Six attractions to keep kids entertained at Expo 2020 Dubai

The sprawling Expo 2020 Dubai site offers several attractions for families of all ages. The whole thing is a spectacular sight, and its tasting menu of different pavilions will expose children to the cuisines, crafts and architecture of countries around the world.

Organizers have clearly catered to families, as visitor centers around the park offer breastfeeding rooms – in welcome full-throttle air conditioning – and there are several ways to navigate the areas.

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These include bikes with child seats (available to rent) and the Expo Express, the joyful cross between a train and a golf cart that services major thoroughfares. There are also playgrounds (Latifa’s Adventures and Rashid’s World), and the Around the World carousel at Mobility, roughly opposite the Belgian pavilion.

Below are a few top attractions, but an expected joy of Expo 2020 bounces from country to country in the network of smaller pavilions, from Suriname to Guyana to Timor-Leste. These are often less crowded than the main sites, and while your kids might know something about the national dishes of, say, Thailand, tea in Ethiopia might be more of a surprise.

Finally, a word about timing. The Expo comes alive at night, when it’s cooler and the attractions are illuminated. The stunning pavilion architecture often incorporates lights, messages from the Saudi Arabian pavilion ticker and United Kingdom LED memos to the kinetic interchange of blocks of the extraordinary Korean building.

Until the weather cools down during the day, it’s worth pushing back bedtime for the little ones to experience – have dinner at one of the pavilions (Chinese? Estonian?) and attend the shows regularly organized by the pavilions.

Here are six must-see attractions at Expo 2020 Dubai:

House Hammor

This brick and trellis site, near the entrance to the Mobility section, will host daily art workshops for children throughout the six months of Expo 2020.

The program shines a light on the ongoing destruction of the ocean’s coral reefs – which they will metaphorically strive to repair, painting 3D designs of the bleached reefs.

Their creations will then be scattered in the small garden of the House, around a hammour fish made from recycled “ghost fishing nets” – fishing nets abandoned in the sea in the form of debris.

Al Wasl Dome

The flair of this spectacular light show will no doubt be familiar from the opening ceremony, which showed how a 360º projection fills the dome after dark.

Even for a country that thinks it’s seen a show or two, it’s pretty amazing. The matrix print of traditional woven patterns gives way to the dome as an opera, with dancers leaping from arch to arch.

The feature of water

Admittedly, appreciation of the water feature was likely aided by the heat and humidity of the early days of the Expo – but it will be a boon for younger and older children, and their sick and ill parents. sick.

Imagine a huge bowl with water cascading down the sides to a soundtrack of game of thrones composer Ramin Djawadi. The choreography, by the group WET, is both fascinating and interactive. Visitors can stand and run on the shallow sides of the bowl, paddle and get their feet wet – just be prepared to queue on hot days.

Visitors enjoy the Water Feature area.  Victor Besa / The National

Afra Al Dhaheri Pillow Box

Expo 2020 has commissioned an exemplary art program for the event, all designed as public sculptures that people are invited to touch and interact with.

Emirati artist Afra Al Dhaheri was inspired by the pillow forts she and her siblings made when they were young, and created a marble sculpture that resembles a soft, billowing arch, with the carving which mimics the floral patterns and scalloped borders familiar to Khaleeji’s childhoods. .

Although adults may appreciate the trompe l’oeil effect and its nostalgic evocations of days gone by, kids will have a way with these whimsical terms and do what they’re meant to do: have fun and play.

The Pillow Fort play area installation by Emirati artist Afra Al Dhaheri at Expo 2020 Dubai.  Photo: Expo 2020 Dubai, Afra Al Dhaheri

desert farm

There’s a lot to learn just by encountering the different cultures at Expo 2020, but the Desert Farm is a dedicated learning center where kids can learn about the types of plants that naturally grow in the desert and admire fish endemic to the Arabian Sea. .

The Desert Farm is near Latifa’s Adventure Playground, a grassy expanse, and the Al Dhaheri Pillow Fort (all in the areas marked in purple, behind the United Arab Emirates Pavilion in falcon shape), making it a good section to park in if the main exhibition site leaves everyone feeling a bit frazzled.

People visit the colorful pavilion of Pakistan on the first day of Expo 2020 in Dubai

Pakistani flag

It’s hard to choose a favorite among the large pavilions: the Luxembourg pavilion has a slide! The Netherlands harvests water from scratch and Egypt brought a mummy! But for room-by-room sustained wonder, we like the Pakistan Pavilion, located in the Opportunity district, which is flagged orange.

The architecture, of a multicolored network of separate hills, makes it a pleasant building to enter and the presentation of the country combines a spectacular videography of its extraordinary landscape: think the pink salt rocks of the Himalayas and a wooden boat finely carved. A very decent selection of Pakistani handicrafts such as block-printed towels and a popular restaurant on the ground floor make this a one-stop-shop for family fun.

Updated: October 2, 2021, 5:33 p.m.