Connecting Minds, Creating the Future: An Interview with Sumathi Ramanathan, Director, Destination Marketing and Dr Shaun Vorster, VP Business Programming, Content & Programming, Expo 2020 Dubai

Expo 2020 Dubai will take the emirate’s standing as a world-class leisure, culture and business destination to the next level, helping increase tourism and cementing the UAE’s reputation as an international business hub, says Sumathi Ramanathan, Director – Destination Marketing, and Dr Shaun Vorster, VP Business Programming – Content & Programming, Expo 2020

In  November 2013, Dubai won the bid to host the World Expo in 2020. Since then, the emirate has embarked on a mission to deliver an outstanding exposition and a world-class event that will create a positive impact in the UAE and beyond.
Expo 2020 Dubai’s theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ is set to bring the world together for a six-month celebration of human ingenuity and progress, with national pavilions showcasing the latest in innovation and technology, cultural programming, and other experiential offerings. Expo 2020 will be a global destination with something for everyone, whether it be thought-provoking exhibits, events and dialogues or food, music and culture from around the world.
Today’s Traveller team caught up with Sumathi Ramanathan, Director – Destination Marketing, Expo 2020 Dubai, and Dr Shaun Vorster, VP Business Programming, Content & Programming, Expo 2020 Dubai. They shared insights into the creation of the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) and what the six month-long event aims to achieve with its wide range of event offerings and visitor experiences.

Ramanathan said: “We are turning our theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ into reality by creating an unforgettable visitor experience that can be customised to suit every preference. No matter who you are or where you’re from, you are guaranteed to find something to inspire you at Expo 2020 Dubai.
“We expect to attract 25 million visits between 20 October, 2020 and 10 April, 2021 – that’s equivalent to welcoming the population of Australia through our gates in only six months. More than 200 participants, including companies, multilateral organisations, educational institutions and 190 countries, are coming together to deliver a global celebration of human ingenuity and progress.
“From live entertainment and world culture, to activities that bring to life education, health and well-being in fun and engaging ways, the next World Expo will feature something to suit every taste.”
She added, “We have three major thematic districts at Expo 2020 Dubai – inspired by the key drivers of future progress – Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability. The Opportunity District, which is where the India Pavilion will be located, will focus on how each of us can support the Sustainable Development Goals. The Mobility District will explore the movement of people, goods, and ideas. Hence, one of its key elements is travel. The Sustainability District will look at how we can continue human development in harmony with the planet.
 “Expo 2020 will also collaborate with a multitude of travel, tourism and MICE organisations.”
Elaborating on the promotion of Expo 2020 Dubai in India, Dr Shaun Vorster said, “Throughout 2019, we will be actively engaging with the Indian MICE market, participating in industry tradeshows and visiting a number of cities across the country, in collaboration with the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing. India is a very significant market for Expo 2020, and we chose to start our year at SATTE 2019 to engage with the events industry, to promote our newly launched Dubai Exhibition Centre – a state-of-the-art facility co-located within Expo 2020 Dubai – and to discuss the business opportunity this presents to the market in India.”


  • This global six-month celebration of creativity and innovation, to be held from October 20, 2020 to April 10, 2021, will offer an incredible array of experiences for families, groups and travellers in a state-of-the-art setting. Expo 2020 will be a perfect time to engage in meaningful dialogues that will have a positive impact on your business, while renewing your connections or strengthening ties.
  • It is the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, and the first to be hosted by an Arab nation.
  • Marking an important milestone for the UAE, Expo 2020 Dubai coincides with the federation of the UAE’s 50thanniversary in 2021. 
  • Organisers expect to record 25 million visits, with 70 percent of visitors expected to be from outside the UAE, the highest proportion of international visitors in the Expo history of World Expos.
  • 30,000 volunteers will be the face of Expo 2020, helping to welcome the world to the UAE


The Expo 2020 site is located close to Al Maktoum International Airport and is easily accessible from Dubai International Airport, Abu Dhabi International Airport and Dubai and Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminals. The Expo 2020 site will attract millions of visitors from around the world. The site will feature supporting amenities and facilities, including the Expo 2020 Village for participants and staff accommodation, warehousing, logistics, transport nodes, hotels, retail and a public park. The Expo gated area will house themed pavilions of 190 countries, showcasing each one’s unique architecture, culture, technology and scientific innovations. Interactive exhibitions and engaging content will explore Expo 2020 Dubai’s themes of Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability in a fun and entertaining way. 
 The site will also offer a wide variety of food and retail options, enabling visitors to enjoy culinary delights from around the globe and unique shopping experiences. Extensive hospitality offerings and state-of-the-art conference, meeting spaces and entertainment areas for private hire will also be available.

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