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Colourful Expo Memories

The Dubai Expo 2020 is just around the corner. If you’re not excited yet, read this to learn about the impact that visiting the Vancouver Expo made on one expat.

I remember making small talk with my mom in my parents’ bedroom, my feet dug into royal blue shag carpet that suited the 1980’s, when I spotted them—little paper booklets on the dresser.

“What are these?” Eight-year-old me quizzed my mom.

“They are passports for Expo ’86.” She carried on explaining what passports are and casually mentioned that we would visit this new experience in Vancouver, Canada.

As a small-town girl whose world was locked between mountains and sea on the Canada-USA border, a passport was a new concept for me. These little books were my introduction to global geography. Knowing that this world’s fair was so big I needed a passport to track what I would see might have been the origin of my wanderlust.

With curiosity and excitement, I attended the Expo several times in 1986. We visited different countries in their pavilions, collecting our stamps from place like Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Cuba, the USSR, Singapore, the United States, Canada, and 47 other countries. Each pavilion worked to share their culture and hospitality from around the globe. Not only was this a beautiful exhibit representing our global diversity, I wondered if it was the closest that I would come to visiting these actual places.

Watching the short film “Rainbow War” tied the experience together and was my most impactful Expo memory. The film, by director/producer Bob Rogers, is a timeless story of three primary coloured kingdoms (red, yellow, and blue). At first each kingdom only sees their foreign differences, but they eventually discover that their individual colours can come together to create a full rainbow. Although, I was young, this planted a seed in my mind about understanding the wealth of our human diversity in a way that can make humanity stronger – a lesson we can all continually learn.

Thirty-four years on and many real passport stamps later, I’m thrilled to be working for Expo 2020 Dubai’s Official Programme Delivery Management Provider, Jacobs Mace, as the Marketing and Communication Manager for Jacobs in the Middle East. From this role, I’ve caught that captivating spirit from my first Expo experience and can feel that childlike wonder for Expo 2020 bubbling over. I imagine a whole new generation of children are getting excited to interact with the themes of opportunity, mobility, and sustainability that will spark imagination and curiosity in their young minds—hopefully opening a brilliant world of colours and opportunity for them as well.

Don’t miss the opportunity to be a part of the World’s Greatest Show at Expo 2020 Dubai! Learn more at

Words by Andrea Rip, a Canadian-American, marketing and communication professional. Andrea has lived in places as far reaching as the deserts of Antarctica the UAE and has lived the past 4.5 years in Abu Dhabi. She has travelled 58 countries and counting. Follow her on Instagram @TheEarthInk or

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