Expo 2020 – Sustainability Pavilion Preview

April 6, 2021

Ever since I first arrived in Dubai in 2017, I heard a lot of about Expo 2020, the biannual world fair taking place in Dubai in 2020. Unfortunately due to COVID it is now happening October 2021 to March 2022 but the name remains the same!

Therefore, I was delighted to get to visit Terra, the Expo 2020’s sustainability pavilion last weekend. After a year of COVID-19 and multiple lockdowns, I relished seeing visitors enjoying themselves. Also, as the proud owner of a geography degree it was great to see how important geography is in sustainability with my key takeaways below.

COVID-19 Precautions

There were a range of COVID-19 precautions including; pre-booking to limit visitor numbers, thermal scanning on arrival, mandatory mask wearing and all staff wear a badge to show they have been vaccinated. There were plenty of hand sanitizing stations all with solar panels across the site.

COVID-19 Sanitising Station

Sustainability has been incorporated into Terra’s design with > 1,050 solar panels tracking sun’s movements to generate energy on-site.

Solar Panels across the site


Throughout the Expo, there were also many games available to engage visitors on sustainability and the implications of the world’s current consumerist lifestyle. There were a number of binary choices and the scoreboard showing the running tally had some interesting insights such as

Would you save Earth (68%) or escape to Mars (32%).

Have a mobile phone (38%) or give up your mobile phone to save a rainforest you will never see (62%)

Travel the world for 10 years but never see your home (58%) or never leave your country (42%). I don’t think this last fact is surprising given the past year of lockdowns and travel restrictions!

Games a plenty at Expo 2020

Challenges of consumption

Plastic waste was a key theme and the sheer scale of plastic bottles in the exhibition did make me rather depressed about the scale of plastic in the ocean.

Biodiversity loss

The rather dire future predictions of a world in crisis were alleviated by some success stories. I particularly liked the Arabian Oryx. The animal was once extinct in the UAE has now been successfully reintroduced back to its last wild home thanks to an initiative led by Sheikh Zayed, Environment Agency, Abu Dhabi and regional partners.


At the end of the exhibition there is a fantastic café which I highly recommend for a coffee or even a ginger shot. In keeping with the sustainability theme recycling bins, like COVID-19 sanitisation stations are very prevalent.

Recycling is a prevalent theme throughout the site

It is definitely worth a look if you are in Dubai. The previews closes on 12th April but the Expo 2020 will be open from 1st October 2021.

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