UAE begins one-year countdown to Dubai Expo 2020
The sold-out fiesta in the shadow of the Burj Khalifa was packed with celebrity performances, fireworks and a massive crowd.
All seven emirates transformed into one giant carnival as the country celebrated the one-year countdown to World Expo 2020. At 2020 (8.20pm) on October 20, 2019, the world's tallest building became a countdown timer, marking the exact time the next expo will be launched in Dubai on October 20, 2020.
The sold-out fiesta in the shadow of the Burj Khalifa was packed with celebrity performances, fireworks and a massive crowd. 'One Year to Go' signs were put up across the venue and a live countdown - with the days, hours, minutes and seconds - was there for all to track.
American singer Mariah Carey's famous high-pitched vocals had all of her fans on their feet, moving along to the beat. She took to the stage right after the Burj Khalifa show and fireworks. "I'm so happy to be here and excited to be part of the one-year countdown of the Dubai Expo. I hope all of you will be there next year," she said after her first song.
When the Dubai Fountains went off after her second song, she said: "Look at the water. This is so exciting!"
Emirati singer Hussain Al Jassmi performed to a massive applause and loud cheers. He also sang 'happy birthday' to a fan in the crowd. "Happy birthday, little girl. Everything is possible," he said onstage.
His 20-minute performance wowed the crowd, with many fans singing every word, dancing along and taking videos.
The celebrations were not just confined to Dubai. The host city's headline acts and the spectacular Burj Khalifa show were streamed live at Louvre Abu Dhabi, Al Majaz Waterfront in Sharjah, Ajman Museum, Umm Al Quwain Corniche, Al Qawasim Corniche in Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah Fort.
The festivities began at 5pm at all venues, with stilt walkers, tanoura dancers and cosplayers taking to the streets; and artists mesmerising the visitors with their performances.
In the Capital, hundreds of residents danced and celebrated at the grass compound just in front of the Louvre Abu Dhabi. The show featured music and performing arts, top-notch food and graphic art. Musicians, including Leila Qadar, entertained people who were standing and dancing in front of the big stage at the venue.
The show hosts continuously reminded visitors that they will experience "warm Emirati hospitality at its finest", as well as the UAE's values of inclusion, tolerance and cooperation during the Expo 2020.
Each event featured multiple cuisines to suit all tastes, a craft area for kids and the chance to meet the event mascots for the first time. Over 100 artists from 26 nationalities highlighted the universal language of art and the global appeal of the expo.
From October 20, 2020, to April 10, 2021, the eyes of the world will be on the UAE as the Expo 2020 Dubai will bring together 192 participating countries and millions of visitors from across the globe. To be held under the theme, 'Connecting Minds, Creating the Future', the event will feature 60-plus live shows per day, more than 200 dining outlets, state-of-the-art technologies, A-list entertainers, unique cultural experiences, stunning architecture, and much more.
(Reports by Sarwat Nasir and Ismail Sebugwaawo)