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The United Arab Emirates expects 25 million visitors for Expo 2020 Dubai, the first World Expo held in the Middle East and the largest event globally since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Gigantic, monumental, historic … there is no shortage of superlatives to evoke the 2020 Dubai World Expo. With the pomposity of the Emirate of Dubai, its leader, Sheikh Mohammed ben Rachid al-Maktoum, has promised the Universal Exhibition “the most exceptional in history”. “Our commitment to excellence makes us an important contributor to building the future of our planet,” he said, according to local media.
This is indeed the first universal exhibition ever organized in the Middle East. It is also the biggest event globally since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Dubai hopes to welcome 25 million visitors for six months.
Postponed last year due to the health crisis, Expo 2020, whose site has remained completely inaccessible to the public, will be unveiled Friday in the middle of the desert, on the outskirts of Dubai, a city in the United Arab Emirates already known. for its skyscrapers and its taste for luxury.
While the Japanese authorities had banned the public for its Tokyo Olympics, Dubai is opening its doors wide to foreign tourists, who will have to wear masks and respect social distancing. Visitors must have been vaccinated or have a negative PCR test.
Dubai World Expo 2021 in pictures
Panda robot and Hyperloop cabin
After the opening ceremony, which is held Thursday in the presence of members of the royal family, Expo 2020 promises to unveil architectural wonders and technological innovations in its many pavilions, representing more than 190 countries.
The Expo 2020 is one of the great ambitions of Dubai, which strings together the records to attract the glances and the tourists, as with its tallest tower in the world, Burj Khalifa, reaching 828 meters. “With Expo 2020, will Burj Khalifa become the new Eiffel Tower?” Asks the English-speaking Emirati newspaper The National. “The essence of World’s Fair has always been to deliver a global spectacle and the Emirates are in a good position to do that,” a column in this newspaper read.
Among the expected attractions: Chicago basketball players from Harlem Globetrotters and a Chinese panda robot. Fans of futuristic travel will be able to visit a Hyperloop cabin, while history buffs will have the opportunity to see an ancient sarcophagus in the Egyptian pavilion.
China boasts of having one of the largest, bulb-shaped pavilions, while Morocco has built its own in earth, citing environmental reasons. The Dutch will have a pyramid covered with edible plants and irrigated by solar rainwater.
France candidate for the organization of the Universal Exhibition of 2025
France’s “flying whale”
For its part, France sent the young French company Flying Whales to be represented there. The only start-up selected by the French authorities to promote innovative projects dedicated to mobility, Flying Whales (the “Flying Whale”) will present its airship project designed to transport heavy loads in inaccessible places. “We expect Dubai to publicize the solution and generate social support” around the project, explains its president Sébastien Bougon, while the airship is often associated in the collective unconscious with the Hindenburg disaster in 1937.
Most European states are participating in the event, despite the European Parliament’s call to boycott it, “to show their rejection of human rights violations in the Emirates”, according to a resolution passed in mid-September. Despite their international charm campaigns, the Emirates are regularly criticized by NGOs, especially for attacks on freedom of expression or the conditions of foreign workers, such as those deployed en masse to build the Expo 2020 site.