Expo Dubai 2020

Expo Dubai 2020 Opening Ceremony
Event Expo

From desert to destination: How we helped build the largest ever World Expo sitE


On 30th September 2021, Expo 2020 Dubai opened with a stunning ceremony featuring hundreds of performers in a show that was broadcast live around the world. Signifying the start of 182 days of entertainment, it is the first Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia and the most ambitious one yet. For 6 months, 192 participating countries will be spread over 3 main districts – Sustainability, Mobility and Opportunity, connecting people and places like never before.

As Technical Consultants for Expo 2020 Dubai Event and Entertainment Division, Wonder Works were responsible for ensuring that the multiple stakeholders understood the major technical requirements and helped steer the production process through an array of challenges. From concept and technical design to production management, engineering, budgeting and procurement, we utilised all of our expertise to help deliver an exceptional event destination that will have a lasting legacy in the region. 

When we first started work on Expo 2020 Dubai in Jan 2019, the scale of the project was relatively unknown. Luckily Chief Events and Entertainment Officer, Tareq Ghosheh spent a year travelling the globe to find the very best team for the job and his efforts certainly paid off. In 2019, the scope was focused on the spectacular 67.5m tall trellis centerpiece – Al Wasl Plaza, with an aim to provide a world class ‘house’ technical overlay for visiting productions and the ambitious Opening Ceremony. We investigated and presented multiple creative and technical solutions, trying to balance the ambitious needs of the client with the practicalities of working in such a challenging environment. 

We designed staging, rigging and automation systems, and all of the bespoke brackets, trusses and towers to allow the complex audio and lighting system to blend seamlessly into the space. But as Expo’s ambitions for the site grew, so did our role in this significant project. Our scope rapidly expanded in 2020, to include supporting the creative development and technical design and coordination of the Jubilee Stage, Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre, DEC Hall and three smaller District stages. 

We’ve had the pleasure of working with key members of the Expo team – Executive Creative Director Amna Abulhoul, Vice President of Production & Operations Kylie Mcomish, Vice President of Ceremonies and Programming Kate Randall, and Vice President of Technical William Ainley, and top industry experts and good friends including Adam Bassett from WBD, and Scott Willsallen from Auditoria. Tareq Ghosheh, Dubai Expo 2020 Chief Events and Entertainment Office said: 

“It’s been a pleasure working with Wonder Works on so many different aspects of Expo 2020 Dubai. The team bring great experience, honesty and enthusiasm to each and every challenge we faced. They have been instrumental in making the project a great success.” 


Having worked on some of the world’s most spectacular ceremonies and large-scale events in the region, our team of specialists are well placed to provide the technical insight and experience that is needed to drive creativity. Working with an incredibly talented team across the Expo site, we were able to instil confidence and encourage creative ideas by providing assurance that their vision was possible. Piers Shepperd, Wonder Works said: 

“Our creative insight matched with solid technical and practical experience, allowed the Expo 2020 Dubai team to be confident and bold with their thinking. Being on hand to say ‘it’s possible, this is how we make it happen, this is what it will look like, and it’ll cost this much allows everybody to have a far more efficient production process.” 


Nowhere is this better seen than at the Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre, a venue that we’re particularly proud of. Located in Al Forsan Park, this amphitheatre is an intimate outdoor venue with a capacity for 2,000 guests. With the help of talented sculptor Jaqueline Pyle and Executive Creative Director Amna Abulhoul, we designed a beautiful Ghaf tree which wraps itself around the proscenium arch. This gives the venue a unique identity, transforming it into a truly inspiring space for everyone to enjoy. 

Our significant investment in Trimble SX10 3D scanning and surveying played a pivotal role in this project. Thanks to Wonder Works’ Technical Designer and CAD expert Ben O’Neill, we were able to capture ‘as built’ 3D information across the complicated sites. Having this technology and expertise in-house allowed us to present exact renders of each venue, and proceed quickly to engineering and fabrication drawings, making the design process significantly faster and more efficient. 

Ben was on site for almost a year along with Wonder Works Production Manager Rebekah Hanbury, and Technical Staging Manager Nick Evans. This core team worked tirelessly to help deliver what is being billed as the “World’s Greatest Show” and we are incredibly proud to have played such a pivotal role in its creation. 


The project brought together many world class event and production specialists including; AGB Events, Artists in Motion, Auditoria, David Atkins Enterprises, Five Currents, Flash Entertainment, The Fridge, HQ, Woodroffe Bassett Design. Agora, Al Laith, Creative Technology, Neumann & Müller, Riedel, Showtex, Stage One, Unusual Rigging, VK Exhibitions.