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Published on : Thursday, November 28, 2013
The city waited with bated breath and the citizens excited at the prospect of Dubai getting allotted to hold the World Expo 2020. Now there expectations have been fulfilled. Dubai on Wednesday beat off opposition from Brazil, Russia and Turkey to win the right to host the 2020 World Expo, sparking celebrations in the Gulf city and a stunning fireworks display at the world’s tallest building.
The Gulf city beat Russia’s Ekaterinberg in the final round of voting in Paris to clinch a prestigious event that is credited with delivering a huge boost to tourism and business in the host city.
Dubai, the economic and transport hub of the United Arab Emirates, won 116 votes in the third round, comfortably beating Ekaterinberg with 47. There was one abstention.
The four candidate cities, which also included Brazil’s Sao Paulo and Turkey’s Izmir, had pulled out all the stops during 20-minute presentations before voting by the 168 member states of the International Exhibitions Bureau (BIE), headquartered in Paris, which oversees the organisation of the events.
As the news broke, a Christmas tree style fireworks extravaganza lit the night sky at the Burj Khalifa tower which stands 828-metres (2,717-feet) high. There were jubilant crowds at Dubai’s shopping malls and other pyrotechnics displays.
The victory for Dubai — home to the world’s tallest tower, largest man-made island and one of the world’s busiest airports — means the World Expo will be hosted by an Arab country for the first time.
Dubai’s win confirmed the growing importance of Gulf states for international events. The neighbouring gas-rich monarchy of Qatar, most notably and somewhat controversially, is to host the 2022 football World Cup.
“We renew our promise to astonish the world in 2020,” Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, said after the win.
“Dubai Expo2020 will breathe new life into the ancient role of the Middle East as a melting pot for cultures and creativity,” he said in a statement.
He promised the Dubai expo will “undoubtedly stand out as the best edition in the history of the event in terms of preparation and presentation”.
According to UAE officials, 40 percent of the estimated 227,000 new jobs expected to be created as a result of Expo will be in the tourism and travel sectors.
The site chosen for the event, is spread over 438 hectares (1,082 acres) and located between the international airports of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the capital of the Emirates.
The World Expo, a modern-day successor to the Great Exhibitions of the 19th and early 20th centuries, showcases technology, architecture and culture.
Shanghai was the last host city and Milan is next in line in 2015. The Chinese city set a record by attracting a record 73 million victors to the event.
In Wednesday’s bid, Turkey showcased Izmir’s long association with medicine and healthcare, highlighting that it housed the first psychiatric hospital in ancient times.
Ekaterinberg’s pitch included a video appeal by Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev to “give Russia a chance”. Russia was trying to promote the industrial city as part of a bid to develop the Ural region into a hub for technology and innovation, and attract more tourists to this lesser-visited part of the country.
With a population of 1.4 million, Ekaterinburg is Russia’s fourth-largest city and had hoped to capitalise on its recent endorsement by Forbes magazine as Russia’s best place to do business.