The executive committee of the Bureau International des Expositions has unanimously agreed to propose the postponement of Expo 2020 Dubai.
The decision comes after the United Arab Emirates formally requested a delay earlier this month in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The bureau now hopes to host the event next year, running from October 1st until March 31st, 2022.
According to article 28 of the Paris convention of 1928, changing the dates of an expo requires the support of a two-thirds majority of member states of the Bureau International des Expositions.
As such, the general assembly will now be called upon to vote on the executive committee’s recommendation
Voting will be carried out remotely from Friday until May 29th.
Members of the committee – delegates of 12 member states elected by the Bureau International des Expositions’ general assembly - met virtually earlier to examine the change in dates requested by the government of the United Arab Emirates.
This request was made after a meeting of the Expo 2020 Dubai steering committee at the end of March, in which participating countries expressed their need to postpone the expo’s opening in order to overcome the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Assessing the unforeseen impact of the Covid-19 on public health, economic activity and global restrictions on movement, the executive committee unanimously recommended approving the United Arab Emirate’s request to postpone the event.
Delegates also decided to maintain the name Expo 2020 Dubai for any future event.
Dimitri Kerkentzes, the secretary general of the Bureau International des Expositions, stated: “World Expos are collective endeavours that express the shared international goal of progress for all humankind.
“I am confident that when the time is right, Expo 2020 Dubai will constitute the best platform to build, with renewed optimism and hope, a better and brighter future for all.”
Dimitri Kerkentzes, secretary general of the Bureau International des Expositions, has sought approval to move the event to 2021
Considering the practical impossibility of holding a general assembly, member states will be asked to cast their vote remotely by May 29th.
Should the motion receive a two-thirds majority of eligible and voting member states - which is seen as a formality - the dates of Expo 2020 Dubai will be officially changed.
Alain Berger, delegate of France and the chairman of the executive committee of the Bureau International des Expositions indicated: “The United Arab Emirates’ willingness to listen to participating countries and its pragmatism to take the necessary steps towards postponement demonstrate yet again its strong commitment to hosting a truly inclusive and inspirational World Expo.
“The Executive Committee of the BIE fully supports the UAE’s request for postponement and recommends that countries around the world reach the same consensus.”
The first world Expo to be hosted in the Middle East, Africa or south Asia, Expo 2020 will welcome more than 200 international participants, including a record 192 countries.
It will connect nations, multinational corporations, non-government organisations and millions of visitors from all over the world, providing an opportunity to see future innovations, marvel at unique architecture, experience diverse cultures, taste cuisines from all over the world, and enjoy live performances, art and other entertainment.
Through its theme, ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, and its three subthemes – opportunity, mobility and sustainability – Expo 2020 aims to unlock the potential of each visitor while encouraging collaboration and presenting opportunities for all to make a difference towards the future development of humanity and our planet.
Through numerous initiatives on the journey, such as Expo Live, the Expo School Programme, the World Majlis series and various business programmes, Expo 2020 is already making a significant impact in Dubai.
The event will provide a platform to foster creativity, innovation, and collaboration globally.
It is based on the belief that sharing innovative ideas and building partnerships will inspire the way we shape our future in the most positive way possible.
Expo 2020 Dubai will work towards enabling new opportunities for individuals and communities to help them achieve their needs and inspire them to pursue their future aspirations (aligning with the global vision of the United Nations sustainable development goals.
The event will focus on providing easier access to knowledge, markets and innovation by working on solutions and technologies that will facilitate the movement of people, goods and ideas.
Commenting on the proposed delay, Reem Al Hashimy, United Arab Emirates minister of state for international cooperation and director general of Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “We welcome today’s recommendation of the Bureau International des Expositions executive committee to support a request by the United Arab Emirates government and Expo 2020’s steering committee to postpone Expo 2020 for a year.
“Now the official process for agreeing a delay begins, and we look forward to working constructively with Bureau International des Expositions member states, our friends, and partners to confirm the new date of October 1st, 2021, when the Expo will open its doors, and the United Arab Emirates will welcome the world.”
The Expo site, which will cover a total of 438 hectares, is located in the Dubai South district, near the Al Maktoum International Airport.
The spatial organisation of the site embodies the Expo’s theme and subthemes, drawing inspiration from local urban design, architecture and the natural environment.
The site is designed to resemble three petals connected to Al Wasl Plaza, the iconic centrepiece named after the historic name for Dubai, meaning ‘the connection’.
The 150 metre-diameter plaza will feature a massive domed trellis that will also act as an immersive 360-degree projection surface.
It will also connect to the Dubai Metro Route 2020 link and the falcon-inspired UAE Pavilion.
The petals are Expo 2020’s three thematic districts – opportunity, mobility and sustainability.
The concept of sustainability has been integrated into the planning of the site and its use both during and after the Expo.
As well as strategies to optimise the sustainability of buildings and infrastructure, Expo 2020 Dubai aims to generate half of the site’s energy needs over the six-month duration from renewable sources, and half of this will be generated on the site itself.
All water used in irrigation and cooling will be recycled, and 90 per cent of the permanent construction material will be reused or repurposed in the aftermath of the Expo.
Concluding, Kerkentzes added: “Solidarity and unity have defined the work of the Bureau International des Expositions since the birth of our organisation.
“Expos are expressions of a collective engagement, bringing humanity together in a spirit of peace and cooperation.
“It is now for our member states to make a decision about when we will reconvene in Dubai to celebrate innovation and cooperation for humankind.”
As plans are put in place to push Expo 2020 into next year in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Breaking Travel News earlier this month caught up with Sumathi Ramanathan, director of destination marketing for the event, to find out what the delay might mean for hospitality in the Middle East.
Find out more about Expo 2020 Dubai on the official website.