The long-awaited Expo 2020 is now in full swing and, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re most likely familiar with the well-known pavilions – think: Saudi Arabia, Luxembourg, and Germany. But what about the underdogs? Here, we’ve compiled a list of the five most underrated pavilions worth visiting.
Situated right next to the Saudi Arabia pavilion, the Morocco pavilion is unique in its architecture, featuring a combination of earthen textures and greenery to highlight its commitment to sustainability. Visitors start their journey downwards from the top floor of the pavilion through a continuous ramp (an elevator at the entrance takes you up) and have the chance to explore various displays, illustrations, and interactive projections that showcase the country’s rich history and culture, economic opportunities, and commitment to the future. Some of the things you can see include a replica of the skull of one of the first homo sapiens, a room filled with hundreds of medicinal plant extracts, and a calming indoor courtyard with a slowly spinning Moroccan chandelier that casts shadows in intricate patterns around the room.
Unlike most pavilions, the DP World pavilion isn’t country-specific – it represents the eponymous Emirati logistics company. The pavilion is based on the theme, The Power of Flow. Through its various galleries, visitors can explore how ideas, flow of goods, data innovation, and sustainability can come together to keep the world connected and strengthen the ‘flow’. You can also experience what it would be like to sit inside a Virgin Hyperloop passenger pod through a life-sized replica. You can even plan hypothetical journeys! Did you know that the travel time from Dubai to Abu Dhabi could be as little as 10 minutes via a hyperloop? The pavilion also boasts a digitised waterfall show that’s illuminated by hundreds of LEDs and spans five floors.
The Philippines pavilion invokes a sense of nature and free-flowing openness through its design that imitates a coral reef (otherwise known as bangkóta). Through a series of artworks and media, this pavilion weaves a visual narrative of the history and heritage of the Philippines over thousands of years. Some of the attractions that visitors can expect to see include a three-storey tall helix that’s meant as an ode to the distant ancestors of the Filipino people who arrived at the archipelago some 65,000 years ago and an outdoor gallery of colourful floating sculptures of overseas Filipino workers and possibly their Neolithic ancestors.
The Kuwait pavilion is filled with unique high-tech and visually stunning experiences that highlight the country’s goal of sustainable development for its people, economy, and environment. At its centre is a giant water funnel that resembles the common elevated water tanks in Kuwait that hold large amount of freshwater – a symbol of the nation’s sustainability goals. Visitors can also learn about the country’s history through artifacts (such as the oldest model of a boat made from clay and dating back to 5300-4800 BCE). Another unique attraction? Interactive digital screens that explain Kuwait Vision 2035 and can be controlled merely by making hand gestures! The pavilion also boasts a rooftop terrace that’s bathed in blue lights and features a café and sweeping views of the premises.
The final corporate contender in this list is the ENOC pavilion by the Emirates National Oil Company Limited. The pavilion is based on the theme of Reimagine Energy, so visitors can learn about how energy has shaped human history, the science of it, and its future through a spectacular array of vivid and awe-inspiring light and sound projections and floor-to-ceiling LED screen shows. The little ones (adults, too!) will especially enjoy a mural that features electric paint that lights up when you touch it. Though the vantage point is not that high, you can also enjoy a 360-degree view of the Expo 2020 site from its terrace.