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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 19 August 2018

Victory celebrations in Paris as Dubai wins vote to host Expo 2020

The words, “Ladies and gentlemen Dubai wins” launched victory celebrations in Paris among the successful UAE entry on the announcement of the host city for the Expo 2020.
Fireworks burst from the Burj Khalifa after Dubai was named the host city for the World Expo 2020 last night. Christopher Pike / The National
Fireworks burst from the Burj Khalifa after Dubai was named the host city for the World Expo 2020 last night. Christopher Pike / The National

PARIS // The words, “Ladies and gentlemen, Dubai wins” launched victory celebrations in Paris among the successful UAE bid, on the announcement of the host city for the World Expo 2020.

The UAE national anthem rang out in Paris minutes after the announcement was made.

Supporters and members of the UAE bid team gathered together waving UAE flags and celebrated with hugs, cheers and tears of joy.

They were on their feet each time the results of the three rounds of voting were announced.

After the third and final round, when the large screens showed the UAE had won by a thumping 70 per cent, whoops of excitement filled the observation room at the general assembly of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE).

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, promised the city would deliver in 2020.

“I am proud of our teams who earned this victory for Dubai with two years of hard work, dedication and commitment,” Sheikh Mohammed said. “We renew our promise to astonish the world in 2020.”

He also announced a holiday on Thursday for all educational institutions across the country to celebrate the win.

Dubai won by a resounding majority with 116 votes, leaving Yekaterinburg, Russia, with only 47.

The President, Sheikh Khalifa, sent his congratulations.

“Our joy in the UAE was double by the win as it coincides with the celebrations of the 42nd National Day,” Sheikh Khalifa said.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, sent his congratulations to the President, Vice President, and Rulers and people of the UAE.

“What has been achieved today is a great work that made us all happy ahead of our National Day celebrations,” he said.

“Year after year, the UAE proves its ability to achieve its aims and visions, thanks to the strength of the nation built by our founding fathers and the wisdom of our leadership.”

The rulers of all the emirates have congratulated the UAE and its people on winning the World Expo 2020 bid.

The voting took place on the second day of the general assembly of the BIE, the international organisation responsible for overseeing, regulating and selecting the candidate for the world fair. At the BIE, 164 nation members were entitled to vote.

The excitement, suspense and tension mounted as the rounds progressed with several UAE members saying silent prayers as they were seated.

The second round put Dubai ahead with 53 per cent of the votes.

The emirate swept aside the competition with 87 votes, followed by Yekaterinburg, Russia with 41 votes, Izmir, Turkey with 36 votes. Brazil was knocked out in the first round.

The numbers were resoundingly clear in Dubai’s favour from the first round when the emirate beat back the opposition by raking up 47 per cent of the votes.

Dubai with 77 votes was way ahead of Yekaterinburg, Russia with 39 votes, Izmir, Turkey with 33 votes and Sao Paulo, Brazil with 13 votes.

Jubilation marked each announcement in the observation room.

Outside the hall, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of Emirates Group and of Dubai Expo 2020, expressed the team’s elation.

“It is a great achievement,” Sheikh Ahmed said. “We’re so pleased.

“For this we give thanks to Allah and thanks to our leaders Sheikh Khalifa and Sheikh Mohammed, and this is also thanks to all the people, to the whole of the UAE, for everyone who helped the Emirates win.”

Reem Al Hashemi, Minister of State and managing director of the Dubai World Expo 2020 bid committee, delivered an emotional speech at the opening of the session yesterday morning.

Ms Al Hashemi opened her speech in French, then switched to English when addressing more than 200 delegates.

The 20-minute presentation, for which she received resounding applause, was interspersed with videos focused on the UAE’s hopes as a young country and Dubai’s strengths of diversity, strong infrastructure and stability.

The videos also showed clips of the British prime minister, David Cameron, who had officially backed Dubai’s bid, along with footage of UAE teams supporting community projects in the developing world.

Urging delegates to share the nation’s dream, Ms Al Hashemi said: “The Dubai Expo has rapidly become the dream of an entire nation, and dare I say of the entire nation.

BIE delegates had in June unanimously approved to further the bids of Turkey, Russia, Brazil and the UAE for the Expo 2020.

“My generation has been inspired by our forefathers, by their courage to take the road less travelled, to open our communities to the world, to focus on education and human development,” Ms Al Hashemi said.

“They have entrusted us with a city that is capable of working with the world and hosting the world, with a country that is recognised as a model of openness and stability, a place that millions of young people in our neighbourhood and beyond see as a beacon of hope and opportunity.

“It is now our turn to hand over this legacy and these values to the next generation …we pledge our assets, skills and expertise to give Expo 2020 the weight and recognition it deserves.”

rtalwar@thenational.ae

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