Expo 2020 Dubai records highest international participation ever

The mega-event has reaffirmed Dubai's and the UAE's position on the global map


Anjana Sankar

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Visitors at Expo 2020 Dubai on the last day of the mega-event. Photo by Neeraj Murali
Visitors at Expo 2020 Dubai on the last day of the mega-event. Photo by Neeraj Murali

Published: Thu 31 Mar 2022, 4:07 PM

Last updated: Thu 31 Mar 2022, 4:08 PM

Expo 2020 Dubai has lived up to its claim of being the mother of all expos by garnering the biggest international participation ever, a top Expo official has said.

Maha Al Gargawi, Senior Vice President of Political Affairs at Expo 2020, said the six-month-long world fair that opened on October 1, 2021, garnered around 200 million virtual visits and 200 plus participating countries and organisations.

"It is the highest number of international participants in the history of world expos. It has been quite an achievement and I think it really showcases what the United Arab Emirates is really capable of doing," she said in an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times on the final day of the mega event on Thursday, March 31.

Expo 2020 Dubai, held under the theme Connecting Minds, Creating the future' also brought together world leaders, organisations, businesses, thought leaders, academics and NGOs to address the pressing global challenges that need collective action.

Gargawi said Expo 2020 has cemented the UAE's position as a global power and shows the strong bilateral relations the emirates enjoy with world nations.

"It (Expo) has reaffirmed Dubai's and the United Arab Emirates' position on the global map today. It really showcases what is possible and the transformation that happened in only 50 years. I think it also sets the tone with our partners, with the 192 nations, for the next 50 years," Gargawi told Khaleej Times in an exclusive interview on the closing day of Expo 2020 on Thursday.

"It is a reflection of the belief that all these nations worldwide have in a country that recently celebrated its Golden Jubilee. It is a reflection of what is possible in a country that is only 50 years old," she said.

Expo is proof of UAE's soft power

Gargawi said the success of Expo 2020 is a "perfect example of (the UAE's) soft power."

"The world believed in the UAE's vision. The world believed in Expo 2020 theme "Connecting minds Creating the Future," she said.

The collaboration that will go beyond Expo, the official said, will help the UAE create bilateral ties where they don't exist.

"Where bilateral ties are, we would like to create trilateral ties," added Gargawi who had earlier serves as the Deputy General Counsel at Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, Abu Dhabi.

At a time when the world was facing the unprecedented challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic, Expo offered a platform for collaboration. From the need to accelerate sustainable development goals to addressing energy crisis, digital connectivity, and girls' education, she said Expo 2020 was able to amplify these issues and stir discussions and conversations to help find solutions.


Gargawi said she considered the social impact of the Expo as its biggest success.

"We can sit here and talk about the economic success, and we can talk about all the wonderful architecture you see around and our visitations and whatnot. But I genuinely believe the social impact that Expo 2020 leaves behind is what matters the most."

She said millions of people were touched and inspired by the Expo hosted for the first time in the Arab world.

"We always said, you know, our Expo is for everyone. This is not just an expo for Dubai. It is not just an expo for the United Arab Emirates. It is the Expo for this region."

Personally, Gargawi said Expo 2020 was a reminder of how similar the world is and the challenges we face. "The challenges are universal. They're not specific to certain regions and I think, you know, the pandemic was the perfect example of how connected the world is."

And as the curtains fall on the mega event, she said the world is looking forward to what is next after Expo.

"Dubai never ceases to amaze," she concluded.

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