The Good Place Pavilion: Future solutions to world’s challenges can be found here at Expo 2020 Dubai – Gulf News

In a place where bricks made from plastic waste are on display, nothing seems impossible
Dubai: A smile inside this pavilion is equivalent to a dirham. This is the ‘YallaGive’ photo stand by Emirati social innovator Abdulla Al Nuaimi, an online fundraising platform. All you have to do is select a campaign fund of your choice and smile wide and bright for the camera. With one kind gesture, you will have made a donation to children in need.
Including Al Nuaimi, 140 ordinary people have come up with extraordinary low-cost solutions to help their communities and the planet at The Good Place Pavilion by Expo Live. Spread across a wide range of sectors, from agriculture and education to waste and water, these change-makers perhaps hold the key to how we can live more responsibly and sustainably in the future.
Hailing from 76 countries, the global innovators were carefully shortlisted from more than 11,000 applications to a funding programme that kicked off five years ago. Expo Live’s Innovation Impact Grant Programme is the first initiative of its kind at a World Expo – deploying grants long before the event started with full intent to continue beyond just the six months.
A physical entity was never on the books, according to Yousuf Caires, Senior Vice President of Expo Live. The pavilion itself has become a congregation point, not only to connect the grantees with potential investors but to inspire millions of Expo 2020 Dubai visitors to do some good once they leave.
In a place where bricks made from plastic waste are on display, nothing seems impossible.
During one sit-down with Gulf News, Georgina de Kock, founder of edible bowls Munch Innovation and an Expo Live grantee, said the funds helped her build the start-up’s first moulding machine. Before the prototype came along, Munch Bowls were strenuously moulded by hand – an eco-friendly alternative to plastic dishes that can be eaten along with the food.
“The shortlisting process was very much keen on criteria that needed to be met – for instance the story behind the innovation, the impact it’s meant to deliver on societies and the planet, and we also had to make sure these were actual start-ups and not just ideas,” Caires told Gulf News in an interview.
Once the applications were down to 300, the creators flew to Dubai to pitch their solutions in front of an independent body made up of partners and industry experts. The final list of qualifiers, then, each received up to $100,000 (Dh367,305) for 12 months, after which the innovators could request for additional rounds of funds.
Caires added that about 10 grantees have already been funded up to $500,000 (Dh1,836,500): “Particularly last year when the pandemic hit, start-ups had it hard. So we deployed additional funding to make sure these innovators could weather the storm.”
At every turn a solution is in the spotlight at The Good Place Pavilion. Interested investors or collaborators can get in touch with the trailblazers by scanning the QR code on their exhibits at the pavilion. As for in-person meetings, select few relevant to the ongoing Thematic Week will be flown in to Expo 2020 in batches to deliver talks and conduct workshops.
This is where visitors can make the most of their trip to the pavilion. By the end of it all, if you are left wondering ‘How can I be a part of this?’ then have a look at the Expo Live calendar on the ground floor or the Expo 2020 mobile app.
“Every Thematic Week we invite a dozen of them to host panels and activities that visitors can take part in. The agenda will be posted beforehand so that our guests can keep up with the upcoming events,” Caires added.
Driving home the social movement is architect Ahmad Abdulrahman Bukhash’s design of The Good Place Pavilion. His days spent in Japan as a student influenced the origami folds of the façade, and his Emirati roots offered the Bedouin tent as a source of inspiration. A major challenge, he said, was changing an abstract message – “to better people’s lives” – into something concrete.
“’A thought has the ability to transform societies,’ this abstraction took the form of a traditional tent, which was drawn using a modern aesthetic approach. At the same time, you can see that [the façade] grows, from the back of the pavilion to all the way to the front, similar to an idea. It takes people along on a journey to transform global societies,” Bukhash told Gulf News.
While visitors queue around the building, the tent peaks keep them cool, as is their function in the desert. The founder of Dubai architecture practice Archidentity also capitalised on the location of the pavilion, which sits on the northerly wind axis and in perfect alignment with naturally cool breezes.
Come March 10, 2022, Expo Live will announce its future direction for post event run. The next phase of the programme is very much part of Expo 2020 Dubai’s legacy.
“We’re still putting together what kind of institution it will be – will it continue as it is or are we going to add different types of investment schemes? It’s pretty exciting that we get to cook up the next phase of Expo Live. We don’t want it to go away,” Caires said.

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