The Dubai Expo 2020 complex is so huge that there are 192 countries present here. I made an attempt to visit as many as I could, but given the time constraints, I had to let go of of some of the smaller pavilions.
Turkey, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Kosovo and several others were not ready the time I was there so they are not on the list. I also skipped out on some of the smaller ones dues to time constraints. There is a reason why the Dubai Expo 2020 is on for six months– you need time to explore everything in details.
In addition to the countries, there are three other main pavilions located at each of the three main entrances. It would be a good idea to visit these before moving on to the countries to get a good feel on what each district is about. These are:
Alif in the Mobility Pavilion.
Terra in the Sustainability Pavilion.
Mission Possible in the Opportunity Pavilion.
In addition to this, there are several others:
The Good Place
Holy See (Vatican)
The Water Feature
Garden in the Sky
All of the above ones will be talked about in the next post.
Here are the countries I went to:
(Note: I have written only the ones I felt most connected to. Doesn’t mean others are less important or anything. They are all equally worth visiting. However, the ones I have highlighted it what impacted me the most. Also, if you are short on time, visit the highlighted ones.)
4. Angola- I remember this pavilion made me want to dance like the Africans do- that’s how catchy their music at the entrance was. However, this symbol is known as Tshota, which is actually translated to Temple Building and is intended to work as a community space, court and reception space.
5. Antigua & Barbuda
7. Australia- this was the first one I went to when I started my exploration. The video presentation blew me away initially.
8. Austria- the one that surprised me the most. The exterior made me feel like as if I was seeing sand cones, but once inside, it was all about our senses and everything fell into place.
10. Baden-Württemberg House (Germany)- Germany is the only country to have two large pavillions. This one explored their technological innovations.
12. Bahrain- the one with the coolest interior. It’s one big hall with intersecting poles. Designed by a young Bahraini architect.
13. Bangladesh- the one I genuinely enjoyed exploring as my driver in Jeddah where I grew up is from Bangladesh. So I felt like as if I was visiting his home country.
14. Belarus- the one with all the cool electric vehicles and innovations. Do spend some time checking these out at the end of tour. Plus that electric tree was cool!
15. Belgium- the place to get warm waffles!
19. Brazil– LOVED this.
The local Brazilians asked me to take my shoes off and walk in the wading pool there. It felt amazing to be able to do that in the hot weather. I was the only one in the pool and truly gave off Amazonian vibes. Also took a little rest in their hammock.
21. Burkina Faso- truly loved speaking to the native woman here. She was super friendly and told me a lot about her country.
25. Central African Republic
27. China- China did exactly what I was expecting them to do. They are so advanced in all their technologies and they have showcased it all. Make sure to catch the drone show above their pavillion.
28. Colombia- this was a fun trip to Colombia. They have three video presentations and I really got a great feel for this country. At one point they asked us to play the drums so it became an immersive experience.
30. Costa Rica
31. Croatia- the one with the cool electric car to give Tesla competition.
32. Cuba- a fun place to be, plus the locals are so much fun to talk to- they even made me do the salsa dance.
34. Czech Republic- the one with cool rotating wall mirror and wall tiles that sparkle like diamonds. Innovative home products.
36. Dominican Republic
37. El Savador
38. Egypt- the famous mummy is displayed here. Very interesting experience in their round room to take in the sights and sounds of Egypt.
39. Estonia- don’t forget to try out the super super relaxing Zero gravity experience. You sit on a recliner, and put on headphones, which plays chill out music. The recliner actually tilts back and your legs up in the air– then the magic happens and you feel like you are floating on air– all inside a soundproof cabin. I made inquiries here to get one for my therapy office!
40. Finland- I really enjoyed standing in their outdoor space where I felt isolated from the entire expo complex. Shows how architecture and materials can create such a comforting space.
41. France- I was a little conflicted about my experience inside France but when I came to the end, I really enjoyed it. They have recreated the damaged Notre Dame cathderal. It was such a haunting experience but at the same time to see how much they love their national treasure to restore it back to its glory.
The one that made me realise how connected and united we are with each other than we realise which in turn made emotional. This was my favourite out of all these. I loved how innovating and creative they are in doing their part to create a more sustainable environment in the world. Their precision, their dedication, their ethics. However, what really blew me away was their final room….where we all sat on swings, and all swung together in the hall to create that feeling we can all come together to creat that change. I cannot explain to you here in writing what it was all about it for it has to be experience in person! They also give you name card with your personalised name, and each step of the way, your name pops up on the screen which gives you a feeling as if Germany cares about you.
46. Great Britain- a lot of people I know didn’t really enjoy GB’s pavilion. I had noticed that most people were not paying attention to the showcase that was displayed along the ramps going up and coming down. That’s where all the stories are. The inside is only understood when you talk to the local staff who will explain what their concept is. AI is indeed the future.-
50. Guinea Equatorial
52. Hungary- They are famous for their spas. There is a section where you can see through the binoculars the incredibly high number of spas in the region. To give off that feel, they have created a spa at the top and you are welcome to lie down in the cool ball pit and watch a super relaxing video played on the roof. I could have slept here.
53. India- I fell in love with India which I went to in 2014. The highlight for me at the pavilion was their floor on arts and culture, which showcased their arts, religion, people and culture.
55. Italy- make sure to catch a replica of Michelangelo’s statue of David. Fascinating stuff.
56. Iran- the one that confused me the most. They weren’t fully open to be honest but the placement of the showcases wasn’t well planned out.
57. Iraq- the one that was closed but they still stamped my passport.
58. Ireland- a short introductory video about their culture. The real stuff is happening after the show when you have a room with a live Irish band entertaining everyone!
59. Israel- the one with a live DJ (actually she’s pretend DJ) and encouraged us all to let our hearts beat together and unite.
Along with Germany, my other favourite pavilion. It was a 40 minutes wait time for a tour that took about an hour to complete. They give you earphones- rather cool ones that don’t go inside, but rather behind the ears- and the tour is narrated on it. Technology. Culture. Climate. Nature. All that Japan is doing to create a better and sustainable environment. Won’t spoil the rest of the show inside. Also, their restaurant is extremely popular. I am totally hooked on to Japan now!
62. Jordan- the one that connected me to my trip to Jordan as a fifth-grader. Loved how they recreated the feeling of walking through the mountain in Petra.
63. Kazakhstan- these people had a very impressive show at the end with a huge robotic arm and a very talented acrobatic artist. Shows how far technology can go. Also, they had a very talented band at the entrance that literally made people dance in the queue.
64. Kenya- Jambo! Habari Yako?!
66. Korea- this was one of the longer experiences. They give you wearable Samsung phones on which you create your avatar. Then there is a 30 mins tour inside/ outside the complex, and at various points you can take your selfies with the avatar. It was all about being able to integrate technology into everyday lives to make our lives easier and convenience.
71. Luxembourg- the one with a fun slide!
73. Malaysia- these people are geniuses. They have created an entire pavilion that has zero carbon emission. Talk about creating a healthy building!
78. Mexico- had some of the best video displays that were truly hallucinogenic!
79. Moldova- one of the friendliest people ever! Loved having conversations with them!
80. Monaco- the kaleidoscope presentation was actually a lot of fun to watch.
81. Mongolia- talking to the local Mongolian here was very inspiring and interesting. Their written script looks like Arabic but it’s actually read from top to bottom.
83. Morocco- the one country I’ve always wanted to visit. Part of my wish was fulfilled here but I still need to visit. Had lunch here on their opening day- lots of fun.
87. Netherlands- the umbrella experience, which was rather cool! A very unique and immersive experience.
88. New Zealand
The one that connected me to nature! They showcased their rivers which is their national resource. With huge walls, calming environment, and the sounds of waterfalls, this is truly a place to take a break from the noise outside and connect within yourself and nature. Loved it!
91. Norway- an extremely information showcase displaying how they are doing their part to save the oceans and sea life. At the end, there are some rather cool VR videos to experience.
92. Oman- Oman was all about their famous frankincense. They have a tree at the center of the hall.
The one that made me feel like I am home. It felt so amazing to be greeted in my own language. These people have done an incredible of showcasing Pakistan and the opportunities the country offers. Highlight for me was the hallway of mirrors (sheesh mahal) which was recreated from the famous Sheesh Mahal from Lahore fort. The exterior which is full of colored mirrors made me feel like as if it were a modern interpretation of the Mughal inspired mirrorworks.
94. Palestine- one of the most unique pavilion, in the sense that they transport you to Palestine through your five senses. Each stage of the way, you will see videos, smell typical scents of Palestine, hear the sounds, feel the elements. Very immersive experience.
96. Papua New Guinea
97. Peru- This felt like as if I were actually transported to their famous Amazon rainforest. The smells, the sounds, just overall a brilliant recreating.
I loved Poland. Their interiors felt like Ikea inspired furnishing, but turns out Polish people are big on their best natural resource: wood. The welcoming table at the entrance was indeed a spectacle to witness, and as the Polish staff explained, the table has many stories all representing a part of the Polish culture.
99. Portugal- the one country on my bucket list for years. Loved their experience here. Whetted my appetite to visit Portugal real soon!
100. Qatar- they somehow had the coldest pavilion! I literally spent fifteen minutes in there to take respite from the 40 degrees heat outside.
101. Romania- don’t forget to drink their large variety of water, including one with gold in it!
102. Russia- This was all about the medical advancement Russia has been making in various fields. The main hall was overpowered by this model of a brain that was sending out its neurotransmitters all across the room.
104. Saint Lucia
105. San Marino
106. Saudi Arabia
Just because Saudi was my home for 30 years, I loved being here! This is also the largest pavilion at Expo. Also the longest elevator here. They truly showcased their culture and how they want to progress forwards towards modernity.
107. Sao Tome
108. Serbia- I had no idea but Nikola Teslal is from Serbia! Mind blown! They had some funky clothes as well.
The other one that connected me to nature. The famous vertical garden of Singapore. Brilliantly executed with loads of various kinds of plants. and how Singapore it playing its part in preserving our world and the climate by returning to nature.
112. South Africa
I loved Spain! From the impressive digital art work to the exterior to the video presentation at the end about how we all are connected to each other. I was quite emotional at the end of that video. I wish I could somehow find that video and share it here but it’s exclusive for the Expo. Don’t forget to check out the hyper loop model of the train. here. I also loved having paella for lunch here.
114. Sri Lanka
115. St. Kitts & Nevis
117. Switzerland- the cable car experience through the alp was rather interesting. Don’t forget to get some Swiss chocolate here.
118. Sweden- one of the local Swedish staff calculated how I will die- of a heart disease in my 60s. This was based on their extensive research of such cases world over. Very technologically advanced in their work on medical health.
119. Syria- This was an exciting area for me to visit since I have always loved Syria. The final room is where they have tablets displayed, which has been created by Syrians world over specifically for the Expo.
121.Thailand- This was very theatrical for each room had one experience after another, including a water show. I loved the last part where saw a video presentation of all the foreigners who have made their home in Thailand. It literally made me want to move there too!
124. Turkmenistan- Their exterior was fascinating to see. The wooden patterns created to form a silhouette of a horse. Their main lobby felt like as if I were entering a presidential palace.
125. Tuvalu- the one with the cool local woman Tuvalu, which is a small island, and how they all watch Bollywood movies there! Had great fun talking to her!
128. United Arab Emirates
The flagship pavilion being the host country to World Expo. The wait time for 30 mins (I was unaware of the Smart Queue at this time). It’s an incredible journey inside to see how far UAE has come along. They have a lot of naysayers but I cannot take away the credit Dubai deserves for creating so much in such little time. The building is also cleverly designed like a falcon with open wings.
128. United States of America- I liked their idea of having people stand on a conveyor belt so there is no rushing through their showcases. It felt like being at a theme park. There is also a copy of the Quran which was owned by Thomas Jefferson.