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Expo 2020


The World Expo of 2020 has opened its doors. Already the web is flooded with night views of pavilions silhouetted against the excessive backdrop of Dubai. And proliferating alongside the myriad images are the words of a rhetoric which, while continuining to tie up with 19th-century discourses – progress, internationalization, cosmopolitanism – echo other contemporary themes, including sustainability, mobility, and the information society. In this sense, the motto of the exhibition cannot be more predictable: ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.’

The tradition of international fairs dates so far back, and the media hype they get has in the past thirty years been so intense, that it is difficult to think of anything new to say about events of the kind. Nevertheless, the current celebration in Dubai has its peculiarities. This is the first international exhibition ever to be held in the Middle East; an opportunity for the United Arab Emirates to assert its role as a moderation-inclined power in a context of rising tension where the United States and China – both present on the Expo grounds, flaunting emphatic pavilions – fight for primacy. It is also the first time that every participating country has a pavilion of its own and to itself, which sparks a reflection on architectural identities. And finally, for once a universal exposition takes place in the desert, which has been a cue to bring in interesting albeit not altogether always efficient climate-control proposals.

With its pavilions, its rhetorics, and latent politics, the Expo will close its doors on 31 March 2022.

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