Creating the Fabric of Future Cities

The legacy of Siemens technology at Expo 2020 Dubai

Connecting Art, Technology and Our Hopes for the Future 

We’re surrounded by an invisible, intangible world of numbers. They fly and pulse around us constantly, unseen yet endless, because they power the digital, data-driven era we now live in. Every time we pick up our phone, get in our car or switch on our TV, ten simple digits – 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 – make things possible. Embedded and encoded in almost all electrical and digital communication, numbers are the lifeblood of modern life.


Yet those same numbers are also ancient; a creation reaching back to the early Arab world. Their first recorded use was in Egypt, around 1150 years ago. During the tenth century, this ‘Arabic’ numbering system spread into Europe from Northern Africa and Andalusia in Spain. 

It was adopted for the same reason it’s lasted: beautiful simplicity. 


Not only beautiful as art forms, these ten numbers also accelerated scientific development through the centuries. Multiple breakthroughs were made possible because the Arabic system enabled rapid calculation: essential for tasks like surveying, navigating and keeping financial records. From commercial booms to creative bursts such as the Renaissance, numbers have been at the heart of growing civilisations and societies.

Numbers power our modern digitally connected society

Whenever computers encode instructions and data, and telecommunication transfers that data, it’s through binary encoding: a constant, continuous flow of zeroes and ones.

At Expo 2020 Dubai, this connected world has entered a new era, where the possibilities of digitalization and data are infinite and immense. Expo 2020 Dubai is a blueprint for future smart cities worldwide, a demonstration of how data can transform them for the better.

This was a true blueprint of an environment that cares; that connects technology and people with major, lasting benefits; and that shows what a truly sustainable city of tomorrow looks like – across water use, waste management, energy conservation, security systems and more.

For the millions of people who visited Expo 2020 Dubai, and the hundreds of thousands who will live, work and play in the smart city district that will follow, numbers therefore play two important roles. 

First of all, they’re that invisible digital fabric that lies behind the experience, that intangible force surrounding everything and making it successful and safe, sustainable and smart.

And secondly, they’re a fantastic link from the region’s past, as the birthplace of our numbering system, to the world’s future, as data-driven cities. From our collective history to the children of tomorrow. From where numbers began, to where they can take us.


Here’s to the magic, the beauty and the power of numbers.

Behind The Scenes

Get a glimpse behind the scenes of the creation of the Siemens Fabric of Expo 2020 Dubai.