Part of the highly anticipated Expo 2020 Dubai site opened to residents and tourists for the first time on Friday.
The Sustainability pavilion, an enormous sunshade encircled with solar-powered trees and embedded with green energy solutions, became the first area to welcome visitors, nine months ahead of the Expo’s formal inauguration.
Beneath the large, disc-shaped construction is a preview of the future attractions visitors to the World Fair can expect in October.
Two more pavilions, Mobility and Opportunity, will debut by April as part of the Pavilions Premiere.
Visitors will be able to spot other landmark structures although these are not yet open. They can explore the grounds and see some of the installations already in place.
The pavilions offer all sorts of fun and informative outdoor experiences that will surely inspire environment and technology enthusiasts.
Here is everything you need to know before visiting the Dubai Expo 2020 site.
What will I see?
The Sustainability pavilion will open five days a week to a limited number of visitors.
Visitors will walk past tall solar-studded trees that rotate as they track the Sun. Interactive displays can be seen under a ringed-roof dotted with thousands of photovoltaic panels.
Sustainability is the first of three main theme pavilions to open. Visitors may be able to spot the other two structures – Mobility and Opportunity – while touring the venue. These will open to the public over the next few months.
The exhibitions are designed for all ages and promise fun outdoor experiences. There is a playground for children. The Expo promises live entertainment, activities for children and food trucks as well.
Timings and bookings
Expo 2020 Pavilions Premiere begins on Friday and runs until April 10. Gates open from 3pm to 9pm Tuesday to Thursday and 4pm to 10pm Friday to Saturday.
Tickets cost Dh25 and must be bought online at ticketing.expo2020dubai.com. A limit of 10 tickets per transaction applies.
Physical distancing restrictions mean the tickets must be booked in advance.
The ticket will cover entry to one or two of the pavilions premiered: the Sustainability pavilion, Mobility and/or the Opportunity pavilion depending on the date and availability.
Entry is free for children under five, people with special needs and their companions, as well as adults aged 60 and above.
All visitors, including those eligible for complimentary access, are required to book tickets.
How to get there
The Expo Rider is a free public bus service dedicated to Expo 2020. The bus will be available every 30 minutes from the Dubai Mall bus station to the Expo 2020 site. Seats on the bus cannot be booked and are on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The service from Dubai Mall begins from 2pm on Tuesday to Thursday and 3pm Friday to Saturday.
Taxis or car hire
Visitors can hail a cab on the street or book one using the Careem or Uber apps.
Dubai Taxi Corporation has a limited number of taxis with wheelchair access. Call 800 88088 to book ahead.
To hire an accessible private car and driver, Inclusion Services provides vehicles across the UAE. For more information visit inclusionservices.ae
Free parking is available at the site. Visitors should follow road signs to the theme pavilion listed on their ticket.
Parking is available from 2.30pm Tuesday to Thursday and 3.30pm Friday to Saturday.
Parking will close at 9pm Saturday to Wednesday and 10pm Friday to Saturday.
Valet parking is not available.
Shuttle buses will run from the car park to the nearest visitor entrance.
Buggies will be provided, if needed, for people with special needs, accompanying family or companions to help them reach the main gate from the parking area.
Visitors should carry a valid “people of determination” parking permit from Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority. These include a blue card for people with permanent conditions, red card for people with temporary immobility, green for vehicles of companies that transport people with special needs or a yellow card for tourists with disabilities.
The Dubai Metro line to the Expo site will not be running but visitors can use the free Expo Rider buses.
Are there special discounts for students, groups?
At present, there are no special discounts but visitors should contact the Expo centre on 800 EXPO  to book for groups larger than 50.
Do I need to pay for anything else on site?
There will be no additional entry charges. Food, drink and souvenirs will be available for purchase.
The Origins Cafe will be open at the Sustainability pavilion and there will be other options across the pavilion concourse.
How much time should I set aside for the visit?
It could take about an hour to walk through a pavilion. There will be more activities and food stalls so the Expo recommends visitors plan for additional time to explore the area.
Will it be a guided tour?
Guides will not be required but volunteers will be present to answer any questions.
Can I visit other areas apart from the theme pavilions?
Before and after a visit to the pavilions, people can glimpse the public spaces, explore the Expo grounds, view installations and artworks.
Can I enter any of the country pavilions?
No. Only the three theme pavilions will be open for the Pavilions Premiere.
The Sustainability Pavilion will be the first to welcome visitors from January 22. The Mobility and Opportunity pavilions will open in the first quarter of 2021.
Is the site accessible for people with special needs?
Yes. Organisers have made sure of this.
Tickets for people with special needs and one companion each are free. All visitors, including people with disabilities, must obtain a ticket online.
Visitors are advised to carry an ID card should a member of the Expo team ask to see some form of identification. This can be any relevant national identity card for people with special needs such as a Sanad card, social security benefit letter, DLA, EU, or ADA disability card.
A limited number of wheelchairs will be available on site free of charge.
There are accessible toilets in the arrival plazas and theme pavilions.
If visitors have medication that must be refrigerated, it can be left at a first aid centre. No other medical equipment can be stored. The product must be carefully packed, sealed and labelled and collected by the end of the day. Any item left behind will be disposed of at the end of the day.
How far in advance can I book a ticket?
Slots can be booked a maximum of two weeks in advance of your chosen journey date.
Must I print my ticket?
Printed tickets are accepted. You can also show your ticket and the linked QR code on your mobile phone or tablet.
Can I rebook if I am late?
Late entrances into the pavilion may not be accepted owing to capacity restrictions.
If the ticket is for the early time slot of 3pm on weekdays or 4pm on weekends, visitors can access the site and pavilions up to 30 minutes after their booked time.
If the ticket is for 4pm or later on weekdays or 5pm or later on weekends, visitors can access the site up to 60 minutes before their booked time and up to 30 minutes after their booked time slot.
Can I move my booking to another date or get a refund?
Tickets are non-refundable, cancellations and date changes are not allowed. All tickets are transferable so visitors can pass their ticket to a relative or friend. Ticket resale is not permitted privately or via a public platform.
Once I have seen the pavilion, what would draw me back in October?
Expo organisers say this is a small but vital piece of the site. Once the entire Expo arena opens, there will be pavilions of different countries, installations, entertainment and international cuisine from around the globe.
What products can I buy at the Expo retail outlets?
A range of products from souvenirs, toys, stationery, homeware, sporting and outdoor goods are on sale at Expo.
Are Covid-19 safety measures in place?
Capacity limits are in place to control the number of people permitted. Thermal cameras at arrival points will check the temperature of all visitors. People must wear face masks at all times. Social distancing norms of at least two metres between people must be maintained. Staff will monitor and ensure safety protocols are observed. Venues will be regularly sanitised. Hand sanitiser stations are positioned at regular intervals. Specialist staff are available to handle medical issues.