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Expo 2020 Dubai, the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, is set to change the face of a city whose face is always, already, constantly in flux.

About halfway between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the 1,000-acre “District 2020” will eventually have multiple parks, a dedicated metro station, and more than 200 restaurants and food venues. (After the expo wraps, the government plans to turn the site into a LEED Gold certified tech and education hub.)

The country’s fraught record on labor issues has brought heightened scrutiny to the endeavor, but a whopping 192 countries have signed on to join in the festivities, including Iran, Israel, and Qatar, three nations with whom the U.A.E. has had strained diplomatic relationships.

The program will feature 60 live shows every day, including “Al Wasl,” the first Emirati opera, scored by American composer Mohammed Fairouz with a libretto by Emirati writer Maha Gargash. And for the first time ever, each and every nation, from China to Djibouti, will have its own pavilion.

During its run, which begins in October, the city expects to receive around 25 million visitors. It’s not often we get to publish the words “an event the likes of which the world has never seen” — but in this case, whatever you think of the whole expo enterprise, it certainly applies.

The Dubai is evocative, to say the least, but that's why you're drawn to it in the first place.
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