On Monday, a two-thirds majority of World Expo member states voted in favor of postponing Expo 2020 Dubai to 2021. The 173-day showcase was set to take place from October 2020 to April 2021, but will now run from October 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022.
The delay will, according to the member states, allow participants and organizers time to “safely navigate the impact of COVID-19.”
The Expo 2020 Dubai organizing committee and World Expo governing body, the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), said the change will also allow World Expo time “to focus on a collective desire for new thinking to identify solutions to some of the greatest challenges of our time.”
Chairman of the Expo 2020 Dubai Higher Committee Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum welcomed the member states’ approval and said it demonstrated the international community’s confidence in the United Arab Emirates to run an event that “will capture the world’s imagination when the time is right.”
“We welcome the decision of BIE Member States to support the delay of Expo 2020 Dubai by one year. We are thankful to the Member States for their continued commitment to contributing to a World Expo in Dubai that will play a pivotal role in shaping our post-pandemic world at a time when it will be most needed,” Al Maktoum said in an official statement.
“This swift and overwhelming vote reflects the strength of our international partnerships and truly reflects the positive role the UAE and Dubai play with all countries around the world,” he added.
The Secretary-General of the BIE, Dimitri Kerkentzes, said the new dates will be formally approved on May 29, and the vote was a sign of solidarity and confidence in “creating the future.
“In their support for the one-year postponement of Expo 2020 Dubai, Member States of the BIE are giving the world the opportunity to reconvene in 2021, when together, we can address the challenges facing humanity and celebrate the unity and solidarity that strengthen us,” Kerkentzes said.
“With its theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, Expo 2020 Dubai will offer the world a unique platform to share the lessons, solutions, and ideas for a better tomorrow,” he added.
The Expo 2020 Dubai steering committee debuted the idea of postponing the event on March 31 during a virtual meeting with stakeholders. BIE opened a virtual voting process from April 24 until May 29 and yielded a two-thirds majority.
Dubai began preparations to host the Dubai World Expo 2020 in 2013, and, like the Tokyo Olympics, the event will keep the “2020” title.
The “World’s Greatest Show” will give Dubai the opportunity to shine on the world stage, address the universal challenges of our times, and provide a serious boost for the national economy.
The UAE has invested an estimated $8 billion in Expo 2020 infrastructure projects alone and was banking on tourist revenues in the vicinity of $9 billion over the course of the 2020 event, until COVID-19 forced its delay.
It remains to be seen if the visitation numbers and economic benefits envisaged can still be achieved in an uncertain post-COVID-19 environment, but confirming the postponement should provide local stakeholders, international partners, and potential visitors with renewed confidence in Expo 2020 Dubai.