The Expo 2020 Dubai, which was set to be the largest such event ever to be staged in the Middle East, has been postponed for a year due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The global mega event will now run from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022, a delay which the organisers say allows "all participants to safely navigate the impact of COVID-19, and allows the World Expo to focus on a collective desire for new thinking to identify solutions to some of the greatest challenges of our time".
In April the UAE made an official request to the Paris based Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) to postpone the event. The awarding body for World Expo said that the request would be discussed in a virtual meeting and options for a change of date would be found. Any change however required the approval of two-thirds of the 170 member states. Yesterday's vote saw the majority in favour of delaying the event by a year.
Dimitri S. Kerkentzes, secretary general of the BIE, said: "I applaud the swift response by BIE Member States. Their support for the postponement of Expo 2020 Dubai – which will be formally approved on 29 May – is a renewed sign of solidarity and demonstrates the shared will to work together in 'creating the future'."
While applauding the postponement, Kerkentzes went on to say that the delay would give the world the opportunity to reconvene in 2021 to "address the challenges facing humanity and celebrate the unity and solidarity that strengthen us".
Despite the postponement to 2021 Expo 2020 Dubai will retain its name.
Expo is a business and cultural event held every five years in cities around the world chosen by the BIE. Expo 2020 Dubai was to be the World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region. It is expected to be the largest ever event to take place in the Arab world, welcoming 192 countries, plus businesses, multilateral organisations and educational establishments.