United Arab Emirates

Among the Desert Dunes to Discover the Importance of Water and Dates, Towards Dubai 2020


One of the most easily recognizable pavilions of Expo Milano 2015: the desert dunes that characterized the United Arab Emirates Pavilion attracted attention from afar. In fact, the architect who designed the Pavilion is the renowned Norman Foster, of the eponymous British firm Foster & Partners. The starchitect was not just inspired by the desert dunes, they were photographed and then reproduced in detail in a resin structure capable of retaining the coolness. Even the floor of the ramp leading to the auditorium was slightly wavy: for visitors it was like crossing the Emirates’ desert gorges.
This unique construction has a future: it is expected that it will be dismantled and transported to Masdar, one of the most futuristic smart cities in the world. Such a deployment of forces has a specific purpose: the country wants to show its great skills in view of the upcoming World Exposition to be held in Dubai in 2020 with the theme Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.

12 challenges and as many answers
The United Arab Emirates Pavilion did not just impress by its looks: the Expo Milano 2015 theme has been fundamental for the country considering that 85 percent of food is imported and the scarcity of water resources is a constant challenge. For this, a recess between the dunes contains a series of 48 holographic installations divided into 24 cubes (each visible from both sides), that display 12 challenges and as many solutions. To give an example of this, to face the climate change challenge, the International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture is studying edible plants, resistant to the saline conditions of the Emirates.

Family tree, a journey into the past to rediscover traditions
At the heart of the Pavilion was the ten-minute film entitled “Family tree” that was shown on the walls around the Auditorium. In a magical and dreamlike journey, Sara is transported into the past, where she discovers the methods used by previous generations to obtain water and the importance of the date in ensuring survival in the desert. In the next area, a surprise amazed visitors. Photographs taken on the ramp just moments before accompanied the music final.

Towards Dubai in 2020, a journey into the future to discover the next World Exposition
The last space on the visitor route gived a preview of the main innovations on which some partner companies of the Emirates are working. The exhibition area closes with an invitation to Dubai 2020. The exhibition site is under construction and half way between Abu Dhabi and Dubai to favor accessibility by air transport. The theme will touch three areas: sustainability, opportunity and mobility.


Discover the United Arab Emirates Pavilion in the Expo Milano 2015 archive