UK to explore how creativity can solve global challenges at Expo 2020 Dubai

Can creativity save the world? Speakers announced for a programme of events designed to explore how creativity can tackle major global challenges.

20 April 2021:

Can creativity save the world? This November, great minds from across the UK’s world-renowned creative industries will come together at Expo 2020 Dubai to explore how creativity can tackle some of the major challenges of our time.

How can creativity be harnessed to secure the future of both people and planet? What will that future look like, from the cities we will live in to the content we will consume? How can we best nurture creative talent and creativity to ensure that our lives continue to be enriched and inspired by it. These are some of the questions that will be discussed by leading figures from the worlds of art, design and media during ‘In the Future, How will we Create?, taking place in the UK Pavilion from 9-13th November,under the UK's participation theme, Innovating for a Shared Future.

Speakers in a series of panel discussions, presentations and podcasts will include artist and designer Es Devlin, who devised the concept for the UK Pavilion with global brand experience agency Avantgarde, and Martin Green CBE, the Head of Ceremonies for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games who is now Chief Creative Officer for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and Festival UK 2022. Visitors to the UK Pavilion will also be able to experience interactive activations, exhibitions and showcases designed to bring the UK’s creative industries to life.

The five days of activities will include a summit on the future of creativity. Marcus Fairs, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Dezeen will chair a panel discussion on ‘Creating the Cities of the Future’ and Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum Dr Tristram Hunt will explore how the creative industries can deliver sustainable change and cultural advancement.

Extraordinary Insights’ into real-world case studies of creative change. These include a look at sustainable architecture with Simon Fraser, Senior Partner of Hopkins Architects and leader of the team that designed the thematic districts for Expo 2020 Dubai. Other speakers include Professor Sophy Smith, Professor in Creative Technologies Practice and Director of the Institute of Creative Technologies at De Montfort University.

A creativity-focused podcast series will also run alongside the events and will feature Martin Green CBE, Helen Brunsdon, Director, British Animation Awards, and Professor Tracy Harwood, Professor of Digital Culture at De Montfort University.

Laura Faulkner OBE, UK Commissioner General for Expo 2020 Dubai, says: “Creativity is the spark for innovation and is absolutely vital for imagining solutions to global challenges. The UK has long inspired the world through our creative industries, so I am looking forward to hearing our leading cultural thinkers share their ideas for how to nurture these skills with our international partners in Dubai.

All events will be hosted in the stunning UK Pavilion, a must see highlight of the Expo 2020 Dubai campus which occupies a prime location in the Opportunity District, near to the central Al Wasl Dome and Plaza. The UK’s participation theme is ‘Innovating for a Shared Future.

The first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region and the largest event ever held in the Arab world, Expo 2020 Dubai will now open on 1 October 2021. Further details of the ‘How will we Create?’ and the rest of the UK programme will be announced throughout the year as the event grows closer.


UK creativity facts

  • UK creative industries generate more than £100bn a year to the UK economy and employ more than 2m people. (Source: Creative Industries Council)

  • Creative industries continued to power the growth of the UK's workforce last year, adding new posts at twice the rate of the rest of the economy. (Source: Creative Industries Council)

  • The UK creative industries exported £35.6bn of services in 2018, the latest available year of data. Exports of creative services account for 12 per cent of all UK service exports. The value of these exports grew by 8.9 per cent between 2017 and 2018. (Source: Creative Industries Council)

  • Researchers have found that listening to music releases dopamine, the ‘feel-good’ chemical in your brain, and that dopamine was up to 9% higher when listening to music that you enjoy. (Source: Mind)

  • The UK is a world centre of architectural education with over 50 schools and more than 10 in London alone. (Source: Architects Journal)

  • There are around 400,000 listed buildings in the UK. (Source: Historic England)

The UK at Expo 2020 Dubai

The UK is participating in Expo 2020 Dubai, taking place from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022. More than 190 nations are taking part with 70% of the visitors expected from around the world. The overarching theme for Expo 2020 Dubai is ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’. Under the theme ‘Innovating for a Shared Future’, the UK’s participation will boost the country’s global reputation, drive future partnerships and provide long term economic benefit.


The UK’s participation in Expo 2020 Dubai will be led by the Department for International Trade (DIT), with support from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, the Department for Culture, Media & Sport, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, the Department for Transport, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and the Devolved Administrations. The UK’s presence will consist of a self-build country Pavilion, based in the ‘Opportunity’ district and an accompanying business, cultural, tourism and education events programme.

Find out more on the UK at Expo 2020 Dubai website