Dubai was the toast of Paris on Wednesday and promised to “astonish” the world in 2020 through its vision of innovation and creativity after it bagged the right to host the world’s biggest exposition following a grueling campaign and three rounds of voting. The victory also brought to fruition a two-year-old dream for the city which emerged the clear winner in the French capital in the final round after leading all the way.
The World Expo 2020 buzz felt across the city was heightened in Paris, where the obviously emotional UAE contingent celebrated its hard work leading up to the announcement. The tally was overwhelmingly in favor of the dynamic city and its people, who have shown that nothing is impossible, and where dreams are turned into reality through enterprise and passion.
Dubai’s tally of 116 out of 163 votes put Russia’s Ekaterinburg in the shade and there was not a moment to lose as the Burj Khalifa came to life with fireworks and residents rejoiced as the winner was announced.
The President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, congratulated His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on the win and said: “Our joy in the UAE was doubled by the win as it coincides with the celebrations of the 42nd National Day.”
He said the team was confident about the bid, and added that the “country possesses all it takes to successfully organize a unique event that will add a new and outstanding imprint on the Expo series of events”.
Shaikh Mohammed, in a statement, said: “We renew our promise to astonish the world in 2020. Dubai will bring to life our vision: Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.”
He went on to congratulate the nation, the President and all people of the UAE. “I extend my thanks to His Highness Shaikh Khalifa for his great support, and to every country that voted for Dubai to host Expo2020. I am proud of our teams who earned this victory for Dubai with two years of hard work, dedication and commitment.”
Shaikh Mohammed has ordered that today be a holiday for all educational institutions across the UAE.
He said the Expo goal was to build a better future for the region’s youth. “The UAE will achieve it through collaboration and inspiration at the event. Dubai Expo 2020 will breathe new life into the ancient role of the Middle East as a melting pot for cultures and creativity,” he said.
General Shaikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, said: “The UAE has a wide and accumulated experience in hosting mega global events for decades.
Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Dubai Airports, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates airline & Group and Chairman of the Dubai Expo 2020 Higher Committee, said Dubai was immensely proud to have the honor of hosting the major event, and thanked member states of the BIE.
“We will protect and be guided by them in delivering an exceptional Expo with a lasting legacy that will touch the lives of people across the globe for generations to come. The bid has been an incredible journey, led by the vision of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid, and we thank him for his faith in the Dubai Expo 2020 Committee.”
He revealed that the competition had been fierce and said the moment had to be “embraced and owned by the entire nation and beyond”.
Celebrations across the UAE
As the revelry gained steam, Sara Shaheen, an Emirati brought along her two daughters to become a part of history at Downtown Dubai, the hub of the festivities.
“We are very sure Dubai will win the bid and this will be a night of celebration. We will party at our homes, in the streets and it will be one of the best memories of our life.”
She was at Downtown with another Emirati, Elham Mohammed, who was also on top of the world.
“This will change our city and country to make it even better and develop it further. Our leaders lead us by example and this day will go down as one of the most important days in the history of our country,” said Elham.
Families and youngsters from all nationalities cheered in unison as the announcement was made. A makeshift carnival-like set up was built on the Jumeirah open beach with screens reflecting live results. “This is a great victory for us. We realize that it will be a lot of hard work in the coming months, but we will make it worth it,” said another Emirati national Obaid Al Shehi.