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Mobility at Expo 2020 

Mobility at Expo 2020 

There’s been a lot of talk about Expo 2020’s commitment to building a cleaner, safer, and healthier world for everyone. In the previous deep dives, we’ve explained how Expo plans to achieve this ambitious goal by fostering sustainable measures and creating opportunities for future generations. In this third (and last) deep dive on Expo 2020, we’ll explain how Dubai’s world exhibition intends to achieve a brighter future by creating a more efficient and effective movement of people, goods, and ideas — physically and digitally. In other words, this means that we will be talking about Expo 2020’s mobility sub-theme. So, without further ado, let’s dive into it.        

Alif — the Mobility Pavilion 

For those of you who are not Arabic speakers, “Alif” is the first letter of the alphabet and symbolizes the beginning of progress and new horizons. That’s exactly what the mobility pavilion at Expo 2020 wants to represent: a chance to escape the limits of today and embrace the opportunities of tomorrow through the exploration of new frontiers. Pretty deep, right?     

The mobility pavilion at Expo 2020 is centered around the different ways in which new advances in transport and travel can accelerate humankind’s progress. The pavilion itself is a feat of human ingenuity and creativity. Its ribbed and curved shape was designed to evoke movement, while its highly reflective stainless-steel cladding was inspired by chrome fenders and aircraft wings. The external body of the pavilion reflects movement from people, the surrounding areas, and light to make the building always seem alive and in motion — not in a Frankenstein kind of way, but more in a poetic sense (in case you were wondering). 

The mobility pavilion was designed by the British architecture and engineering firm Foster + Partners, which prides itself on being at the forefront of innovation in terms of supporting the circular economy and low carbon usage. They’ve utilized photovoltaic panels on the roof to exploit the most out of solar energy, as well as metal cladding to reflect heat in the most scorching months of the exhibition (hopefully over by now). The pavilion is also designed in such a way as to “self-shade” and guarantee minimum water usage. The design also carries a deeper and more philosophical meaning. The visible lines of the building’s layers stand to suggest how deeply we are all connected as humans, even when we are physically apart – something especially touching after emerging from a global pandemic. Needless to say, all of this attention towards the sustainability of the pavilion guaranteed Alif a LEED Gold Standard in energy and environmental design.                 

Now, when it comes to wowing” Alif doesn’t disappoint. If you’ve ever visited the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, you know what a crowded elevator is. Well, you may have to re-evaluate your opinion on what “crowded” actually means after you visit the mobility pavilion at Expo. Alif features the world’s largest passenger lift – which can carry more than 160 people at a time. The platform will carry visitors around the different floors of the pavilion, immersing them in captivating and interactive experiences focused on the mobility of the future. Pretty cool, huh? …learning about the future of mobility, while literally standing on a platform from the future. To top it off, the moving platform is integrated with an open-air 330-meter track on which different innovative mobility devices circulate.  

Desert folks have been traveling for a while now 

The House of Wisdom section inside the mobility pavilion perfectly captures the pivotal role that Arabs played in the advancement of human progress. This section features the most famous and respected personalities from the Golden Age of Arab Civilization. They include Ahmad bin Majid (aka the Lion of the Sea) and Ibn Battuta (no, not the mall – a Moroccan explorer who covered nearly 120,000km in his lifetime).  

The House of Wisdom takes visitors on a journey through the history of mobility and exploration from an Arab perspective. From ancient explorations of the Gulf region, to the first pearl trade routes, and finally to the recent exploration of Mars and the upcoming Venus mission. Years go by, but Arabs keep on playing a fundamental role in the advancement of mobility, both in terms of findings and technologies.

Emirates Pavilion 

We cannot talk about mobility in Dubai without talking about Emirates. Instead of placing it inside the UAE’s pavilion, Expo 2020 gave Emirates an independent four-floor pavilion. This gesture goes to demonstrate how important of a role the Dubai airline will play for the city, the country, and the entire globe going forward — kind of like the Avengers.           

The Emirates pavilion is one of the most interactive. There is so much to see, feel, touch, and do. An example is the immersive AI experience that simulates a flight on an Emirates aircraft of the future – a good idea if you long for a trip but can’t actually leave the UAE. But, at the Emirates pavilion, you won’t just experience what flying will be like in the future, you will also be able to create your very own aircraft of the future. You will have various wing, fuselage, and engine choices to develop your ideal aircraft design while learning about cutting-edge biometric technology that will facilitate travel. 

The pavilion will also simplify complex aerodynamics and aviation terminology so that your average Mohamad can understand “physics” principles of air travel. If you didn’t like physics in high school don’t worry, Emirates made the interactive lectures simple and interesting enough by always reconnecting them to the next generation of aircrafts. 

Lastly, Emirates set up a Future Lab inside its pavilion to allow visitors to experiment with robotic arms on futuristic metallic and composite materials. These materials will be used in the aircrafts of tomorrow to offer a more efficient and effective flying experience, together with a lighter weight and greater power. If you’ve never touched the outside of an airplane, this is your chance to do so in preview – before the materials are even assembled into an airplane!

why it matters

Mobility is the last piece of the Expo 2020 puzzle — a piece that is necessary for the realization of Dubai’s vision to connect minds and create the future. The themes that we’ve taken you through over the last three weeks (shout out to sustainability and opportunity!) weren’t random, but rather, selected because they are a perfect fit with each other and they work in unison to create a brighter and more prosperous future for all of mankind.