Our Expo visit: keeping a pulse on the industry

The World Expo in Dubai was held under a very special star: it represented the prelude and hope for the relaunch of an entire industry. The «mother of all events» is also an indicator of innovation in the LiveCom industry. For us, these were reasons enough to travel to the Expo and feel the pulse of the times. An inspiring visit that gave us confidence.

By Juri Camagni

It should be pointed out straight away that we at Messerli are enthusiastic exhibition visitors by profession and never miss an opportunity to be inspired and motivated. We are always fascinated by the creativity and inventiveness of our Expo colleagues from all over the world. Expo 2020 in Dubai was certainly unique in this respect, as was the quality of the implementation.

As the first World Expo in an Arab country, it was able to meet or even exceed the expectations of many visitors. Along with 192 other countries, the desert state presented itself to a record number of 20 million visitors, in line with the theme «Connecting Minds, Creating the Future». There was a very exuberant, cosmopolitan and optimistic mood among the international audience. The relief that major events can take place again was visible on the beaming faces – even if they were still hidden behind a mask.

Sustainability, mobility and opportunities as a leitmotif

Admission to the World Expo was via the congress centre, directly connected to the metro, or through one of three themed portals at the extremities of the site, which covered an area of 220,000 square metres. Three architecturally fascinating, themed pavilions welcomed interested guests and invited them to discover interactive, immersive content. The topics of sustainability, mobility and opportunities were conveyed in an impressive and eventful way, incorporating modern technology.

The centrally located plaza with the Al Wasl Dome formed the heart of the event, acting as a meeting point and stage for numerous performances by international artists. The projections in the dome created a very special atmosphere, especially at nightfall, which visibly fascinated young and old alike. The numerous infrastructures and services for visitors, as well as the clearly laid out route in the shade, ensured a pleasant stay in the summer temperatures. We enjoyed moving around the grounds and were able to visit a large number of pavilions with relative ease and discover a great deal.

Storytelling and haptics versus media technology

We were surprised that this year’s Expo did not incorporate any ground-breaking new technologies. This was probably partly due to the standstill during the pandemic. However, there were many fascinating interactions that connected content in terms of medium, and above all with a haptic component. This combination was most convincing and created lasting impressions and experiences for visitors. This provided further proof that content, staging and the actual story must be placed above technology. The content of certain 360-degree large-scale projections was not convincing, which amounted to a missed opportunity in front of a large audience.

World Expo: quo vadis?

Dubai, as the capital of superlatives, also transferred its spirit to the World Expo. As expected, everything was perfectly organised and the Emiratis proved to be very friendly hosts. It was a spectacle of the senses that inspired many visitors and made a permanent impression on them. The Expo visit must have been an unforgettable experience, especially for the numerous school classes and many children accompanied by their parents who attended. The peaceful atmosphere in the Expo grounds contrasted with the Russian invasion of Ukraine that had begun shortly before. It was nevertheless a source of hope to see so many nations and people gather peacefully and exchange views on sustainable issues, visions for the future and equality. It is to be hoped that the huge Expo site will remain in place as planned and that it will genuinely be taken into account in the future urbanisation plans of this large city – so that it can continue to be used sustainably.

On this basis, we can draw a positive conclusion and be grateful for all the valuable encounters and impressions offered by the event. As exhibition organisers, we were inspired and convinced by the overall experience.

See you in Osaka in 2025