Shaun Vorster on Organising Expo 2020

Event Africa Contributor 30/07/2019 Industry Events
Expo 2020 Shaun Vorster UAE Dubai

South African professional Shaun Vorster shares his experience and insight into the business events and exhibitions sector as MD of Dubai’s much-anticipated Expo 2020.

This article was first featured in Issue 3 of Event Africa.

Shaun Vorster is the VP of Business Integration and Activations at Dubai’s Expo 2020, a six-month long exhibition that takes place next year. As a South African national, he shares his expertise on the local and international industry, as well as what to expect as excitement mounts for the expo’s launch in October 2020.

Shaun Vorster Expo 2020 UAE Dubai

What role do you play on the team?

I play many different roles, but amongst others, I am landlord of the Dubai Exhibition Centre, a 45 000m² centre, and I am also heading up the MICE marketing and sales team. I am responsible for the business programmes that we curate to unlock value for the Expo. Thirdly, I am also VP of Programming, so in the public realm we will commission and create programming for the 150 000 visitors who attend events outside and inside the venue daily. There are 22 performance stages and spaces, plus indoor spaces at the centre. The stages and spaces are for different kinds of programming, such as live entertainment, arts and culture, gastronomy, youth, wellness, happiness, thought leadership, inspirational seminars, and business programming. There are different kinds of ways to celebrate humanity and innovation, human ingenuity, diversity.

What does UAE want out of Expo 2020?

It’s all about legacy. There’s a physical legacy, so the infrastructure – a commercially viable site. There’s an educational legacy of bringing countries together, fostering cooperation and partnership. Then there’s the aspirational legacy of making a change. That’s ultimately what it’s about – connecting minds and creating a future. If we can have a transformative impact on the future, we’ll be successful. We have 25 million touch points – visits – so if we can make a difference and inspire young people to pursue careers in the STEMs, to become the next generation of innovation champions, to focus on social impact and enterprise, then we will have been successful. Also changing perceptions about this part of the world would be a key reputational outcome. Then for the 190+ countries, Expo 2020 is not an end goal, it’s a milestone on a multi-decade development journey. As long as we have a long-term vision of legacy with all our partners, we will have success.

Fast Facts

  • The expo takes place for 173 days from 20 October 2020 to 10 April 2021
  • Expo 2020 takes place 7 days a week with 60 daily live shows and 192 country pavilions
  • The UAE Pavilion is a glorious, falcon-inspired design
  • The Mobility Pavilion will showcase ‘the city of the future’
  • Terra, the Sustainability Pavilion, allows visitors to explore forests, oceans and more
  • Space Week will see UAE share their plans to go to Mars
  • Visitors can co-create and write poetry with AI at the UK Pavilion
  • More than 30 000 volunteers will welcome the world as the ‘face’ of Expo 2020
  • The Expo 2020 Academy will train UAE graduates to deliver mega-events
  • There will be over 200+ restaurants, 50+ cuisines, and 300 000 meals served daily

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