A group of over 90 participants embarked on a much-awaited journey to the Expo 2020 site in Dubai. The trip was part of a curated two-day youth excursion where participants could see themselves as guardians of the universe protecting the future of our world.

Through the exploration of human imagination, intellect and future technologies at the Expo site, the group discovered ways of building a sustainable, equitable world that is grounded in the Muslim values of leadership, pluralism, and ideals.

In a world that largely attributes innovation, technology and development to the western world, Expo 2020 opened participants to the legacy of Muslim intellectual tradition coming alive.  It was astounding to see 192 countries come together to participate in generating ideas and possible solutions to critical challenges facing humanity today.

Expo 2020 provided us with a unique platform to ponder humanity as a whole, and the idea of working together as a shared humanity. It encouraged us to unite our resources and intellectual capacities to know one another as mentioned in Qur’an (49:13), “we have created you into tribes and nations so that you may know one another”.  It also helped us to forget our differences and work towards a more egalitarian world under the values of a cosmopolitan ethic, as emphasised by His Highness the Aga Khan.

Expo 2020, Dubai was built on three major pillars: opportunity, sustainability, and mobility – all of which came together under world-class architecture, showcasing mesmerising displays of art, culture, and flavour. A major objective of this visit to Expo 2020 was to awaken participants to the realisation that our world is facing serious socio-political, cultural, economic, environmental, and ethical challenges. Thus, as leaders, innovators and thinkers of tomorrow, how can we put our heads together to find creative solutions to these critical challenges facing humanity.

Divided in age-wise groups, the group embarked on independent journeys to explore the Expo 2020 site, to observe how different countries presented the connection from past to present, and to learn about what they hoped to build for the future. They interacted in a diverse environment, allowing an insight into how diversity can be navigated for understanding and growth. They reflected on the intellectual capacity of human beings to create a world grounded in the ethical values reflected in the Qur’an.

Counsellor Sasha Gulamani commented, “Personally, I learned a lot about the diversity that Expo 2020 encompasses. It was interesting to see how Expo 2020 fostered a pluralistic society through its numerous themes throughout the pavilions.  Further, when diving deeper into the districts of opportunity, sustainability and mobility, one can see how individuals globally have been able to come together to create long term sustainability and social impact.  Being able to participate at the Expo 2020 with the Youth was truly eye opening, as it was fascinating to see how students interpreted the meanings behind various pavilions and applied that knowledge to their learnings. Overall, a truly inspiring experience!”

Highlighting the impact of this trip, one participant commented, “it changed my understanding as I now know what we humans are capable of,” and another one said, “instead of modernising everything, keeping the learning from the past permits us to maintain our cultures and understand what brought us to this point.” Another fascinated youth said, “After getting to explore so much about different countries' stances on the future, we could clearly see how AI and technology are a common theme. A great example of this was the Belgium pavilion.  The entire pavilion revolved around Belgium in 2050, and how the country looks to solve many of today’s challenges.”