x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Vital stage in Dubai's bid for Expo 2020

World fair chiefs will be meeting in Paris to consider inspections that took place in the five candidate cities including Dubai.

Artist impression of cultural performances in the souks at the proposed site of Expo 2020. Courtesy Dubai Expo 2020
Artist impression of cultural performances in the souks at the proposed site of Expo 2020. Courtesy Dubai Expo 2020

DUBAI // Dubai’s’s bid to stage Expo 2020 reaches a crucial stage today when the organisation that oversees world fairs meets in Paris.

The Bureau International des Expositions will consider its inspectors’ reports on the viability of Dubai’s bid, along with those of

Sao Paulo in Brazil, Yekaterinburg in Russia, Izmir in Turkey and Ayutthaya in Thailand. Any cities that fail to fulfil the BIE’s requirements will be eliminated.

Writing today in The National, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, expresses his support for the bid, which has the theme Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.

“We want to host the greatest minds in the world to share innovative solutions for global challenges that cannot be dealt with in isolation,” Sheikh Mohammed writes.

“When we proposed to host the world’s biggest cultural event, we promised to astonish the world. Today we pledge to breathe life into our slogan: we will bring minds together for a better future.”

Officials from the BIE carried out a four-day inquiry mission to assess the viability of Dubai’s bid in February.

Similar inspections took place in the other four candidate cities, and it is those inspection reports that will be considered today, along with the inspectors’ recommendations.

“For each country it’s either a yes or a no vote,” Steen Christensen, the BIE’s vice president, said in February. “If it’s a no, that particular country is then out of the race and if it’s a yes, it can continue its campaign.”

The bids have not been compared with one another – each was judged on its own merits. Today’s session will be closed, and the outcome of the deliberations is unlikely to be known until tomorrow. Any country that does not wish to proceed with its bid will be free to withdraw.

The candidates will face another vital test tomorrow, the second day of the two-day assembly, when they will each make presentations about their bids.

The winner will be announced after a vote by the BIE’s 166 member nations at its next general assembly in November.

The bid teams will have one final chance to state their case immediately before that vote, but it is felt that most delegates will have made up their minds by then – which makes tomorrow’s presentations particularly significant.

It will be the first opportunity the Dubai team has had to outline details of its plans to the BIE since it submitted its 623-page bid dossier last December, so it will be able to go into far greater detail than in previous submissions.

Sheikh Mohammed will be travelling to Paris today with a high-level UAE delegation, though his trip is not connected to the BIE assembly.

He will meet the French president, Francois Hollande, and key French officials during a three-day visit accompanied by ministers and senior officials.

While Sheikh Mohammed will not attend the BIE assembly, delegates from the Higher Committee for Hosting the 2020 World Expo in Dubai will.

The committee’s chairman is Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and chairman of Emirates, and its managing director is Reem Al Hashimy, the Minister of State.

A 438-hectare site at Jebel Ali has been earmarked for the event, which would play a major role in the run-up to the 50th anniversary in 2021 of the formation of the UAE.

csimpson@thenational.ae