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Expo 2020 Dubai World Show
11 Nov 2021

Expo 2020 Dubai

We envisaged that this World Expo would prove to be the ultimate in connecting the physical and digital worlds?

Seeing if this was true was one of our main 3 things that we wanted to find out at Dubai Expo 2021…

The other two questions were:

  1. How much use of Augmented Reality is being used and for what?
  2. Why does the world need World Expos?

But back to my original question, (connecting the physical and digital world), which was the main driver for attending … the answer is an emphatic NO!

This is not the fault of the UAE, they had laid out a magnificent site with striking pavilions, created interesting themes and environments to explore, but, and it’s a BIG BUT, what they offer on their App and on the fixed signage is the same content with only QR codes to link the two together! Where is the enhanced user experience of linking the two? QR codes are commonplace in today’s society, but with every single pavilion, or even coffee shop, asking you to scan a QR code for further information the benefits are almost ZERO!

On observation, it seemed that the QR code content was a replica of the printed literature, which was available inside and outside the pavilion. The same applied to their app; the content was a duplication of the website content … Let me ask you, where is the enhancement for the user experience?

What is the point of the QR Code? What is the point of the app?

Furthermore, within the Expo App, it states, ‘if you cannot visit the expo in-person, you can see it in VR’ which doesn’t help anyone attending or not attending … so again the physical and digital worlds are being kept poles apart!

This leads me onto my second question;


How much use of Augmented Reality is being used and for what?

Virtually (sorry for the terminology) there is none! (None that we found anyway, depsite our best efforts)

Many pavilions wax lyrical about how their country is at the forefront of technology, VR, AR, AI, smart applications, yet they don’t seem to demonstrate this. But, this technology is available in the here and now. They state they are at the forefront as it fits a frontier they are still waiting to discover properly and even master! As our focus is on AR, we did experience VR and AI (the UK pavilion being a good example of using AI) but as we seek out the AR experiences, we are extremely underwhelmed on what is available...


Why is this? Surely an expo is to epode and provide experience of what is new and what is coming?

This expo seemed to clearly ignore what is already here, preferring to ‘talk about its future potential’. (Some of which skignz already provides!).

Having attended and covered all major global events over the last 8-9 years including FIFA WC, Olympic Games, Winter Games, SXSW, GFOS and numerous trade, music and sports events, the response to our own technology has been amazing, mind blowing, we can’t wait for events to utilise this technology.

What baffles us, is how it can be use now! Not in 5,10, 20 years but TODAY! And it is still not being utilised to its full potential by major industry players.

It seems people are waiting for something that is already here! So, this begs another question …

Why is the uptake of AR for major events still not mainstream?

That’s a question we keep asking ourselves, but it should be a question live event organisers should be asking themselves.

Key Features:

  1. Real time inf
  2. Connecting the physical and digital worlds
  3. Unprecedented data capture

Key Benefits:

  1. Enhance user experience
  2. Increase engagement
  3. Measurable data

So, as we leave the live event organisers to think about why those features and benefits are not relevant, not to mention the eco benefits (we’ll save that for another post), let’s look at the last question…

Why does the world need World Expos?

Let’s explore the fact that we are coming off the back of a global pandemic, reduced travel, change in peoples’ working habits and a big focus on the environment … what’s the benefit of spending billions, even trillions, on a big giant business theme park in one location, then spending further trillions attracting people to come and visit?

Is it not a bit overindulgent, with so many other current issues to focus on, to see state/nations budgets being spent in this way? Do you agree?

Expos have been a success for over 170 years, with the first one being held in Hyde Park, London, 1st May to 15th October 1851. The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, also known as the Great Exhibition or the Crystal Palace Exhibition was the first in a series of International Fairs, starting the trend for culture and industry world fairs.
(info provided from Wikipedia)

In the last centauries, before we even really knew what the rest of the world looked like, let alone experienced it, but with the growth of 24hr news channels, the internet and social media life has developed.

So yes, it’s fair to say expos do work, but we also must take into consideration how the world has changed and whether expos need to change with the times. In 2019, life took another U-turn that rocked the world! But within this rollercoaster what became our ‘go to technology'

We have all evolved as global citizens … technology became an essential part of our daily living. The only way to stay in touch with loved ones was with enhanced technologies that many people didn’t know how to use, or even existed. In the last two years, technology has been utilised in ways we never thought we’d see in our lifetime, from home-schooling, working from home to elderly relatives having to understand how to facetime when they’d never held a mobile phone, let alone switched on an iPad.


It sounds dramatic, but the above is true. Schools had to find enhanced ways of using technology to reach all pupils, companies had to improve, or develop, systems that allowed home working, and these are technologies that we know about. This way of living became part of our everyday world, embedded into our daily routines as we adapted to this new technological lifestyle.

Technology took a quantum leap into the world as the reliance expanded into many areas of our lives.

So, what on earth has this got to do with expos?

Expos have always been the next level, thought-provoking expeditions that have attendees’ imaginations bouncing for months, even years. Now, because technology has moved forward 10/20 years in the last 2 years, any future expos truly need to up their game! The experience needs to be so impressively breath-taking, that it doesn’t blend into the world as we now know it!

If here is another world expo, it needs to be a mind-blowing, awe-inspiring, event! Senses need to be overwhelmed, experiences need to be super-focused on a specific result, bite-sized fascinating content needs to grasp the attention of all attendees … they need to leave with the excitement of opportunities and possibilities.

Expos need to not only move forward as fast as the world has but they should be ahead, predicting and showing us what is next, what is possible!

Now, this post was not an attack on the Dubai expo (what they had put together was very impressive) neither is it a rant about global spending and its effect on the environment … far from it … we just hoped it could start the conversation for the global events planned over the next 10-20yrs and beyond …

And, here’s the thing, the same questions will be asked? Is it sustainable? Do you blur the lines between the physical and digital worlds? And, what is the ultimate benefit for the money spent?

What do you think?

For more info on Dubai Expo 2020 visit their website https://www.expo2020dubai.com/

As always, if you would like to know more about skignz, then please do check out the rest of our website, www.skignz.com and also follow us across the usual social media channels @skignz. 

Heres a few more images from the Expo...





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