Expo 2020 Dubai – exploring space
Mita Srinivasan
10x Industry

Expo 2020 Dubai – exploring space

This week our selection of stories focuses on all the space-related announcements, the future of fashion and UN Day at Expo 2020 Dubai

Expo 2020 celebrates Space Week

Visitors to Expo 2020 Dubai were taken on an interstellar voyage, as Al Wasl Plaza, home to the world’s largest 360-degree projection surface, showcased a space-themed immersive show entitled Cosmos. Inspired by Emirati astronaut Hazza Al Mansouri’s flight to the International Space Station, the show welcomed five international astronauts – Andrey Borisenko (Russia), Claude Nicollier (Switzerland), Christer Fugelsang (Sweden), Marcos Pontes (Brazil), Naoko Yamazaki (Japan) – to the stage.

Her Excellency Sarah bint Youssef Al Amiri, UAE Minister of State for Advanced Technology and Chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency, introduced the audience to the new mission announced by the UAE this month to send a spacecraft on a 3.6-billion-kilometre journey to explore the asteroid belt, with the aim of understanding the history of planet formation and future of space exploration.

Space will help humanity to secure its future, and international collaboration is critical to further exploration, according to some of the distinguished panelists from Boeing, Jacobs, Lockheed Martin, and StarLab Oasis as they discussed the latest breakthroughs in space technology and how cross-border exchange will help advance innovation as part of Expo 2020’s Space Week.

Space Week, the second of Expo 2020 Dubai’s 10 Theme Weeks, continued until 23 October, and was held in association with the UAE Space Agency and Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC). It presented an array of content, discussions and more that probed the benefits, solutions and challenges of exploring beyond our planet’s orbit.

UAE Space Agency launches call for proposals to address food security, climate crisis at Expo 2020 Dubai

The UAE Space Agency has launched a new competition offering up to AED 4 million in funding for next-generation proposals that address climate change and food security. Scientists, entrepreneurs, academics and innovators seeking to address some of humanity’s greatest challenges are invited to participate and accelerate the UAE’s knowledge-driven economy.

The competition was announced under the umbrella of the Space Analytics and Solutions (SAS) program was announced in Expo 2020 Dubai’s Space Week and has been launched in partnership with the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE), which is also responsible for food and water security. It aims to find technically feasible, scalable and innovative ideas using data gathered from outer space to create services that support agricultural or environmental practices. This could be using data to map and monitor greenhouse gas emissions or analyzing soil moisture levels to boost crop yields.

Two projects will be selected from the competition. They will each receive up to AED 2 million in funding, technical support, assistance from leading experts, and help to secure commercial partnerships and reach customers. In addition to developing cutting-edge applications for the future economy, the program aims to enhance the competitiveness of the UAE space industry, encourage public-private partnerships, upskill talent and strengthen the national space ecosystem.

Climate change and food security are two of the world’s biggest challenges. In 2019, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were higher than at any time in at least two million years while close to 750 million – nearly one in 10 people around the world – were exposed to severe levels of food insecurity during the same year. Urgent action is needed to address both issues and the UAE Space Agency aims to find solutions to tackle them.

Future of responsible fashion on display at UK Pavillion

With less than one per cent of all garments recycled, collaboration across a plethora of skillsets is key to a bright future for responsible and sustainable fashion, says the curator of an innovation-focused fashion showcase at the UK Pavilion.

Among developments on display were holographic fibre and 3D printing, alongside other wonder materials – some created using space-age technologies or ancient materials in unexpected new ways.

A DMU research team, led by Dr Lerpiniere and Jinsong Shen, Professor of Textile Chemistry and Biotechnology, has researched more sustainable methods of dyeing clothes, including biodegradable enzymes in natural fungi to add colour – avoiding the use of conventional, synthetic dyes that have harmful effects on the environment and human beings.

Other methods the team exhibited include laser-assisted processes for textile surface coloration and patterning, enzyme biotechnology for machine-washable wool, electroforming for metallised embellishment on textiles, and the use of sustainable bast fibres (flax, hemp and nettle fibres).

The ‘Future of Textiles’ was part of ‘In the Future, What Will we Wear?’, a series of talks, exhibitions, interactive digital displays, workshops, performances and experiences at the UK Pavilion from 22-27 October that considered how the global fashion industry can evolve to address a range of challenges that were raised during recent editions of London Fashion Week.

UN Deputy Secretary-General visits UN Pavillion in Expo 2020

United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, has commended the UAE leadership for delivering a meaningful World Expo, despite challenges caused by the pandemic, describing Expo 2020 Dubai as a solid building block towards implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on the road to Agenda 2030.

Visiting Expo 2020 Dubai as part of the United Nations Honour Day, Mohammed was welcomed by Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General, Expo 2020 Dubai, and Najeeb Mohammed Al-Ali, Executive Director, Commissioner General Office, Expo 2020 Dubai.

Amina Mohammed said: “With 192 nations represented, Expo is an auspicious occasion to mark 76 years of multilateralism of nations and people working together towards a better world for everyone, guided by our founding document, the Charter of the United Nations. I’m very heartened to hear that sustainability is a common theme in all pavilions and that the SDGs are incorporated in many of the Expo’s presentations. I offer my sincere gratitude and recognise the leadership of the UAE for bringing the world together, nations united, here at the Expo, and for doing so with so much grace, efficiency and inspiration, and for being a generous and reliable partner to the United Nations in our humanitarian and development cause.”

The #UNHub also focuses on programming that champions international cooperation and the SDGs for the Decade of Action. The United Nations has partnered with Expo 2020 Dubai through comprehensive programming and a series of events and cultural activities that engage visitors of all ages and backgrounds, complementing and amplifying Expo 2020’s Programme for People and Planet.

UN Honour Day was marked with a variety of events at Al Wasl Plaza and the #UNHub, including a cultural performance by the Emirates Youth Symphony Orchestra (EYSO) – a group of young musicians from the UAE and the Arab world devoted to cultivating the musical talent of youth – and the opening of a photography exhibition marking the UN’s 76th anniversary.

The exhibition – #TheWorldWeWant – runs until the conclusion of Expo 2020, and has been curated from more than 50,000 images from 130-plus countries. It is located at the plaza of Mission Possible – The Opportunity Pavilion just across from the #UNHub, which is also hosting a special SDG Art Exhibit, with original pieces by artists from around the world, aimed at inspiring action and understanding of the SDGs.