The government of the United Arab Emirates has formally requested the postponement of Expo 2020 Dubai.
The move came in a letter addressed to Dimitri Kerkentzes, secretary general of the Bureau International des Expositions, the body that awards hosting rights to the event.
Speculation has been mounting for some time that the event would be moved as the world battles to overcome the coronavirus pandemic.
In a letter to the Bureau International des Expositions, Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation of the UAE, seeks the postponement of the Expo.
The decision follows in-depth discussions by the Expo 2020 Dubai steering committee with the organiser and the Bureau International des Expositions on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and in solidarity with participating countries.
The United Arab Emirates has proposed October 1st next year for the event to start.
If agreed, the new Expo would run until March 31st, 2022.
The letter also specifies that should the member states approve the change of dates for Expo 2020 Dubai, the United Arab Emirates government requests approval to continue using “Expo 2020 Dubai” as the official name of the event.
A similar nomenclature was used for the Tokyo Olympic Games, which will still be referred to as ‘Tokyo 2020’ despite taking place next year.
Dimitri Kerkentzes, secretary general of the Bureau International des Expositions, will host a meeting to decide new dates for Expo 2020 Dubai later this month
The request of the United Arab Emirates government follows a meeting of the Expo 2020 Dubai steering committee on March 30th.
The committee, composed of representatives of the Bureau International des Expositions, participating countries and Expo 2020 organisers, reviewed with grave concern the major impact of the spread of Covid-19 on global public, social and economic health, and agreed to explore the possibility of a one year delay to the opening of the event.
A final decision on a change of dates can only be made by a two-thirds majority vote of member states, as stipulated by Article 28 of the 1928 Paris Convention, following a recommendation of the executive committee.
A meeting to make a final decision will take place virtually on April 21st, with the participation of members of the committee – delegates of 12 elected member states – as well Kerkentzes.
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.
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.
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 week 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.
For all the latest from Breaking Travel News on the coronavirus pandemic, take a look here.