Exchange Matters / April 4, 2022

A Look Back: USA Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai

By Margaret Pfeifle, Communications Intern, Global Ties U.S.

From October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022, more than 24 million visitors from all over the world visited Dubai for the first World Expo held in the Middle East. During this six-month run, the Global Ties U.S. staff and Network worked in collaboration with the U.S. Department of State to showcase our country’s culture, values, and creativity, through our own citizen diplomats at the USA Pavilion. The Youth Ambassadors and Cultural Performers recruited by Global Ties Network Members brought the experience to life, bringing the diversity of U.S. people and talent to the world stage in Dubai.

“While Expos have not been held on U.S. soil in a number of decades, these soft power platforms are critical to illuminating U.S. values to international audiences,” said Katherine Brown, Ph.D., President & CEO of Global Ties U.S. “With geopolitics rapidly shifting, they represent an opportunity to educate people globally, to advance U.S. foreign policy objectives, as well as to engage and inspire U.S. citizens.”

Expo 2020 Dubai may have wrapped up with its grand finale this week, but the Global Ties Network is now gearing up to host Community Conversations around the country to discuss the impact of past World Expos on U.S. citizens and communities. Take a look and reflect back on some of the highlights from the USA Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Credit U.S. Department of State. Source

The USA Pavilion shared a picture of the USA Pavilion Team, which comprised more than 100 full-time staff and Youth Ambassadors, who collectively welcomed 1.2 million guests from across the region and the world to the pavilion during its six-month run.

Credit A.E. Landes Photography

“The USA Pavilion Youth Ambassadors program is a longstanding and central element of U.S. participation at World Expos and a premiere international exchange opportunity,” reflected Katherine Brown in a message to the Global Ties Network. With nearly 700 applicants for 75 positions, the Global Ties Network helped recruit the most diverse cohort of Youth Ambassadors on record.

Credit U.S. Department of State. Source

Jennifer Hall Godfrey, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, shared a photo collage with the caption, “What an incredible 6 months at the #USAPavilion! We welcomed more than 1.2 million visitors, and American performers and speakers from all 50 states. Thank you for making it memorable.”

Kicking off the cultural performances for the USA Pavilion was Step Afrika!, a Washington-DC-based dance company, who performed during the Pavilion’s opening week.

In addition to dance, other cultural performers represented music, theater, literature, art, food, sports, spoken word, and more. This included performances by the Tulane Marching Band (shoutout to Global New Orleans), Rocky Mountain Ballet Theatre (WorldMontana), AXIS Dance Company (Global Ties San Francisco), and many more talented performers during Expo’s six-month run.

Credit The Western Flyers. Source

Shared musical act The Western Flyers in a message to Global Ties U.S.: “Well, words can’t express the honor, impact, and meaningful experience we had at Expo and that Expo and everyone involved had on us.

Thanks for your vote of confidence in the band. Here’s to a year full of blue skies for everyone (youth ambassadors, sound crew, staff) involved in this magical moment.  💕🎻🇺🇸 🇦🇪 🤠 🎸 💃 🚀”



Cultural Performers Rocky Mountain Ballet Theatre shared with Global Ties U.S.: “Habibi is a lovely word that greeted me everywhere I went with the association of honor, and family. Thank you to the World Expo & our own USA State Department and Global Ties for envisioning me and Montana there. We went with one suitcase and returned with three camel loads of treasure. I hope we planted healthy seeds while we were there and I hope they will grow.”

Credit USA Expo 2020. Source

Credit USA Expo 2020. Source

The USA Pavilion highlighted “Pursuit of the Future” in STEM, a partnership with NASA and the Center of Science and Industry (COSI), that provided visitors with COSI Connect Kits full of STEM activities and science experiments. At the event, Ryan Ziegler, NASA Apollo Sample Curator, took the time to tell the story of a Martian meteorite featured in the pavilion.

Bob Clark, Commissioner General for the USA Pavilion, shared a highlight video on Twitter, originally posted by the U.S. Department of State, showcasing connections made at the USA Pavilion and beyond:

The USA Expo team also shared a video on Twitter of “America’s Got Talent” winner Landau Eugene Murphy and his band as they represented the United States for a week of concerts in Dubai. Landau was among the final USA Pavilion performers to take the stage at Expo 2020:

Both photos: credit U.S. Department of State.

As for students, the USA Pavilion shared photos of students from EM Normandie Business School (left), and of students from Young People Travel Global Edge, a U.S. nonprofit organization (and shoutout to Global Ties Detroit) empowering Black youth to become leaders and creators (right).

“Expos are a great place to advocate, to explain particular ideas, and to rally people around action on the international stage. It’s a place where culture can be expressed and experienced,” said Nicholas J. Cull, historian and professor in the Master in Public Diplomacy program at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. After visiting the USA Pavilion, he offered his thoughts on how World Expos create international engagement in this YouTube video.

Also on YouTube: Expo 2020 Dubai shared its closing ceremony. See global music icons, enjoy dazzling fireworks, and exciting performances unfold beneath the Al Wasl Dome.

Have any other memories from the USA Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai you want to share with the Network? Share them via