Dubai’s long-awaited Expo 2020, now unofficially rechristened Dubai Expo 2021 is set to welcome the world from 1 October 2021. Like the Japanese whose Olympic hosting had to be moved due to the ravaging impact of the Coronavirus; the people of Dubai have shown a determination to host the most accessible and inclusive World Expo in history.
Such firm determination and pledge is against the background that Dubai Expo 2021would become the first event of its kind in the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia region; and the first World Expo to receive the International Board of Sensory Accessibility (IBSA) certification.
This historic recognition was presented to Expo 2020 by Sensory Access, which is the body responsible for assessing Expo’s accessibility measures, at an event to mark World Autism Awareness Day (2 April), held at Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion.
The award of this certification came from the many innovative measures that the Dubai Expo organizers have put in place to ensure that the event is not just world-class, but also the most inclusive Expo ever held. Some of the innovations that helped secure the certification are four on-site Quiet Rooms for visitors experiencing sensory overload or anxiety, downloadable social stories from the Expo website that share sensory information on the wide array of visitor experiences, and ‘Sunflower Lanyards’ for those who wish to discreetly signal that they have a hidden disability.
Other features set to be introduced include the PODium app, developed in collaboration with SAP, an Official Premier Partner of Expo 2020, designed to help people of determination navigate Expo, with features such as 3D visual mapping, audio navigation, and haptic feedback; 3D tactile models of Expo’s flagship architecture; scannable codes for self-guided experiences narrated through sign language, audio description and written captions; hearing induction loops; and service dog relief areas.
While the Expo is billed to last for six months; the organizers, however, plan for the benefits that would accrue from the event beyond the six-month period. Expo 2020 aims to create long-term opportunities for the UAE’s people of determination, working in collaboration with the Ministry of Community Development on meaningful employment opportunities that build their professional skill sets and work-experience portfolios.
Though the world continues to grapple with the realities of the coronavirus as it continues to cast its foreboding shadow over major world events; Expo 2020 officials are however giving assurances on the precautionary measures that are being put in place to protect the health, well-being, and safety of all visitors, with more measures planned to develop in line with the latest guidance of the UAE Government and the world’s leading medical, science and health experts; including the Expo 2020 committee’s plan to provide vaccines to all official representatives of participating countries; even as they prepare to host participants from across the globe for the final International Participants Meeting (IPM), which will be hosted in Dubai from 4-5 May 2021 and will see participating countries review progress and visit their pavilions on the Expo site.
With barely six months to the commencement of this global event; Dubai Expo 2020, promises to be one that will provide all its participants a once in a lifetime experience; not just of what Dubai has to offer now, but also what the city and its authorities under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum – President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority; Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline & Group; and Chairman of the Expo 2020 Dubai Higher Committee – promise for the future.
There is no question that this expo will provide new insight on everything that is possible in and with Dubai for people who are not afraid to take on the impossible, as shown by the launch of the Hope Probe into Mars orbit. In reality, it is almost certain to reintroduce Dubai to the world in ways we haven't seen before!