Inside Saudi Arabia’s ‘window to the world’

4 min read
The Pavilion is one of the most sustainable structures at Expo 2020 Dubai and in the world.
  • The memorable landmark was conceived as a minimalistic prism that rises from the ground towards the sky, symbolizing Saudi Arabia's unlimited ambitions
  • Visitors can also explore a giant digital kaleidoscope and an interactive digital floor at the exhibition's highlight in the 'Vision' space

The Saudi pavilion drew visitors’ attention on the first day of Expo 2020 Dubai’s opening, as it is the second-largest pavilion in the exhibition, after the UAE pavilion, with a total area of 13,059 square meters and is in the Opportunity area.

The pavilion, which Spain-based Boris Micka Associates designed, is also one of the most sustainable structures at Expo 2020 Dubai and in the world, having been awarded the LEED version 4 Platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). This is the highest internationally recognized sustainability rating.

The memorable landmark was conceived as a minimalistic prism that rises from the ground towards the sky, symbolizing Saudi Arabia’s unlimited ambitions.

Rising five stories from the ground, the innovative façade of the building symbolizes the country’s deeply rooted heritage, ancient culture, natural wonders, myriad opportunities, and the towering ambition of the Saudi people.

Furthermore, the Saudi Pavilion’s groundbreaking achieved in setting three Guinness World Records, for the largest interactive lighting floor with around 8,000 LED lights; the longest interactive water feature at more than 32 meters, and the largest LED interactive digital mirror screen at more than 1,302 square meters.   

Unique experiences

In line with the overarching theme of Expo 2020 Dubai, “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future,” the Saudi Pavilion will take visitors on a guided tour of the wonders of the country’s 13 regions – through multiple immersive and interactive experiences and exhibits across the four pillars of People, Heritage, Nature, and Opportunities.  

Greeted by the world’s largest LED screen at the Open Square, visitors can admire the view of the stunning architecture. In addition, they will be given a glimpse into the Kingdom’s natural beauty at the Welcome Area across five pristine landscapes.

From there, the ‘Heritage Path’ offers a multisensory escalator ride, transporting visitors through some of the Kingdom’s most significant historical locations. These include UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as At-Turaif District in Ad-Diriyah, Hegra Archaeological Site in AlUla, Historic Jeddah, Rock Art in the Hail Region, and Al-Ahsa Oasis. Then they will be fast-forwarded to the country’s promising future on the Identity Escalator surrounded by 2030 crystals, representing Saudi Vision 2030.

Visitors can also explore a giant digital kaleidoscope and an interactive digital floor at the exhibition’s highlight in the ‘Vision’ space, a floating virtual sphere almost 30m in diameter.

Finally, visitors can view investment opportunities at the Discovery Center through an interactive digital map of Saudi Arabia with thousands of data points.

In an exclusive interview with TRENDS, Hussain Hanbazazah, Commissioner-General of the Saudi Arabia Pavilion, said that people had not had the opportunity to discover the “real” Saudi Arabia for a long time.

“Over the last few years, Vision 2030 has brought to fruition several projects and initiatives that are making Saudi Arabia an exciting, global tourist destination. Saudi Arabia’s participation in Expo 2020 Dubai is a window to the world and authentic Saudi Arabia that many people have not seen or experienced before,” Hanbazazah said. “At Expo 2020 Dubai, we look forward to visitors exploring our story through four integral pillars, which are People, Opportunity, Heritage, and Nature – taking a journey of discovery through the Kingdom’s past, present, and future.”

Hanbazazah continued: “The Saudi Pavilion’s design symbolizes both the country’s past and its aspiring future, inviting visitors to explore the country’s beautiful natural landscapes while learning about the rich history that has molded Saudi Arabia we celebrate today. Aligned with global sustainability norms, the eco-friendly structure is also powered by 650 solar panels, all manufactured in the Kingdom.”

A glance at the pavilion 

Economic benefits 

One of the key goals of Vision 2030 is for Saudi Arabia to become a global investment powerhouse and to transform the Kingdom’s economy into the 15th largest globally, up from rank 19 today.

The Saudi pavilion, according to Hanbazazah, was built to support these goals. Visitors to the Business Park, for example, will meet business leaders worldwide to form partnerships and discuss investment opportunities, or visitors to the ‘Discovery Center’ will learn how Saudi Arabia is opening on an unprecedented scale and how foundational reforms are making our economy more competitive.

“Our country has set big ambitions for itself: it wants to establish three cities recognized as being among the world’s top 100 cities. It aims to boost women’s participation in the workforce from 22% to 30%, increase the Public Investment Fund’s assets from SAR 600bn to SAR 7 trn, improve the Kingdom’s ranking in the Global Competitiveness Index from 25 to 10, increase FDI from 3.8% to 5.7% of GDP, and boost the private sector’s contribution to GDP from 40% to 65%”, he added.

The pavilion’s activities will continue until March 2022. The Kingdom’s program for the next six months will include active participation in all dialogues and forums held on the sidelines of the Expo, which will reflect a better future for the world, with the involvement from the Saudi private sector and all relevant state institutions.


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