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The Unveiling Excited Crowds flock to the first day of Expo 2020 Dubai

As Expo 2020 Dubai opened its doors to the world for the first time, crowds of visitors flocked to the spectacular site, eager to witness first-hand the first day of the first World Expo in the region.

Excitement levels were already high before the gates were opened at 10am at the Sustainability Entry Portal, with many enthusiastic people beginning to line up after travelling from all over the UAE and around the world to be among the first to see Expo 2020.

"I woke up at 6am. We left at around 7am," said 17-year-old Mubarak Salah Al Hemeiri, who came with his whole family from Al Ain, Abu Dhabi emirate, and planned to spend the whole day at the Expo site. "I don't use social media. I came here to get my own first impression. I'm so excited. I couldn't imagine seeing this city in the middle of the desert." Dubai-based Fabio Berti, from Italy, was also among the early birds, alongside his wife and children. "I am very happy to finally be able to see the Expo. I have been waiting a long time for this." It was a sentiment shared by Viju Kumar, a UAE resident for the past 15 years who visited Expo with his wife, Nirmala, after driving from Abu Dhabi. "We have been waiting for this since last year. We are excited to see what's inside. We'll stay here for the whole day," Kumar said. Nirmala travelled to the UAE from India to spend a holiday with her husband and see Expo 2020. Metra Jayakumar, a network engineer who works in Dublin, Ireland, also travelled to Dubai on holiday and to visit Expo 2020 with her husband, Sid, a business analyst. "I went to the Expo to explore. I have seen a couple of pavilions and I had a good experience." Desmond Hayes, also from Ireland, was awed at seeing the world in one place. "I am here on vacation and I have visited different countries... The place in itself is amazing," he said. "The construction is unbelievable, and I have yet to see a lot of different countries in terms of innovation and technology."

"Making something from nothing" is how Cara Fernando, a digital marketing entrepreneur from the Philippines, referred to how Dubai has developed the Expo site from scratch. "It's amazing ... so vibrant," she said. "We are going to stay here till tonight to also watch the fireworks."

Shaun Warner, who attended with his wife and two children, said that making something from nothing is "the story of Dubai" and exclaimed that the Expo site is "fantastic!" "I came here to see the world in one place," said Farrahana Hashim, an Abu Dhabi resident from Malaysia who brought her husband and four children.

Education was on the agenda for Monica Adamin, who brought a group of students for an awe-inspiring learning experience. "We are taking students all the way from Italy to take part in some educational laboratories inside the Italy Pavilion. So, we'll have a general look of the Expo and for the next three or four days, we will be working in the pavilion," she said. Business was the priority for Atik Roman, originally from Bangladesh, who travelled from Florida, USA, and said that he "came here to see what kind of opportunities for investment are available". With up to 60 live events each day and more than 200 pavilions, the Expo site is coming alive during its 182-day feast for the senses. Its dynamic, diverse and ever-changing entertainment programme features an array of internationally celebrated names and the sounds, rhythms and sights of a global cast ofperformers. Expo 2020 Dubai is open every day until 31 March 2022, from 10am to midnight from Saturday to Wednesday and 10am to 2am on Thursday and Friday.

Millions around the world watch Opening Ceremony as Expo 2020 Dubai's virtual platform launches

Millions of viewers, from every continent on Earth, tuned in virtually to witness Expo 2020 Dubai's Opening Ceremony, as more than three million people globally accessed the contents and experienced the newly developed interactive online platform VirtualExpo.world in the first 24 hours after it was launched to the world.

Enhancing the experience of Expo 2020, and bringing the thrill of the event to any connected device, anywhere in the world, at any time, VirtualExpo.world offers new ways to discover the first World Expo in the Arab world. As Dubai brings the world to Expo 2020, Virtual Expo takes Expo 2020 to the world — and as Dubai welcomes 192 participating countries, people from those nations will be able to witness Expo 2020 from all over the planet.

Building on a promise made in 2013 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, that Expo 2020 Dubai would deliver the most advanced digital experience for aWorld Expo ever, Virtual Expo is an exciting representation of the physical event, which visitors can easily access and interact withaway from the site. Features include immersive 360-degree videos of country and thematic pavilions, viewings of live entertainment, audio guides and podcasts, children's animatics video tour, gaming through Minecraft and live interactive tours on Twitch platforms.

Pavilions can be explored virtually from the convenience of a laptop, tablet or smartphone, with the Opening Ceremony and Closing Ceremony transformed into interactive Minecraft experiences, while a dedicated Expo 2020 Dubai Minecraft: Education Edition features lesson plans for teachers to use in their classrooms, presenting a. deeper dive into the event's themes and subthemes through immersive play. Rehan Asad, Chief Programme Officer, Expo 2020 Dubai, said: "Expo 2020 Dubai offers the most innovative digital, virtual and augmented Expo experience, and the concept of virtual visitation, for the first time at a World Expo. We are committed to honouring the promise of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and delivering the best virtual Expo experience to millions of people around the world. Last night's global audience from every continent on Earth, who tuned in and experienced the breath-taking Opening Ceremony online, powerfully shows how committed.we are delivering on this.

"The Virtual Expo goes beyond the digital representations of the site and pavilions, allowing visitors to connect and create, interact and engage with Expo 2020 content, experiencing it in a way that best suits them, from any device, anywhere in the world."

Virtual visitors to Expo can access online content now, with an expanded, more immersive version launching in the following weeks. Thursday's Opening Ceremony was broadcast live on VirtualExpo.world, and a multiplayer Minecraft experience will allow users to 'attend' the showcase as avatars, enjoy fireworks synchronised to Expo 2020 music, and engage in custom gameplay that will have them jumping through time-travel portals to experience past World Expos.

Virtual Expo is also offering Live@Expo interactive tours, with a physical guide on site, allowing groups to collectively watch through their devices and decide where they want to go and what they want to see. The tours have a gaining element, with users able to earn points and improve their place on aleaderboard.

There are also two Virtual Expo apps, available for iOS and Android platforms. The official Expo app for on-site visitors has augmented-reality experiences, such as treasure hunts and digital installations, while the off-site Xplorer app presents Expo as an explorable virtual world, capturing all of the fun and excitement o f the physical event.