We often view creativity and technology differently, but when they meet, problems can be solved, trends are made, and exciting new solutions are born.
At the beginning of September, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai (or ‘Fazza’ as he’s rather more affectionately known) shared a photo of his father on Instagram. In it, his father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the ruler of Dubai, is pictured twice in the same spot – in 2016 and 2021. The same man, in the same place, five years apart, and the difference is breathtaking – from desert to city in under 2000 days. As ‘before and after’ shots go, it’s pretty epic.
Looking at it now, with Expo 2020 Dubai in full swing, it’s nearly impossible to believe, but this in itself is part of the magic. Over the next six months, an estimated 25 million people will be visiting this magnificent former desert to discover ‘the world in one place’. But besides being an extraordinary spectacle, Expo has a long history of introducing the world to inventions, ideas, innovation and architecture that have gone on to play important roles in each of our lives, and shaped the world we live in. For example, did you know that the Eiffel Tower was built in just two years when Paris hosted their expo? Or that Heinz ketchup made its Expo debut in 1876? And the television? Yes, that was launched at an Expo too. Even the very first touchscreen was brought to the world’s attention all the way back in 1982 at The World Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee. And for the sweet toothed, you might be surprised to know that the ice cream cone and Cherry Coke were both Expo firsts.
The very first World Expo was held in London and called ‘The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations’. Despite the less than catchy name, it was a huge success, showcasing and celebrating modern industrial technology and design. It attracted six million visitors, including some very famous faces – Queen Victoria herself is said to have visited no less than 34 times. It’s been a fixture on the global calendar ever since and has been held across Europe, America, Australia and Asia. However, Expo 2020 Dubai is its first time in the Middle East, lending it even more significance for the many thousands of people who live and work in Dubai.
But Dubai is far from alone in benefiting from Expo. Terra – the Sustainability Pavilion – is already turning heads for its cutting-edge sustainability solutions, including a greywater recycling system that aims to reduce water use by 75%, as well as its nearly 5000 built-in solar panels. Andrew Whalley of Grimshaw Architects, the UK-based practice that designed Terra, explains, “We wanted to demonstrate that you could do an entirely self-sufficient building, that’s not only self-sufficient for its energy, but self-sufficient for water. So, it’s net zero energy. Net zero water. And technically, that’s an extremely difficult thing to do… but it’s something that all buildings must do within the next decade.” It is these experimental technologies and so many more that will be essential to sustainable construction going forward and form the blueprint for our future smart cities.
Attracting more visitors than the Olympics or the World Cup, the event itself is often described as ‘a global gathering’, with delegations from countries around the world taking advantage of this perfect meeting place. It’s an ideal, ready-made venue to conduct business, build relationships and deepen existing ones. It operates at a magnitude that gives organisations like Canon a unique opportunity to scale up and demonstrate the power and potential of our product portfolio in a real-world setting. For example, in just one facet of our role as Official Printing and Imaging Provider to Expo, we will be managing the print and digital workflow of around 300,000 accredited security passes – making sure that the right people have access to the right places. This is something we do routinely for our customers, but rarely to this degree. At the same time, our Canon Professional Services experts will be looking after the needs of thousands of photojournalists from around the world throughout the event. Our machines and software solutions will be in operation across all back-office operations and used by all our fellow resident companies, quietly powering many of the essential services that keep Expo 2020 Dubai going.