After a year-long delay due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the opening ceremony for the eagerly-anticipated Expo 2020 Dubai is now just days away.
The show will be a breath-taking curtain-raiser featuring hundreds of performers in a 90-minute spectacular designed to change the way people around the world see Dubai and the wider United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Ahead of the launch, Amna Abulhoul, executive creative director, events and entertainment, Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “The opening ceremony is a breath-taking experience.
“It is not something that I can explain through words.
“It will trigger something inside you, something that will make you feel that you are ready to change the world.”
Dazzling costumes and projections will reflect the diverse nature and landscapes of the UAE, while the entire ceremony personifies the expo themes.
The purpose is to connect minds and create the future, with more than 1,000 performers and technical crew, drawn from the UAE and around the world, coming together to make the magic happen.
The ground-breaking ceremony will be broadcast to a global audience of millions across multiple channels, including Expo TV.
Kate Randall, vice president, ceremonies and programming, Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “Expo is all about bringing the world together and that is definitely represented in our opening ceremony - the cast, the crew all of the team that have worked on it also become like family, because we work so hard together for many months, for some of us many years, to bring the show to fruition.”
Using music, dance, drama and projection, the ceremony will give audiences around the world their first experience of Expo 2020’s beating heart, Al Wasl Plaza – demonstrating the cutting-edge technology that will bring Al Wasl dome, the world’s largest 360-degree projection screen, to life.
Tareq Ghosheh, chief events and entertainment officer, Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “What you will see here is something huge, it’s a hybrid story of local talent working with some of the best creative and technical people.
“We will send a message to the world that tomorrow is better, that future generations are going to have a very optimistic and successful life, that we when we work together as human beings we can save this planet, and we can prosper as well.”
Ghosheh added: “It is an experience that the world has never seen before in terms of the number of creative minds and capable technical people working together in order to produce this event in this format – whether for a live audience or for broadcast.”
With Expo 2020 the first event of its kind to be held in the Middle East, Africa and south Asia region and the largest event ever in the Arab world, the show is a huge moment of pride for the UAE, kickstarting 182 days of celebration in the year of the golden jubilee.
Randall continued: “We are incredibly proud of our Emirati performers participating in the Opening Ceremony.
“For a lot of them this is the first time they will have had the opportunity to do something like this on the world stage.”
The ceremony will take spectators on an incredible journey across expo sub-themes of opportunity, mobility and sustainability, showcasing the deep-rooted values of the UAE and the vision and purpose of the event, while welcoming the mega-event’s 192 participating countries in spectacular fashion.
An incredible roster of international, regional and home-grown talent is set to perform at the event.
Spectators will enjoy a masterful display of stunning visuals, music and performances, as some of the world’s most creative minds, internationally renowned artists and emerging talents come together in a dazzling, ground-breaking performance that will be shared with audiences around the world.
Among those slated to perform are world-famous tenor Andrea Bocelli; Grammy nominated, Golden Globe-winning actress, singer and songwriter Andra Day; platinum selling British singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding; international mega-star pianist Lang Lang; and four-time Grammy winner Angelique Kidjo.
Highlighting the creative diversity and talent of the region, the glittering line-up also includes the ‘Artist of Arabs’ Mohamed Abdo, much-loved Emirati singing sensation ‘Fananat Al Arab’ Ahlam Alshamsi; Emirati artist and Expo 2020 Dubai ambassador Hussain Al Jassmi, a trendsetter on the Khaleeji music scene in the Middle East and Internationally; rising UAE singer-songwriter Almas; and Grammy-nominated Lebanese-American singer Mayssa Karaa.
Behind the scenes, preparations have brought together creative minds from different geographies, industries and backgrounds, including a talented in-house team of Emirati and international creatives, with event organisers not only commissioning, but also actively co-curating and co-producing the collaborative spectacle.
The wider team is led by Scott Givens, executive producer and chief executive of FiveCurrents, whose credits include 62 iconic ceremonies, including the most Olympic ceremonies ever, and includes Franco Dragone, acclaimed artistic director of ground-breaking productions such as La Perle and Cirque du Soleil, and Jared Sweet, award-winning creative director behind ceremonies spanning six countries.
The first event of its kind to take place ‘in the round,’ the audience will be at the centre of the show as it unfolds, with the revolving stage, stunning surrounds and immersive technologies coming to life around them.
The ceremony will also serve as an important opportunity to demonstrate commitment to the health, safety and well-being of its staff, participants and visitors as it brings the global community together for one of the first times since the onset of the pandemic.
Amid renewed demand for international travel as Expo 2020 Dubai prepares to welcome millions of visitors to the largest global gathering since the start of the pandemic, organisers have also announced enhanced entry measures to ensure a safe and exceptional event.
Visitors aged 18 and above will be required to present proof of any vaccine recognised by their national government or a negative PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours.
Non-vaccinated ticket-holders who have not been tested within this period can test at the PCR testing facility adjacent to the Expo 2020 site.
Moving forward, a network of testing centres across the city will be available and can be found on the Expo 2020 website.
Reem Al Hashimy, director general, Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “The UAE continues to drive the global tourism recovery, and Expo 2020 Dubai will be the only global gathering of this size and cultural diversity since the start of Covid-19.
“By updating our vaccination and testing requirements, we are opening up a world of discovery and education for every visitor from every corner of the planet, enabling the world to experience Expo 2020’s incredible offering in a safe and secure manner.”
She added: “As we prepare to welcome tourists to the UAE and visitors to Expo 2020, we need to build on our successes in combating Covid-19, where we have seen a decline of nearly 84 per cent in cases in the past eight months.
“Our commitment to the health and safety of all visitors, participants and staff will remain our number one priority.
“We will continue to follow the guidance of the leading science and medical experts, adjusting our measures as appropriate in our commitment to hosting an exceptional experience that all the world can enjoy.
“This enhanced measure is responsible, agile and necessary as we prepare to open our doors to the world.”
Running from October 1st to March 31st next year, Expo 2020 Dubai will feature the best of art, music, architecture, technology and culture from around the world.
From an adrenalin-boosting sporting programme, to the jaw-dropping outdoor night-time light festival kaleidoscope, to gathering the brightest minds for the Programme for People and Planet, there is something for visitors of all ages and interests – and one visit will not be enough.
Find out more on the official website.