Saudi Arabia wins bid to host Expo 2030

UAE's President, Dubai's Ruler and Crown Prince congratulated the leaders of Saudi Arabia on their remarkable win

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Photo: SPA/X
Photo: SPA/X

Published: Tue 28 Nov 2023, 8:27 PM

Last updated: Tue 28 Nov 2023, 9:44 PM

Saudi Arabia's Riyadh will host the Expo 2030 world fair, the vote results from 182 members of the Bureau International des Expositions showed on Tuesday.

South Korea's Busan and Italy's Rome were also in the running to host the world fair, a five-yearly event that attracts millions of visitors and billions of dollars in investment.

In a high-profile showdown, Rome, Busan and Riyadh were the top contenders to become the host city of the 2030 World Expo, with the organizing body choosing the winner.

The UAE President, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan extended his congratulations to the rulers and people of Saudi Arabia on this prestigious occasion.

Taking to X, the President said: "I extend my sincere congratulations to King Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and the people of Saudi Arabia for the Kingdom's successful bid to host Expo 2030. Through resounding support for Riyadh Expo 2030, the international community continues to recognise the remarkable path towards growth and prosperity in Saudi Arabia."

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai congratulated the leaders of Saudi Arabia on their stunning win.

Taking to X, the Ruler said: "We congratulate the capital of goodness and glory, the capital of prosperity and stability, beloved Riyadh, for winning to host Expo 2030... We congratulate my brother, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, and his Crown Prince, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, for the world’s vote to make Riyadh its destination and cultural station in 2030."

"The joy of the Saudi people is our joy, their success is our success, and their hosting of the world in 2030 is a win for us, for our Gulf, and for our region. Congratulations to Saudi Arabia," added Sheikh Mohammed.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai also congratulated the Kingdom on its win.

"We congratulate our brothers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for winning to host Expo 2030, and we are confident that Riyadh is capable of dazzling the world through this great event... Congratulations to Saudi Arabia and congratulations to all Arabs."

The meeting started with the candidates' final presentation to be followed by the vote, which was held behind closed doors.

With the stakes high, each city had escalated its campaign efforts, showcasing unique visions and ambitious promises to secure the rights to the globally prestigious event.

Rome had enlisted actor Russell Crowe, who appeared in a promotional video echoing his “Gladiator” persona, to underscore the city’s readiness for the Expo.

The Rome campaign also hosted BIE delegates at Paris’ luxurious Plaza Athenee hotel. They were also treated to a Michelin-starred meal and gifts of extra virgin olive oil.

Rome’s bid also included plans for the world’s largest urban solar park and a green corridor connecting the Expo site to historic landmarks like the Appia Antica (Appian Way), one of the oldest and most important roads of the Roman Empire.

The South Korean port city of Busan had brought in cultural heavyweights like “Gangnam Style” rapper Psy and K-pop supergroup BTS to bolster its bid. The city positioned itself for a high-tech Expo, emphasizing its capabilities in artificial intelligence and 6G technology with the aim of attracting millions of visitors and spurring job creation.

Meanwhile, winner Riyadh mounted a significant marketing campaign, featuring a “Riyadh 2030” exhibit near the Eiffel Tower and extensive advertising across Paris. The Saudi bid, seeking to diversify the kingdom’s economy and boost its international stature, has received support from French President Emmanuel Macron, as indicated in a July statement from the Elysee Palace.

The World Expo has a storied history of bringing together nations to showcase technological innovations and cultural achievements. Since the inaugural event in 1851, Expos have been platforms for introducing groundbreaking inventions such as the light bulb, the Ferris wheel and the Eiffel Tower itself, which was built for the 1889 Exposition Universelle.

These events have evolved to not only be celebrations of human ingenuity, but also opportunities for host cities to catalyse economic growth and global recognition.

With the world’s attention turned to Paris, the upcoming vote will set the stage for the next chapter in the rich legacy of the World Expos. The next Expo is scheduled to be held in Osaka, Japan, in 2025.

Inputs from Reuters, AP

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