Expo2020 Dubai: A Week Like No Other

Presenting at Expo 2020 Dubai is an honor. No doubt about it. And we were so pleased to be there with our partner, WTR EUROPE, a company that has dedicated many years to the research and development of wastewater treatment solutions. 

You’ll hear more about them in the future, we’re sure of it, and we’re not just saying that because we’re proud to be a part of it (although we are!), but because we simply believe 100% in this biological solution as being an answer to the world’s need for sustainable water treatment options. 
But yes, we’ll admit… we are also pretty proud of our unique software solution that supports the management of these water treatment plants – the “Hotovo fingerprint” that comes as part of this sustainable wastewater technology of the future 🙂

One of the gates at Expo

As far as this project goes, the Expo 2020 presentation has just been the cherry on the cake – and a sweet one! All the most important stuff (i.e. developing the actual solution!) of course started much earlier, but having the opportunity to present our finished solution at this prestigious event was really something. Even though the cherry picking and all the preparation needed to get us there definitely turned my hair gray 🙂 But it was well worth it.

View from the apartment

So how was the week we spent with the team in Dubai? And how did it feel to be one of the record-breaking 20+ million people who attended the Expo 2020 exhibition? Read on to find out… 

Day 1 at Expo: The first “wow” moment came immediately after we’d passed the entry check… and I immediately guessed that the storage capacity of my phone may not be sufficient 🙂 The creativity of the designers of all the different pavilions, installations, lighting shows – it’s endless, and it’s beyond inspiring…

We started by touring the pavilions, project presentations, and immersive experiences, all of which were aligned with the main theme of Expo 2020: “Connecting Minds and Creating the Future” through sustainability, mobility and opportunity.

Our first steps were to the Slovak Pavilion, which was to be our “home” for the week. We proudly watched the WTR project video whilst being among the other exhibitors, meeting lots of people and enjoying small talk with other visitors.

HOTOVO and WTR team

We then continued our tour of the Expo. Exploring the exhibition is super cool, but sooner or later the body starts to ask for a little rest – especially with the 30+ degrees outside. And we took that rest in style: with a nice cold beer (us Slovaks’ favorite drink!) while standing under the SpaceX Falcon 9 model. Turns out a refreshing IPA in such circumstances is even more tasty! 🙂 

Under the SpaceX Falcon 9 model

Honestly, I’d guess that you’d need at least a week to explore the whole exhibition in full. It consists of 192 participating nations and countless organizations all presenting their best innovations, ideas and opportunities. It’s like the whole world in one place. And you can see and experience it all. From thematic pavilions and countries presenting their culture and history, natural beauties, inventions, future plans and ambitions to having the opportunity to taste different cuisines, experience non-conventional types of transport and watch a variety of fascinating and informative musical and visual shows.

Day 2: We’d been so amazed by everything we saw on the first day, we couldn’t wait to set out on day 2 to explore even more. And again, we weren’t disappointed.

First up, we had the joy of visiting an old friend and former colleague who we’d cooperated with on a previous project for a Saudi Arabian client. 

And delicious food, tasty shisha and flashing buildings at every turn made for the end of another amazing day with lovely people in Dubai.

Turn the sound on!

I always get goosebumps listening to Whitney’s songs anyway, but when standing in front of one of the biggest fountains in the world and watching the water dance to her music?? – wow, it’s quite an experience.

Day 3: We couldn’t be in Dubai and not visit the iconic sites, such as the Palm Jumeirah island, the iconic Burj Al Arab hotel or the Bazaar market, so this was how we spent our third day in the city. It was quite easy to catch it all in one day thanks to our rented car… until we hit a traffic jam that is! The fun then turned into a super sprint through the world’s biggest shopping mall to get to the world’s tallest building in time, as we already had tickets for a scheduled time.

Record “outdoor” run

Yes, we made it!

The stunning views from Burj Khalifa’s 148th floor took our breath away. Especially as it was the first time we were able to look down on something in this city of giant structures! 

And this was a real treat – have you ever seen fireworks from above? 

Did you know Burj Khalifa is so tall that it’s one of the few places in the world that you can watch the sun set twice in one day!? You can enjoy it first from the ground level, and then dash up to the top floor in the building’s super fast elevator (it only took one minute!) and watch the sunset all over again. 

After staring from the top for more than two hours, we finally accepted it was time to go. At which point we realized we’d left our car in such a rush we couldn’t remember where we’d parked it! Which led to another few hours of fun and adrenaline as we navigated our way through this crazy city. 

The best way I can describe Dubai is as a mind-blowing amusement park on steroids. Everything there is “the biggest, the highest, the quickest, the most lit, the most numerous, etc.” As a nature and sports lover I felt a certain sadness for the areas of life that are noticeably missing here. I’d even dare to call this city an ecological disaster. Still, one can’t help but be impressed with what humankind can develop in a desert! The Expo site and pavilions are also going to be transformed into new uses now that the show is over, and given the show’s focus on sustainability, it will be interesting to see what this means for the city. Certainly Dubai is a city worth considering in your business plans, as I’ll admit, it is one of the most business friendly locations I’ve visited.

Day 4: The temperature kept getting higher, which meant our expectations of seeing all the remaining things we wanted to see started to get a little lower 😉 But after our regular check on the Slovak pavilion and a meet up between all our teams, we continued on to visit the Argentina, Serbia and UK pavilions – the countries in which we have our new Hotovo teams! So the Hotovo team spirit kept us going despite the heat. And then… the Slovakian spirit simply exploded when our pavilion was visited by the famous Slovak skier Petra Vlhova – Olympic gold medalist and winner of the Alpine ski world cup – who greeted us all, really making our day 🙂

As day turned to night, we went out to enjoy an exotic evening in a very friendly atmosphere with our Chinese counterparts. The whole team – WTR and Hotovo – around the table tasting delicious Chinese food and enjoying great conversation. 

foodporn
#foodporn

By now my phone storage memory was sending warnings – no wonder, with so much visually appealing and even tastier food… not to mention the immersive debates, stories and sharing of feelings that accompanied it all. And most excitingly – the bold new project plans we discussed!

Day 5: Saturday. Our last day in Dubai. Did someone mention the sea? Finally! 🙂

Done 🙂
about author

Silvia Ďuková

"Spontaneous little ball of energy." These words were said about me a long time ago by my friend. It still holds true :) And this energy leads me on the way of business development and marketing.

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