Spotlight: The UN Identifies the UAE as Regional Leader as Expo Counts Record Visitors

The Expo 2020 Dubai picks up the pace with now over 6 million visitors through its doors as the UAE is ranked first in the MENA region in the United Nations’ Global Knowledge Index (GKI) 2021.

The Expo 2020 Dubai has now counted 6,358,464 million visitors (as of 13 December) who have all engaged with the wide range of events that the Expo has to offer. This figure coincides with the announcement that the UAE has been ranked first in the Arab world in the United Nations’ GKI 2021, which was recently unveiled at the UN Hub at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Drawn by the event’s 191 country pavilions, including those of Malaysia, Luxembourg, Israel, Canada and Thailand, the attendance of 6 million+ people has been sustained by a series of musical events, sporting fixtures, the celebrations of National Days, and family-friendly entertainment.

The Latest Happenings of Expo 2020 Dubai

On 10 December, visitors to the Expo’s Al Wasl Plaza were greeted by a performance by the American singer Alecia Keys, who sang a message of love, hope, innovation, and making realities out of dreams. She used the event to promote her newly-launched album ‘Keys’, with its live stream drawing 5 million (30 million total) views through the Expo’s website.

Speaking on why she chose the Expo to debut her new album, Keys said: “It just felt so perfect to launch Keys in Dubai. Expo 2020 Dubai knows no borders; it is envisioning a future we all want to create.”

Two days later on 12 December, a similar musical event led by Indian singer Neha Kakkar and accompanied by the Expo World Choir, featuring singers and musicians from 142 different nationalities, regaled crowds at Jubilee Park, inspiring onlookers to live life to the fullest.

The Expo’s Dubai Exhibition Centre also celebrated chess success. Magnus Carlsen secured the one point he needed to cross the seven-point threshold to win against challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi after nine games.

On a similar note, Georgia’s grandmaster Nona Gaprindashvili (the supposed inspiration behind The Queen’s Gambit) took part in a panel discussion around women’s empowerment challenges and achievements at the Dubai Exhibition Centre on 13 December, followed by a match between the grandmasters and Dubai Culture and Chess Club members at Al Wasl Plaza.

Further upcoming attractions include Jubilee Park’s ‘Brainiac Live,’ a science show taking place on 15 December. A day later, the Jubilee stage will host a diverse mix of global musical talent; whilst Egyptian singer Mohammed Ramadan is expected to perform a standalone concert on Jubilee Stage on 18 December.

The UN’s Verdict

The UN’s GKI 2021 has labelled the UAE as a knowledge leader within the MENA region. The title was unveiled at the Expo’s UN Hub on 13 December by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation (MBRF).

The GKI is the sole index that measures knowledge on a global scale, and has been produced annually since 2017 by the UNDP in partnership with MBRF. Now in its edition, the index includes 155 variables carefully selected by more than 40 international sources and databases.

Speaking on the GKI, Jamal bin Huwaireb, CEO, of MBRF, said: “The world is not completely out of the grip of COVID-19, but without doubt what stands out as we negotiated these trying times is the relentless quest for knowledge that led us to develop vaccines, as well as remedial and precautionary measures against the virus. Obviously, this continuing focus on knowledge and its triumph is what has led us to bring back careful normalcy in our daily life, and what has enabled this face-to-face meeting today.”

The UAE ranked 11th in the world, while Switzerland remained first globally for the fifth consecutive year, followed by Sweden, the USA, Finland and the Netherlands. Qatar (38), Saudi Arabia (40), Kuwait (48), Oman (52), Egypt (53) and Bahrain (55) all also featured in the top 60.

The GKI saw increased participation among countries in the region, as well as around the world highlighting the rising global commitment towards placing knowledge as a cornerstone of economic and social growth.

A total of 154 countries participated in the GKI 2021, compared with 138 last year. For the first time, Iraq and Palestine joined the portfolio of regional countries that participated, bringing the total to 16.

Dena Assaf, United Nations Resident Coordinator for the United Arab Emirates and Deputy Commissioner General for the UN at Expo 2020Dena Assaf, United Nations Resident Coordinator for the United Arab Emirates and Deputy Commissioner General for the UN at Expo 2020
Dena Assaf

Dena Assaf, United Nations Resident Coordinator for the United Arab Emirates and Deputy Commissioner General for the UN at Expo 2020, added: “When the world stands at these challenging crossroads, the increased global participation at GKI is a robust indicator of how knowledge is the single most factor that will help world nations prosper and lead in front for the benefit of posterity with a sustainable focus.

“In this context, the GKI series has developed into an accepted and prudent benchmark in assessing knowledge-based societies and their growth.”

The launch ceremony was followed by a panel discussion titled Rethinking Policymaking in the Age of Knowledge, with the participation of Hussain Al Hammadi, UAE Minister of Education;  Dr. Tarek Shawki, Egypt’s Minister of Education; Ahmed Hanandeh, Jordan’s Minister of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship; and Dr. Fadia Kiwan, Director General, Arab Women Organisation.

  • Tyler is a Fintech Junior Journalist with specific interests in Online Banking and emerging AI technologies. He began his career writing with a plethora of national and international publications.

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.