x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Delegates to tour Dubai ahead of crucial vote

Representatives from the 167 member nations of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) have come to see a presentation on Dubai's theme for its bid.

Artist's impression of Al Wasl Plaza - Oasis Fountain Day - one of the areas of the proposed Expo 2020 site. Courtesy Dubai Expo 2020
Artist's impression of Al Wasl Plaza - Oasis Fountain Day - one of the areas of the proposed Expo 2020 site. Courtesy Dubai Expo 2020

Dubai will have another chance to shine ahead of the vote to choose the Expo 2020 host city as delegates from the world’s fair arrive for a week-long tour.

Representatives from the 167 member nations of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) are visiting to see a presentation on the city’s theme for its bid.

The “theme symposium”, titled Connecting Minds, Creating the Future, will take place on October 22 and 23, with delegates arriving on Monday.

They will enjoy tours of Dubai and the UAE, and participate in conferences.

“The delegates will also have an opportunity to explore the country and the city, to witness public support for the bid and to assess the UAE’s ability to deliver a World Expo,” said a spokesman for the Dubai bid team.

The decision on which city will host Expo 2020 will be made on November 27. Three other cities are in the running – Ekaterinburg in Russia, Sao Paulo in Brazil, and Izmir, Turkey.

The last symposium, held in Izmir last week, focused on health issues.

The BIE said its decision would not be based solely on the success of this week.

“It’s not at all a last chance,” a spokesman said. “The symposium is only a means to explain to BIE delegates the content of the project and theme.

“It’s only one of the elements of the bidding campaign. It’s not something exceptional.”

The spokesman declined to comment on the content of Dubai’s symposium, but according to the BIE website the theme reflects well on the city.

“The theme Dubai has chosen expresses, in a way, the history of the city,” the site said.

“In just a few decades, Dubai has become a business and tourism hub that welcomes millions of visitors each month.

“The city is built on a daily basis through the collaboration of people from different countries, cultures and religions.”

Delegates will visit two destinations in Abu Dhabi – Masdar City, which fits with the bid theme of sustainability, and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, a cultural landmark.

They will also see the Burj Khalifa, an example of Dubai’s ability to build mega projects, and Jebel Ali Port, which is close to the Expo site and could be a key logistics hub in bringing in the pavilions.

Other tour stops will be Gitex, Emirates Aviation College, the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, Al Nassma camel-milk farm, and the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisation.

Twitter users are being asked to use the hashtags #Expo2020 and #DubaiExpo2020 to send messages of support for bid.

The Expo 2020 bid team has also put together a book of essays on the city’s theme from key international and local luminaries, including the former US president, Jimmy Carter; Henrik Scharfe, a robot expert named as one of the most influential people in the world by Time magazine; and Ndaba Mandela, a grandson of Nelson Mandela who heads a group working to instil pride in young Africans.

UAE-based contributors include Dr Sultan Al Jaber, the chief executive of Masdar; Sultan bin Sulayem, the chairman of Dubai Ports World; and Tim Clark, the president of Emirates airline.

In a foreword to the book, Reem Al Hashemi, Minister of State and managing director of the Higher Committee for Hosting the 2020 World Expo in Dubai, said Dubai’s theme was inspired by the “convening power” of the event itself.

“This theme was singularly selected to bring to the world what Dubai does and has always done – facilitating connections and pioneering new ideas and projects,” she wrote.

mcroucher@thenational.ae