The Pearl of the Emirates - Expo Dubai 2020

The Pearl of the Emirates - Expo Dubai 2020


Dubai, UAE



The three Pearls Scitech Plaza The Heart of a City - Melun Sénart


UAE Pavilion at the Expo 2020 Dubai

For the first time since the Great Exhibition of 1851 the World Expo 2020 is held in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia region. With Dubai as the chosen host, the UAE pavilion will be one of the Expo’s main attractions and become the central United Arab Emirates exhibition space for communi­cating its theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ with sub themes of ‘Opportunity’, ‘Mobility’ and ‘Sustain­ability’.

The concept of the PEARL OF THE EMIRATES refers to these three 2020 Expo themes, also poetically recalling the past when the pearl of the oyster was the major source of wealth in the Emirates long before the discovery of oil and was essential to sustaining the indigenous population.

The importance of the pearl is honoured as it played a criti­cal role before the discovery of oil resources in bringing both Dubai and The United Arab Emirates to where they are now prominent in the World.

Form and function

The Pearl is set into a landscaped Lagoon surrounded by an Energy Garden of native mangroves, which have recently been scientifically accepted as one of the most sustainable species of flora in the UAE. Together, the saltwater lagoon and desert dunes fringed with palm trees bring the past into the present.

The smaller Pearls in the landscape produce a natural cycle of water desalination for the daily sustainable supply of fresh water to the lagoons to ensure that water salinity is kept at acceptable levels for the wellbeing of the mangroves.

Access walkways connect the Pearl with the surrounding shaded pedestrian walkways and architecturally produce the Pearl’s iconic setting rising serenely out of the water.

The Pearl is constructed of seven kinetic individual petals faced with white marble. With the path of the sun the pet­als slowly, yet dramatically, open and close and reveal its precious interior that stands for the future with the seven exhibition spaces of the seven Emirates of the UAE.

With its fluid movement connected to the diurnal cycle of the sun during the day and also at night, the opening of the pearl represents the interconnectedness of past, present and future.

The free use of the cooling air to aid the Pavilion’s mechani­cal system employs the same principals of the long accepted tradition of the Bastakiya wind towers gently cooling the interior spaces.


One of the main challenges of any Expo is to reduce visitor waiting time and to smoothly transport the many visitors through the exhibition areas of the Pavilion. The circulation through the UAE Pavilion therefore has been critically considered within the architecture spaces through utilizing latest pedestrian flow software technology in a similar fashion to that available for planning passenger movement through major International Airports. Using this state of the art computer aided technique eliminates all congestion points. Instead of a typical pavilion where people wait in long lines outside the building, with our design the user experiences the exhibition while being brought to the exhibition areas.

Preprogrammed electronic information onto hand held devices will inform visitors of their individual times and optimum viewing experience to the Pavilion. This reduces queueing in line for what will be undoubtedly the most visited Pavilion of the 2020 Expo with estimated 25 million visitors.

The exhibition path ends in the basement where the auditorium, multi- media room, refreshment spaces and shops are located. A special under water glass roof completes the architectural experience, with the entire journey through the pavilion symbolizing the connection of sky, earth and sea.

Three different access paths are available to bring visitors up to the top of the Pavilion viewing platform.

The primary visitor access is via two large bridges from the central Al Wasl using the spiralling escalators inside the Pearl. The secondary means of access uses the Falcon Flight, which takes visitors directly to the top of the Building and provides dramatic views over the entire Expo area and as far away as to the Sea and the Burj Khalifa. Thirdly, there is elevator access for VIPs.




  • Site Area 20,488 m²
  • Gross Floor Area 19,941 m²
  • Footprint 2,370 m²
  • Building Height 87 m
  • Building Length 105 m
  • Building Width 105 m



Planning: COOP HIMMELB(L)AU Wolf D. Prix & Partner ZT GmbH
Design Principal/CEO: Wolf D. Prix
Design Partner: Karolin Schmidbaur
Project Partner: Markus Prossnigg
Design Architects: Jan Markus Ludwig, Stephan Sobel
Project Architect: Pete Rose
Business Development: Richard Giddings

Project Team: Denitsa Parleva, Risa Kagami, Cecilia Sannella, Benjamin Schmidt, Daniel Bolojan
Model Building: Win Man 

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