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COVID-19 has had a significant impact on a lot of events which have been postponed due to the coronavirus crisis. Countries around the world began implementing stricter measures to curb the spread of coronavirus. The participating countries of EXPO 2020 expressed a need to postpone Expo’s opening by one year. This would enable them to overcome the extra challenges.
In March 2020, organizers of Expo 2020 Dubai announced that they were looking at options going forward. Participating countries briefed the Steering Committee on the global precautionary measures that have to be taken to ensure the health and safety of all those involved in the preparation of this mega event.
The Committee collectively agreed to explore with the BIE, the World Expo governing body, the possibility of a one year delay to the opening of Expo 2020. The Bureau International des Expositions, BIE, has worked with its Member States and Expo 2020 Dubai organizers to establish a change in dates. A final decision on postponement has made by the BIE’s Executive Committee and the General Assembly. Article 28 of the BIE Convention stipulates that, a change of dates requires a two-thirds majority vote from Member States of the Organization.
On March 30th, Expo 2020 released a statement saying: “We continue to face a global situation that is both fast-moving and unpredictable”. The statement went on to explain that the Expo supported a proposal made by the Steering Committee to explore a one-year postponement.
“We remain firm in our collective aim to deliver an Expo that is true to its time and to our shared, urgent priorities. But it is clear that this is not the right time”.
Following this, the Executive Committee met on 21 April. In this virtual meeting, members agreed unanimously to put forward the official proposal to postpone Expo 2020 Dubai. The General Assembly has now voted virtually on the Executive Committee’s recommendation. The two thirds-majority required was achieved, and on Mon 4 May the BIE announced that the event will be postponed to 2021.
Organizers have set an ambitious goal and hope to achieve 25 million visits. 70% of these visitors will be coming from international markets. “We currently have an outreach across at least 50 markets globally” said Mr Sumathi Ramanathan, the Expo’s Global Destination Marketing Director “We’re hoping that will be the key to driving some of our visitations to Expo over that period”.
Even though it has been postponed, Dubai’s Expo 2020 will still be a major world event when it opens its doors in October 2021.
The theme of this World Expo in Dubai is “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”. The celebration of innovation, collaboration and creation will see Dubai welcoming the world for six months.
“The UAE and Dubai historically have always been a connecting point for cultures” said Mr Ramanathan. “Right now, we have more than 180 nationalities who live, work and call Dubai home. So, it’s already a multicultural melting-pot that connects people. The theme is also very apt for Dubai. It’s about creating a positive and optimistic future through connection”.
His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Airports, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman and CEO of Emirates Group, and Chairman of the Expo 2020 Dubai Higher Committee, said: “We welcome the decision of BIE Member States to support the delayExpo 2020 Dubai by one year. We are thankful to Member States for their continued commitment to contributing to a World Expo in Dubai that will play a pivotal role in shaping our post-pandemic world at a time when it will be most needed.
Over the last 50 years, we have sought to build bridges, connections, and partnerships around the world because we believe in genuine collaboration to safeguard the future of all. This swift and overwhelming vote reflects the strength of our international partnerships and truly reflects the positive role the UAE and Dubai play with all countries around the world.
This affirmation by the international community of Dubai’s offering and its ability to deliver, further strengthens our commitment to matching ambition with achievement to hosting an event that will capture the world’s imagination, when the time is right” (https://www.expo2020dubai.com/en/whats-new/expo-stories/bie-announcement).
Expo 2020 Dubai retains its name and remains committed to hosting an exceptional event that will celebrate humanity’s resilience, creativity, culture and innovation – including major technological advances in the fields of medicine and science.
The first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, and largest ever event to take place in the Arab world, Expo 2020 will welcome 192 countries, plus businesses, multilateral organizations and educational establishments.
The Expo will feature 60 live events and cultural performances each day. As well as this, each country will hold its own National Day celebration. Visitors will be able to enjoy food, entertainment, innovation and ideas from around the world.
Patrizia Marin is journalist and chairman of Marco Polo Experience, a leading agency specialising in strategic communications, public affairs, marketing and media relations, with twenty years of experience in business internationalisation strategies, communication campaigns, media relations, mapping of the decision makers and community of interests’ relations.
Patrizia has been advisor to the Italian Presidency of the Council of Ministers for Communication, Publishing and Information. As regards the logistics and infrastructure sectors, she has been Head of Communications for the Venice Port Authority; Media Relations Consultant for Aeroporti di Roma; International pr advisor for Atlantia while Vice-President at FBC.
Patrizia is Contract Professor in Leadership and International Relations at the IULM University of Milan and has a degree in Law and International Political Science.