Eiffel tower

Did Expo 2020 make Burj Khalifa the new Eiffel Tower?

Since its inception 170 years ago, the World’s Fair, an event that showcases mankind’s most important inventions, has been associated with cutting-edge engineering. In 1851 it took place at the Crystal Palace in London, a glass structure so impressive that an entire district of the British capital bears its name. In 1889, France commissioned the Eiffel Tower for its Universal Exhibition. Its worldwide fame and the genius of the entrepreneur who inspired it, Gustave Eiffel, make it the most popular tourist destination in France, which remains the most visited country in the world.

But after decades at the top, the Eiffel Tower has a rival in the United Arab Emirates. According to new data from luxury travel company Kuoni, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa is now the most desirable landmark to visit in the world.

The moment couldn’t be more symbolic. The news comes less than a fortnight before the UAE opens Expo 2020 Dubai, which follows the same tradition behind the World Expo that led to the creation of the Eiffel Tower more than 130 years ago. years.

The international fame of Emirati monuments is an aspect of the country’s identity that has earned it the bid to host the event. More than the Burj Khalifa, visitors will be a short ride from the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the largest places of worship on the planet, named after Sheikh Zayed, the founding father of the United Arab Emirates. The Louvre Abu Dhabi, now one of the most famous examples of modern architecture in the Middle East, as well as the Emirate of Sharjah’s House of Wisdom, a library that houses more than 300,000 books, enjoy also of a growing international reputation. There are many other examples in the seven emirates.

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The buildings at the Expo 2020 site are feats of engineering themselves. The Dutch pavilion, for example, will consist of a giant cone covered with edible plants and a solar-powered rain shower to highlight the issue of water and food scarcity.

The heart of the Expo 2020 site is Al Wasl Plaza which will host its opening ceremony. The list of artists has just been unveiled. They include opera singer Andrea Bocelli, Golden Globe-winning actress, singer and songwriter Andra Day, British pop star Ellie Goulding, Chinese pianist Lang Lang and singer-songwriter Angelique Kidjo, four time Grammy winner. There will also be performances by regional artists, including ‘Artist of the Arabs’ Mohamed Abdu, much-loved Emirati singing sensation Ahlam Alshamsi and Emirati artist and Expo 2020 Dubai Ambassador Hussain Al Jassmi, a trailblazer of the Khaleeji music scene. It will be one of the biggest concerts the world has seen since the pandemic began.

All of this is happening on a site with hundreds of modern architectural concepts, in a city that can now claim the most desirable monument in the world, in a country that in recent years has commissioned some of the most ambitious buildings in the world. The heart of the World Expo has always been global showmanship, and the UAE’s built environment is well placed to give it just that.

Posted: September 21, 2021, 03:00