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Dubai is striving to win over African countries in its bid to host World Expo 2020.
Since the first World Expo was held in 1851 in London, World Expositions have been attracting millions of visitors and strengthening connections, celebrating cultural diversity and presenting technological marvels. They have also been a catalyst for economic, cultural and social transformation while generating huge incomes for host cities and nations.
The latest such event was Shanghai Expo 2010, which attracted 73 million people and was held under the theme “Better City, Better Life”. It has been praised for transforming the center of the industrial city into a flourishing cultural and commercial district. Milan, an important commercial city in North Italy, is speeding up its preparations to hold World Expo 2015 themed “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Embassy in Addis Ababa, in collaboration with the Consul General of Sierra Leone in Dubai and the Sierra Leone Embassy in Addis Ababa, held discussions with representatives of African states at the Sheraton Addis on Monday. UAE, one of the world’s leading commercial hubs, declared its candidacy in October 2011 at the last minute and has partnered with Sierra Leone to enhance ties with Western African countries, according to Hashim Abdulla Al Shirawi, Vice Chairman of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Al Shirawi confirmed that Sierra Leone is collaborating with them because they understand the importance of holding such an event in Dubai. “They understand the significance of holding the Expo in Dubai because of its high connectivity and is located centrally in the world,” he stated.
The discussions were held in Addis, because heads of states and/or their representatives were here for the 50th anniversary of the Organization of African Unity (OAU)/African Union (AU), presenting the perfect opportunity needed. UAE’s Expo 2020 theme is “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” and will give the UAE an unprecedented opportunity for global exposure, given the city’s strategic location, according to Al Shirawi.
The city of Izmir, Turkey is also participating in the bid to host the Expo and representatives from the city had made a similar trip to Addis in January for the same purpose. Such Expositions are held once every five years and is endorsed by the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE).
Cities, including Ayutthaya of Thailand, Yekaterinburg of Russia and Sao Paulo of Brazil are also in the running to host this huge event alongside Dubai and Izmir. The election to select the city which will host World Expo 2020 will be held by the BIE in November 2013 in Paris, France. One hundred sixty five countries, which area members of the BIE, are due to cast their votes. Among these countries, 43 are expected to be from Africa.
In 2011, Izmir and Ayutthaya first announced their bid followed by the rest. There is a six-month window for cities interested in making a bid to host the event, this window closed in November 2011, at which point 5 cities had announced their candidacy. Dubai was the last-minute entrant. If the latest entrant wins the bid, it will host World Expo 2020 alongside its 50-year anniversary, stated Al Shirawi.