After eight years of planning and billions of dollars in spending, the Middle East's first ever World Fair opened on Friday in Dubai, with hopes the months-long extravaganza draws both visitors and global attention to this desert-turned-dreamscape.
Named Expo 2020, the event was postponed by a year due to the outbreak of the coronavirus last year.
While that could have an impact on how many people flock to the United Arab Emirates, the six-month-long exhibition offers Dubai a momentous opportunity to showcase its unique East-meets-West appeal as a place where all are welcome for business.
Not long ago, the site of the 1,080 acre (438 hectare) expo was barren desert.
Less than a decade later, it is a buzzing futuristic landscape with robots, a new metro station, multi-million dollar pavilions and so-called districts with names like "sustainability" and "opportunity" - all built, like much of the Gulf, by low-paid migrant workers.
Organizers say 192 nations are represented at the expo.
Since first making a splash in London in 1851, world fairs have long been an opportunity for nations to meet, exchange ideas, showcase inventions, promote culture and build business ties.
For more than a century, these global exhibitions have captured the imagination and showcased some of humanity's most important innovations.
This year's expo is happening amid a global pandemic, when untold numbers are still working and studying remotely — and connecting to the world virtually.
It's unclear how many visitors Dubai can attract, and how much the expo will stimulate its tourism-driven economy, but organisers maintained their goal to have 25 million people pass through its gates.
To enter the expo site, visitors will need to show a negative PCR test or proof of COVID-19 vaccination.