of October for just 95 dirhams ($26).
Organizers of Expo 2020 Dubai say they are confident that the site will receive 25 million visits in its six-month lifespan, traveling from all over the world.
Martha Robeżnik Ljubljana, told Arab News she had traveled from Slovenia to see the Expo site.
“It is such a great experience. This is my fourth visit here in the UAE and that is because I love this country so much,” she said, adding that she also had initially planned to come in 2020 before the event was postponed.
UAE national, Budoor Abdullah Al-Dhaheri said the experience was exhausting, but worthwhile.
“It has been exhausting because we have been walking a lot, but there is lots of greenery here. There are lots of trees that we wouldn’t be seeing outside the Expo site.”
Temperatures in Dubai remain high during October, often reaching more than 40C, but the green areas and pavilions offer a large amount of shaded areas for visitors.
Visitors have been encouraged to upload the official Expo 2020 Dubai app which helps visitors make the most of the 182 days of the event.
And those visiting the Expo three times in October will also get a 100 AED ($27) food and beverage voucher that they can use on their next visit too, it said in an announcement.
The day will finish with a series of firework displays across Dubai to mark the first day of Expo.