It’s Throw Forward Thursday. My name is Graeme Codrington and this is our final report from Dubai Expo 2022. Weeks ago, I spent a few days at the Dubai Expo and it was a remarkable experience. They called it the Greatest show on Earth and I’m really glad that I was able to see it before it finished. There are obviously memories all over the internet and some professionally developed and official videos of Dubai Expo 2020 that you can find online.
I will put links to some of the best ones in the notes for this video or podcast and I highly recommend that you go and have a look at them. But what I’d like to do as a final reflection for you here in Throw Forward Thursday is to look at my first and last moments at Dubai Expo because as I was going through my videos, trying to pick out what I’d like to share with you these two videos and these two moments really did stand out for me and, well, I’ll explain as we go along.
The first moment I arrived, I landed in the morning very early in the morning, going to my hotel, got settled in, changed, hit the Metro, which took about half an hour to get out to the Expo site, got out of the Metro train, walked through the security settings and walked down into the main auditorium called the Alwasal Theatre. And as it happened, there was a children’s show that was on at the moment and children were singing. And literally as I walked into the auditorium, I’m not editing this or cherry picking something. Well, have a look at what I experienced.
I had come to Dubai Expo ready to engage my brain, ready to see the future. And within the first minute I had engaged my heart “We Are the World”, sung by a group of young people who were showcasing their talent for the world to see. It was perfect, actually. It took me a few more hours to realize what had happened. I kind of stood there amazed and enjoying the moment and then said, Right, Graeme, let’s get your head in the game. And if I went up the mobility roadway and dived into a few of the pavilions and sort of getting excited about the technology.
But I realized and I’ve reflected on this two weeks ago in the Throw Forward Thursday video that by lunchtime I had realized that the Expo was not what I thought it was. I thought it was going to be a science fiction vision of the technology driven future, whereas what it was and I think this is what it was intended to be, was a picture of what’s actually possible now and what we not just could be doing, but should be doing in the three themes opportunity, mobility, and I think especially sustainability.
And it was both a head and a heart experience. And I think at the end it was supposed to be a hands experience as well, with an invitation for us to actually do something. And while we are the world to build the world we want to live in, not to wait for somebody else to do that, not to just dream about, hopefully, maybe sometime in the future, but to actually do it, build this world that we want to live in.
The second reflection, and I hope this is not too self indulgent, but was as I left the Expo for the last time, on that main strip between the Owassell auditorium and the Metro train station that takes you out, there were these two heads. They were just heads during the daytime. But as I left in the evening, I realized that they had been lit up with multiple lights that had various patterns and displays on them. They weren’t just heads, they were displays of art. But there they were, these two heads that in the nighttime came alive with artistry and beauty, science and beauty. Well, let me just allow myself in the moment a little bit emotional actually, I think to just reflect on what I was seeing in the moment.
So that’s it. For my first day at Expo 2020 to Dubai. It’s been full and hot and behind me there’s a concert going on in the main auditorium which sounds fantastic. And then as I just switched my gaze a little bit, I realized that at every corner, at every moment, behind every tree, literally, there’s something else to experience here at the Expo. It’s been a day that’s been filled with experiences.
With art, with culture.
With humanity, a lot of sustainability, a lot of history as well as the future.
I’ve loved it.
It’s been great to be here. And I’ll be back on Wednesday to carry on being your window on the future. See you then.
Listening back to that sounds like there might have been a bit of alcohol involved. There wasn’t. Maybe a hotter day in the desert. Sun, of course, had affected me, but affected me is what Dubai Expo did not just impacted me, but affected me. And I think that that was the point.
I don’t think I can transfer that to you in a simple video like this. I think that the Expo was designed to be an experience that people have. So I hope that what you do is put yourself in a place where you can experience what the world not only can be, but should be. If we apply ourselves to solutions and outcomes and development that will ensure that we live in a sustainable world for all of us. A world that is good for everybody to live in, that’s really what we try and do at tomorrow, today. And that’s one of the pieces of the puzzle that these Throw forward Thursday videos are supposed to be they’re not supposed to be. Wow. Visions of the future, whether they are positive or negative, in a sense they are. But the purpose is not just to push your brain into the future and leave it there.
The purpose is to take you to tomorrow and then bring you back to today. That’s why we called our company tomorrow, today and that’s what we as a team try and do all day every day is help our clients get a picture of what can and should be and then work out well, what do we need to do about it today?
So thank you for coming along with me to the Dubai Expo for the last few weeks. I hope you’ve enjoyed some of my experiences of the Dubai Expo if you’d like more insights, if you’d like to get some more detail about some of the things that we saw while we were there and some of the leadership lessons that emerged from it, please feel free to contact us and we will make sure that we send you more info and respond to your particular of questions.
Otherwise, I’ll see you again next week in the Throw forward Thursday studio where we’ve got a little miniseries starting on the future of work.
For the past two decades, Graeme has worked with some of the world’s most recognized brands, travelling to over 80 countries in total, and speaking to around 100,000 people every year. He is the author of 5 best-selling books, and on faculty at 5 top global business schools.