DUBAI WILL WELCOME WORLD IN 2020
Dubai, November 27, 2013
The wait is over: Dubai will host the World Expo 2020. The announcement was made after a gruelling voting process that went into three rounds and lasted almost three hours.
Dubai beat Russia's Ekaterinburg in the final round, winning the support of 116 out of 164 voting members of the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions (BIE).
With this historic win, Dubai becomes the first Middle Eastern city to host an event which the UAE hopes will pull in billions of dollars of investment.
People in the UAE and the Gulf who were glued to their TVs and Smartphones all day long burst into joy as the "City of Gold" was declared the winner. Fireworks lit up the Downtown Dubai sky as the cheering crowds swelled to their thousands.
On winning the bid, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Dubai Ruler, congratulated the President and people of UAE.
Four candidate cities - Dubai, Turkish city of Izmir; Ekaterinburg in Russia; and Sao Paulo in Brazil -- were in the race to host the prestigious event. Sao Paulo and Izmir were eliminated in the first and second rounds of voting, respectively.
Dubai, which has lobbied hard to host the 2020 fair, will be the first country in the Middle East to host a World Expo.
With a successful bid, Dubai is likely to trigger billions in new investment and attract millions of people for the show.
In Dubai, crowds of hundreds of people waiting for the result in front of big screens outside the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, erupted with joy.
Many people began celebrating after Dubai was voted first in the first round. Residents also came out onto the streets in an impromptu celebration. There was heavy traffic on all major roads in the city.
The World Expo -- which showcases technology, architecture and culture, while drawing visitors to host cities and generating business -- is held every five years for a period of six months.
The fairs hold huge stakes for would-be hosts, which are prepared to spend billions on infrastructure, hotels, buildings and other preparations to attract millions of tourists.
The voting took place at the International Exhibitions Bureau (BIE) general assembly in Paris. There are 168 member states of the BIE.
In the first round, Dubai topped the list with with 77 votes (47.24 per cent) and Brazil's Sao Paulo was eliminated. Dubai, Yekaterinburg (39 votes) and Izmir (33 votes) went into the secured round.
Earlier, all the candidate cities completed their presentations before the assembly. The presentations were kicked off by Dubai, seen as the favourite to win the bid. Each city made a 20-minute presentation.
Dubai's presentation was made by Reem Al Hashimi, UAE Minister of State and managing director of the Dubai World Expo 2020 Bid Committee.
“We will endeavour to give the world an authentic portrait of a fast moving world in 2020,” she said. “We will give Expo 2020 the recognition it deserves.”
“I hope you have been touched by the spirit of our young country. We have pioneered the concept of one pavilion-one nation.”
“Dubai Expo 2020 will be the first carbon neutral mega-event,” she highlighted.
“Connecting Minds, Creating the Futures is not just a theme. My generation has been inspired by our forefathers, they have entrusted us with a city that is capable of hosting the world,” Al Hashimy elaborated.
“The UAE is a model of openness and stability. It is now our turn to hand over this legacy to the next generation,” she added.
Shanghai was the last host city and Milan is next in line in 2015. Turkey's Izmir lost the bid in 2015.
China said it spent $4.2 billion when Shanghai hosted the last World Expo in 2010, double what it spent at the Beijing Olympics.
Some Chinese media reported the true cost of hosting closer to $58 billion, many times the $164 million profit it reportedly made mainly through ticket sales and corporate sponsorship deals.
While the Shanghai fair pulled in a record 73 million visitors, not all expos prove to be a major tourist draw.
The number of visitors to the 2000 fair in the German city of Hanover were less than half the 40 million expected, leaving a financial shortfall of over a billion euros, according to German media.
But the fairs help the local economy through a surge in public spending and offer the host country a moment in the spotlight on the world stage.
"It's not the matter of a Formula 1 circus that comes in for a week and then leaves," said Brazil's representative, Maria Celina de Azevedo Rodriques. "It's not a matter where of where you want to be in 2020 but where you want to be after 2020, where you are going to get the best return for your investment," she added.
Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest city, has highlighted its culture of tolerance in its bid, while Izmir is focusing on healthcare.
Russia is presenting the industrial city of Ekaterinburg as part of a bid to develop the Ural region into a hub for technology and innovation.
The Expo is expected to draw more than 20 million people to the host city and give a boost to its economy. - TradeArabia News Service and Reuters