Expo 2020 Dubai has opened along with the visitor experience at Alif – The Mobility Pavilion, where visitors are taken on a voyage through time and space to discover how people, goods, ideas and data are interacting in ever more complex ways. Bringing the story of global mobility to life, the Mobility Pavilion showcases the role the UAE and the entire Arab world has, and continues, to play in advancing human progress, in a journey that encompasses everything from ancient exploration to the Emirates Mission to Mars and beyond.
The visitor experience begins 4,500 years ago in Saruq Al Hadid, a settlement in the Dubai desert that had extensive relations with areas of the Gulf, the Levant and West Asia, demonstrating the enduring strategic importance of this region. Visitors are then invited aboard an elevating platform, which transports them to the House of Wisdom in ninth-century Baghdad.
Next, they will encounter nine-meter-tall (approximately 30-feet-tall) photorealistic figures from the Golden Age of Arab Civilization — including ancient navigator Ibn Majid and celebrated explorer Ibn Battuta — whose innovations helped drive forward global mobility throughout the centuries. The stories of these historical giants are used to explore the concept of mobility, its power and far-reaching influence, as well as highlighting innovations from the Arab region that have catalysed advances in human exploration and mobility.
The experience subsequently leaps forward in time to the 21st century, entering a virtual world brimming with data, before moving into the city of future, where visitors will be given a glimpse of where mobility may potentially evolve to in the years and decades to come.
Visitors will be shown the progress the UAE has enjoyed in the past 50 years, especially in mobility-related fields such as airlines, logistics and smart cities, extending into the solar system through the UAE’s space program and the Hope Mission to Mars.
Marjan Faraidooni, Chief Experience Officer, Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “Representing our desire to explore and progress, Alif – The Mobility Pavilion will take visitors on a journey of discovery, exploring new horizons and discovering how making connections, together with developing new technologies, is the basis for human progress.
“We are proud that this must-see pavilion celebrates the Arab world as a leading light in mobility across the ages, changing perceptions of what this region has achieved. We hope that visitors, especially young Arabs, will leave this experience inspired – realising that anything is possible, motivated to make a difference in our world and looking with optimism to a future when we connect and work together on a global scale.”
One of Expo 2020’s signature attractions, Alif – The Mobility Pavilion was made possible through the work of local and international collaborators. The UAE Space Agency and Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center provided expertise and content for the space segment. Global experience design agency MET Studio, decorated New Zealand movie and television creatives Weta Workshop and Academy Award-winning Los Angeles-based experience company Magnopus have also all worked with Expo 2020 to create the pavilion’s inspiring visitor experience.
The pavilion was designed by award-winning British architectural design and engineering firm Foster + Partners. Its ribbed and curved shape was devised to evoke movement, with its highly polished stainless-steel cladding inspired by chrome fenders and aircraft wings, reflecting movement from the surrounding areas.
The pavilion and its grounds feature a partly underground, partly open-air 330-meter (about 1,080-foot) track that allows visitors to see cutting-edge mobility devices in action, alongside an amphitheater and second stage, and a plaza around the building that will host mobility-related performances, events, symposiums and demonstrations.
Alif – The Mobility Pavilion is one of three Thematic Pavilions that explore Expo 2020’s key subthemes — Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability.