DUBAI: Dubai beat off opposition from Brazil, Russia and Turkey on Wednesday to win the right to host the 2020 World Expo, sparking celebrations in the Gulf city and a stunning fireworks display at the world’s tallest building.
City authorities declared on Thursday a school holiday to celebrate the victory.
The Burj Khalifa tower, which stands 828-meters high, was lit up with the pyrotechnics, while fireworks were also set off elsewhere in the coastal city.
The Gulf city beat Russia’s Ekaterinberg in the final round of voting in Paris to clinch a prestigious event that is credited with delivering a huge boost to tourism and business in the host city.
Dubai, the economic and transport hub of the United Arab Emirates, won 116 votes in the third round, comfortably beating Ekaterinberg with 47. There was one abstention.
The four candidate cities, which also included Brazil’s Sao Paulo and Turkey’s Izmir, had pulled out all the stops during 20-minute presentations before voting by the 168 member states of the International Exhibitions Bureau (BIE), headquartered in Paris, which oversees the organization of the events.
The Emirates kicked off their presentation by pitching Dubai as a futuristic, glitzy city.
The victory for Dubai—home to the world’s tallest tower, largest man-made island and one of the world’s busiest airports—means the World Expo will be hosted by an Arab country for the first time.
It also confirmed the growing success of Gulf states in bidding for international events. Nearby Qatar, somewhat controversially, is to host the 2022 football World Cup.
“We renew our promise to astonish the world in 2020,” Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, said after the win.
“Dubai Expo2020 will breathe new life into the ancient role of the Middle East as a melting pot for cultures and creativity,” he said in a statement.
He promised the Dubai expo will “undoubtedly stand out as the best edition in the history of the event in terms of preparation and presentation.”