Middle East's first Expo to open in Dubai under shadow of pandemic


Construction workers are seen at the Expo 2020 Dubai site in Dubai, United Arab Emirates September 14, 2021. REUTERS/Alexander Cornwell

DUBAI (Reuters) - The first world fair to be held in the Middle East, Expo 2020 Dubai, opens its doors to exhibitors from almost 200 countries on Oct. 1 after being delayed for a year by the coronavirus pandemic.

The 4.3 sq km (1.7 sq mile) site was desert when Dubai was chosen eight years ago to follow the 2015 Expo in Milan, Italy.

Now, $6.8 billion later, the emirate more than ever needs the hoped-for economic boost from the global trade showcase, but will have to contend with continued COVID-19 restrictions, and probably reluctance to travel as well.

Before the pandemic, the consultancy EY forecast that the Expo would over the course of its six months contribute 1.5% of the UAE's gross domestic product.

Dubai still officially expects 25 million visitors, more than Milan received and more than twice the population of the United Arab Emirates. All those over 18 will have to be vaccinated against coronavirus or test negative to enter.

But diplomats from five different countries said they had revised down their national pavilions' visitor targets. James Swanston, an economist at Capital Economics, said the continuing obstacles to foreign travel meant the economic boost was likely to fall short of projections.

A spokesperson said the number of tickets sold was commercially sensitive, but that the Expo was "delighted" with sales so far.

Many events will be streamed live online.

Dubai says it wants the Expo, an exhibition of culture, technology and architecture under the banner 'Connecting Minds and Creating the Future', to be a demonstration of ingenuity, and a place where issues such as climate change, conflict and economic growth can be addressed together.

But its biggest role is still as a forum for trade.

"All major trading countries and powers plan to use Expo to refocus and to redefine their position in the world market," said France's Expo commissioner-general, Erik Linquier.

The event is not without critics, though.

The European Parliament last week https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-9-2021-0390_EN.html urged member states and companies to boycott the Expo in disapproval of the UAE's human rights record, alleging "systematic persecution of human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers and teachers speaking up on political and human rights issues in the UAE" and pervasive "inhumane practices" inflicted on many of the migrant workers that the UAE relies on.

The UAE rejected the resolution https://wam.ae/en/details/1395302971034 as "factually incorrect" and said that its laws enshrine fair treatment for all.

(Reporting by Alexander Cornwell, additional reporting by Davide Barbuscia; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 46
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
Join our Telegram channel to get our Evening Alerts and breaking news highlights
   

Next In World

Rebellious Tigrayan forces say Ethiopia government carried out air strike in Mekelle, fourth day of strikes this week
After fleeing fighting in Marib, displaced Yemenis await help
Somalia's president, prime minister agree to speed up election
Lithuania calls for new of EU migration pact, fence to stand up to Belarus
At least six dead after armed gang attack in Rohingya refugee camp
Belgium PM says all EU states must help handle migration
New poll puts Zemmour in round two of French vote, behind President Macron
Seven dead after fire at Russian chemicals plant
Swiss voters set to back government's COVID-19 response plan - poll
Melbourne reopens as world's most locked-down city eases pandemic restrictions

Others Also Read


Vouchers