Student Champion for Expo 2020

Maryam Alshehhi was only 13 when Dubai won the bid to host Expo 2020. Now as a NYUAD student champion, she finally understood the importance of that win.

Thinking about the word “Expo” takes me back to 2013 when Dubai was named as the host country for Expo 2020. The 13-year old me did not know what winning the bid would mean for the UAE — I was simply excited because my physics examination was postponed as the country had a day off to celebrate the win. 

Little did I know that seven years later, I would become a NYU Abu Dhabi student champion for the Expo 2020. My role was to organize events and initiate activities to promote the expo within the NYUAD community and lead conversations around this large international event. Together with fellow student champions from other colleges in the UAE, we worked together to brainstorm ideas, share feedback, and serve as a link between the major event and our universities.

A group of NYU Abu Dhabi students taking a group photo at Expo 2020 in Dubai.

We were truly a network of passionate young leaders ready to proudly represent and serve. The virtual setting did not hinder our productivity or ability to engage and exchange ideas. I met students from diverse backgrounds and interests, and took this role as an opportunity to learn and grow from one another. 

As Expo 2020 opens its door this month, I paused and reflected over the past few months of work. What does Expo mean to the UAE and the world? What are we anticipating? How would this Expo be different? And how can I, as a student champion, communicate the themes surrounding the event in a representative manner? 

Maryam Alshehhi, NYU Abu Dhabi Class of 2023.

Being the first Expo in the Middle East region, Expo 2020 is a space for partnership and a place where visitors from all around the world come together. It also coincides with the UAE’s 50th jubilee. The UAE has come a long way from its union and it’s finally time to show the world what Dubai and the UAE are capable of with its appropriate Expo theme: Connecting Minds and Creating the Future. 

Expo 2020 was a fascinating utopia with a glimpse into the future. My favorite pavilion so far was the Alef pavilion. It connects the past, present, and future in one journey around the pavilion. We started the pavilion with well known explorers like Ibn Battuta, and ended in a space filled with flashy lights — a getaway into the future.

With my yellow Expo passport in hand and many more pavilions left to visit, I am ready to continue my role in getting more NYUAD students to explore the world right here from Dubai.

Students holding on to the yellow passports of Expo 2020.