Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General, Expo 2020 Dubai, has unveiled the Expo 2020 Workers’ Monument and paid tribute to the workforce responsible for building the first World Expo held in the Arab world. Her Excellency unveiled the striking and emotive structure, which is an expression of the incredible achievement and spirit of more than 200,000 workers from around the world.
Praising the contribution, dedication and achievement of Expo’s workforce, HE Reem Al Hashimy said: “We wanted to honour the incredible work of more than 200,000 workers and their contribution to Expo 2020 Dubai. Each and everyone deserves to be known, with our sincere thanks and praise, for their tremendous efforts.
“Their dedication to their work has been integral to creating this historic event, the most inclusive World Expo ever. Thanks to your efforts, the planet is able to come together, at a time when international cooperation is most needed, with the collective aim of achieving a better future for us and for future generations.”
The Workers’ Monument, designed by renowned London-based architect Asif Khan, features every worker’s name carved into stone structures. Inspired by the Moon’s metamorphosis in eclipse, the cylindrical columns also reference the traditional science of cartography and the fine engineering seen in astrolabes from the Islamic world.
The colonnade, comprising columns cut from a single monolithic block, is located along the main walkway of Expo’s Jubilee Park, and will be visited by millions from across the world. It reflects a spirit of collaboration that is deeply rooted in the UAE and underpins the vision and ethos of Expo 2020 – the first global event of this size and scale to be held since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since ground was first broken on the vast Expo site in 2015, the 200,000-plus workforce drawn from across the globe has completed in excess of 240 million working hours, transforming what was once a huge expanse of desert into the incredible home of Expo 2020, a world-class city of the future and a beacon of the Dubai Urban Master Plan 2040.
Expo 2020 has also developed the Workers’ Portrait Series, which includes stunning images capturing the diversity and spirit of the Expo workforce, accompanied by their own inspiring quotes, highlighting their achievements and aspirations for the future. These images will be proudly displayed during Expo 2020 on the digital screens around the Public Realm, where they will be seen by visitors from around the world. A selection will also be exhibited at the Expo Media Centre Gallery during Expo 2020.
The Series follows a 2017 audio-visual exhibition that showcased workers’ stories of Expo 2020, told in their own languages. Throughout construction, Expo 2020 has followed an overarching strategy called Better Together, a positive, values-driven approach to health and safety and worker welfare. Six pillars underpin the strategy – Leadership, Communication, Competency, Engagement, Reward and Recognition, and Continual Improvement – each including a number of different activities and programmes.
Training is a key part of the Better Together Competency pillar, and a range of health and safety training courses have been offered to the Expo workforce at all levels of seniority, in a variety of languages and formats. To date, training has been delivered to more than 35,000 frontline workers, 3,000 Supervisors, and 2,000 Senior Leaders and Managers, all of whom will be able to take the knowledge they have gained onto subsequent roles.
With ‘technology for good’ a key concept at Expo 2020, the Continual Improvement pillar of Better Together included the ambitious Expo Worker Wellness Programme. As part of the pilot programme, Whoop wearable devices were distributed to workers with the aim of enhancing preventative healthcare, leading the global conversation on how technology could be used to create a safer working environment on construction sites around the world.
Expo 2020’s Better Together programme has evolved with the changing global realities. As the world battled the COVID-19 pandemic, Expo worked quickly to implement a far-reaching programme of precautionary measures across the entire site. In addition, the Worker Welfare team liaised closely with contractors to support the implementation of widespread vaccination programmes across their workforce.
The Better Together strategy continues to evolve as Expo 2020 transitions from a construction site into an event time mode. Designed to encourage a shift in behaviour, and set new benchmarks for worker welfare and health and safety, the Better Together programme is set to continue to shape industries around the region, long after Expo closes its doors on 31 March 2022.