Expo 2020 Dubai – Opening Ceremony

Finally, after years of planning (for them) and a couple of days of research (from me), it was time for the opening ceremony of Expo 2020 Dubai!  In true UAE fashion, this extravaganza was going to be broadcast across the globe and there was also a live stream so you could watch at home! 

As the event was invitation only and so sought after that not even some of the senior managers of Expo could get a ticket, I settled on my couch at 7.15pm with a bowl of chips and started the long process of trying to log onto the stream.

Half an hour later, I gave up and thankfully due to some very clever ladies in a whatsapp group I belong to, found the YouTube stream.  I had heard that the official Expo one had an English speaking commentator talking all about the event.  The YouTube didn’t so I just listened to the traditional singing and watched everyone arrive.  No clue who, of course.

Then it started.  I know this because the music changed, not because it was announced!  I had my laptop open in front of me and took the last minute decision to write what I was thinking when I was seeing it.  A stream of consciousness, if you will.  And that is what you are about to read.  With the typing cleared up though.  Turns out I don’t speed type as well as I used to!


OK… it’s a go.  There introductions sound nice.  In Arabic.  I recognise the names of the Sheikh’s and that is about it.  I really feel ashamed right now that I couldn’t get to grips with Arabic after living here for 10yrs.  Nearly 11 actually.

Ooooh…. It’s in English now!  Sounded more interesting in Arabic.

And French too.  I don’t remember much of that from high school, but understand more than the Arabic. 

Should I start lessons again and give it a good try?  Arabic, that is.  I wonder if that’s more affordable now.

Time for the anthem and flag raising.  It’s all very dignified.  They do pomp and ceremony nearly as well as the English for a royal event!  No one can beat Queen Elizabeth though.

I’ve just noticed the visual and sound are out of synch.  That is going to get irritating.

Now we have a nice sounding Arabic song again.  I can’t pretend to understand the words, but it sounds very nice.  I’m sure it has a great meaning.  I wish there were subtitles.

There is now an older man wandering about talking.  No clue.  Still in Arabic. 

A little girl has joined him on stage.  She is stunning.  As is her outfit.  I don’t know who she is but I’m feeling all proud.  Such a tiny girl in front of a world-wide audience, and she looks perfectly at ease.  Incredible.

Oh, I think this is the story of the girl who found a golden ring or something.  It’s the story they have written about the theme of Expo, I think.

Yep… old dude just held up the ring and gave it to her.  I’m feeling smart!

Her hair is just incredible.  I have hair envy.  I am fairly sure I am not the only one, either.

Still no clue what’s going on.  I wonder if other channels have English subtitles or anything. 

I wonder if I can google tomorrow and find out what was going on.  Or at least find out what this story is about.

Oohhh… the dome has a pretty pattern being projected across it.  Or is it a bunch of tv screens all put together and playing a video?  Or is it lasers?   Probably should google that tomorrow, too.

I wonder who wrote the music.  It’s actually really nice.  A mix of jaunty classical with a hint of Arabic.

There are now people with sticks walking in.  Flags maybe at some point?  It must be.  There are so many.

More singing.  Really must learn Arabic.

I should have stocked up on the wine or champagne for this.  It feels like a celebration watching.

They are starting to wave the poles and the flags are unravelling.  I was right!  Another smart moment!

There are sooooo many.  I have no clue what some of them are.  Does this make me a failure at world geography?  I would imagine it does.  192 countries involved so I could really look at all the lists and check the flags out. 

Oorrrrr… I could check them out when I am walking around expo.  Much better idea.

Stunning African lady singer in yellow dress on stage now.  Assume African given the sound of the music she is singing.  I can’t place the language. 

Must look up names after this has finished. They are coming up in a corner of the tv that has stuff in front of it.

Or, I could just move the junk in front of the tv. 

English singer now.  No clue who.  More flag waving.

Oh it’s the same lady!  I do love her dress.  No shoulders on it though which is surprising.  I would have thought people would cover more.  Maybe this is a purposeful thing to illustrate how multicultural, understanding and tolerant the UAE is.

It really is.  It’s not horrible as so many mean news people would like to have you all believe.  Yes, I’m looking at you specifically, Daily Mail!

Her voice is ace.  It’s so rich and soulful.  I could listen to her for hours.

The Arab singer guy is excellent, too.  I just don’t get the singing style.  Its not my thing.  I can appreciate that he is in tune, in control and very good though! 

Still no clue what most of these flags are.  It’s getting more frustrating the more I see. 

I bet this would be absolutely spectacular if you were actually there.

The future started yesterday, and we are already late”

Strong and poignant words to end on.  I like it.  It’s in keeping with the theme and resonates with everyone on a personal level too.   It does for me anyway.

I really wish there were subtitles.  Not just for the speakers but for the words of that song.  Eurovision stylie.  Although I imagine it wouldn’t be as funny as some of the classics coming out of that!

More flag waving.

Fireworks to punctuate the end of the song!  Like it!

Now there are a bunch of kids running around looking excited.  With an Expo flag.  Passing it from one kid to another.  Cute!  Pointless, but cute!

Probably not pointless but I’m not great at interpreting dance.  I need words.

I moved the stuff in front of the TV.

Hussain al Jassimi, Mayssa Karaa and Almas are now singing the Expo 2020 Dubai theme tune!  This one I have heard before!

There may be miss spellings in the names.  I don’t know these singers so am trying to type and watch and read.  Not going so well really!

I’ve decided that I kind of feel bad for the men.  They are wearing basically the same thing as they do every day.  The girls all get fabulous outfits. 

Loving this projector dome thing!  It’s so pretty and clever.

Oh bless. These kids look so excited!!  How do they not look terrified at the scale of this thing?  I am anxious on their behalf! 

Really should have got wine.

More punctuation fireworks!

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence and Commissioner General of Expo 2020 Dubai (yes, I googled that after so I could get it right) is now taking to the stage I assume he will be doing a speech of some kind.

I thought he was going to sing for a moment there!  That would have been awesome!!

It’s a speech but there is English subtitles.  Hoorah!

He is explaining the story that got us to expo, starting back in 1970 in Japan.  Now that was a bit of a left field.  I thought that it would be the story of the UAE.  But it’s the first time they were at the Expo. 

Sheikh Zayed was there, of course.  It was actually before the establishment of the UAE.  Interesting.

Now for a bit more about the Union.  I actually really like this story.

“Stronger together.”  They certainly are.  They are such a powerhouse now.

I wonder if there are posh accents and common accents for Emiratis?  I feel this Sheikh would go into the posh category if there was one.  He speaks so well.  And no notes.  How does he remember it all?

Also, for the record, he looks so in control and powerful, but in a kind way.  Very poised and gentlemanly.

He is now saying that basically their vision from the start has been to promote innovation, tolerance and peace.  I think that is very true too. 

And what an innovative country.  Is there anyone better right now?  Think about it.  This place is in its infancy as a country.  Hundreds of years behind America.  Thousands behind the UK.  Yet look what it’s done so far.

The Expo bid was in 2011, the year I moved here, and its vision was to connect minds and create a sustainable future, that drove them.  That and the commitment and desire to make the world a better place for all.

I didn’t know that the Expo was 170 yrs old now.  Impressive.

I finally recognised the end a couple of words in Arabic.  While I feel some pride it’s minimal compared to the shame of my lack of language skills.

No fireworks.

Secretary General of the BIE, Dimitri Kerkentzes is now up.  Good luck following that, dude!

Oh he is speaking in English! Yay! (Said with more shame.)

He isn’t quite as well practiced as the nice Sheikh man.  He is reading from notes and he looks absolutely terrified.  I don’t blame him from that but following the elegance and poise of the Sheikh, it is a hard visual.

He is explaining what Expo is.  It is kind of boring though.  I apparently do better with reading subtitles for information.  I take more in. 

The subtitles are in French and Arabic now.  I wonder why French?

The mention of Sheikh Mohammed means he has to pause and wait for the applause to die down.  I like that.  Very respectful.

No punctuation fireworks now either. 

Raising of BIE flag.  What is the BIE?

With music that starts like the Jaws theme tune!  No jokes!  Thank goodness I am not there! I would be kicked out for giggling at that!

Still no punctuation fireworks.  Maybe they have stopped now.

Oh yay!  Now its Sheikh Hamdan!  We do love him.  He is such a lovely boy.

In Arabic.  But short.  Just declaring it open.  Thank you subtitles!

Pretty fireworks on the ceiling.  So clever.  Where have the real ones gone?

Another lady is singing now in another amazing dress.  Her face is amazing too.  Definitely not her original.  How does that much surgery not affect someone’s voice?  Actually, it may have done.  I wouldn’t have a clue.  No clue who she is.

I honestly LOVE how over the top these dresses are.  They are stunning.  I want one.

It’s a very jolly song.  It’s like a dance track but a mix of Arabic (predominantly), English and French.  She must be Lebanese.  Long song.  Maybe because of all the languages?  Still bopping along though.

Oohhh… fireworks!  Not as punctuation!  Just for fun!  Yay!

I wonder how far away they can be seen?

I don’t know what I’m seeing now.  It’s looks like thousands of fireflies twirling towards the top of the dome.  Stunning. 

Now some people holding glowing balls are coming out.  Oh wait… worked it out.  It appears to be a solar system!  This s beautiful. 

Dramatic music.  I assume this is going to be a dance thing. 

How are they doing this light show?  It’s incredible.


The feed is buffering.  Now I am not going to see what the emerging beehive of light really is!  I can’t restart the feed or I will completely lose it like I did the others. 


I think the beehive is the sun.  I am getting odd snippets.

It appears to have turned into the earth.  No, the moon.  Back to the earth? It is very confusing with all the jumping around.

And it’s back.  Phew!

The girl with the ring is also back!  On a ladder.  Climbing to the earth…?

And we are buffering again.

Now there is a piano player.  I think he is a famous one.  The snippets are jumping to him and he is playing very hard.  Now soft but looking like he is thoroughly emersed.  Stunning music. 

His name is Lang Lang, apparently.

I love the piano.  I wonder if I can download whatever this is.  Will shazam pick it up?  I’m going to try.

It did!  It’s Liebesträume, S 541: Nocturne No. 3 in A Flat Major. 

I am so thankful the feed has stopped buffering.  I love this.

Oh, this my be my favourite bit. 

Am I turning in to my grandmother?

Wait… favourite bit second to the dresses.  They are still amazing.

I cannot imagine what it must feel like to be there night now listening to his.  I have goosebumps from here even.

I think there is a cross over with sound somewhere along the way.  The most beautiful part just had some rando lady singing in the background.  Ugh.


Oohhh… giant butterfly dancer people!   Not really but that is what it reminds me of.  There are also people on stilts but in a Cirque du Soleil type bending and moving way.

This reminds me of coral and being under the ocean! 

Yep… I’m right!  An under the sea theme.  Jelly fish are floating around on the dome now.  They are pretty but also super creepy.

How are these people staying on the polls??


I wonder if this is a bit to cover the pearl diving history of the country, or a bit about ecology and sustainability going forward.  You know, protecting the oceans and all that.

I keep expecting King Shufflebottom from La Pearl show to turn up!

Oh the pretty girl is back!  Her dress is the best one of the night.  And her jewellery.  I think I am starting to like yellow gold.

Who is this kid?  I wonder if she is a princess/Sheikha or if she is an actress, or just picked for her stunning hair.

I hope Albert is watching this.  He will love it.  And Mum.  I wish we were all watching together. I would check but I am watching and writing.  I’m sure this will be available to watch somewhere tomorrow.

I think we are now above water.  It’s all very pink.  I can see clouds.  Or sheep.  I haven’t got my glasses on.  Nope, totally clouds. 

Oh it’s Ellie Golding!

Random choice.  And quite a juxtaposition musically.  It sounds a bit crude compared to the rest.

She kind of killed it for me.  She is singing “Anything”.  It’s nice and the words work with the overall message and all, but no.  This doesn’t work for me.

I have turned it down.

Also, her dress is boring.  How can you have read the event so poorly and chosen such a blah dress.

I still don’t know how they are making all these images fly around.  It’s doves now.  So clever.

And no way she is singing live, either. 

Honestly, this is a horrible addition.  I’m sorry.  I like her generally, but no.

Thank goodness that is over.


Back to pretty music and the little girl in the pretty dress.  And jewellery.  And that hair.  Incredible.

Another singer.  I am a bit worried after Ellie.

Andrea Day.  I don’t know who she is.  Much nicer dress but still not fabulous.  Needs a bit of professional besazzling like the rest of them. 

Oh good.  She fits in musically much more, despite singing something pop-like. 

The little girl how has a glowing gem in her hands and is ambling around. I really am going to have to google this story another time.  It looks fascinating.

And this Andrea lady has incredible hair too, as an aside.

That was a much better contemporary addition to this story.  Poor Ellie.

More dancing that I don’t understand but looks pretty.  It’s the kids in white again.  And some very colourful looking flower people.  Lots of greenery and flowers and a blue tree that’s now white.

Beautiful imagery.




Where are the tissues?

Who is he signing it with?

Oh bless him! He looks awesome.  And is signing on his own. His voice really is incredible.

Goosebumps everywhere.

I cannot tell you how much I want to be there.

Oh and the visuals to go with it.  Of a waterfall and all the serenity of the nature is just perfection with this song.  Just so beautiful.

All the performers appear to have joined him on stage, but the little girl is looking at him with complete and utter awe.  It’s beautiful.  She once again steals the show.  She is just incredible.

And now it’s buffering again.

Wait… is that it???

Can’t he do an encore????

Oh man. It’s finished. 

I was enjoying that so much!  I can’t believe it’s been 90 minutes.  Crazy.

Must find a recording of this and watch over again tomorrow.

Thank you Expo for giving us this amazing (minus Ellie) experience!

One Comment Add yours

  1. cathydodd says:

    sounds like you had a fun evening typing ! Good to read .. felt I was there ! xx

    Sent from my iPhone


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