Dubai: After staging more than 30,000 events in 180 days across 96 locations, Expo 2020 Dubai is all set for a grand finale as the world’s biggest fair draws to a close on March 31.
The mega global event recorded more than one million visits last Friday, Saturday and Sunday as visitors were all set to say their final goodbyes to what has been a spectacular six months.
“The world has been fixated by Expo 2020 Dubai since it raised the curtain six months ago (October 1, 2021) in spectacular fashion and, as the sun sets on the most diverse World Expo in the history of the event, it will do so with a bang,” organisers said.
Everyone is invited to bid adieu to Expo 2020 Dubai on Thursday. Organisers said it will be a hive of pulsating energy and excitement from the time the gates open at 10am, through to the final closure at 3am, the following day (April 1.) But before that the Fursan Al Emarat aerobatics team of UAE Air Force are expected to wow the audience with a grand airshow between 4pm and 4.30pm.
The night will also be “a poignant journey back through some of the most evocative and momentous Expo 2020 Dubai moments. The closing ceremony is set to be a moment of triumph tinged with sadness that tugs at the heartstrings of all who have visited”.
Start of something new
“We started with the sunrise when Expo opened, and the closing ceremony is the sunset. But this is not the end. It’s the start of something new,” said Amna Abulhoul, Expo 2020 Dubai executive creative director.
She added: “As the event reaches its final chapter, we will be highlighting everything we have accomplished over the past six months and celebrating everyone who made it happen. This is a time to reflect on those things that are most important to us. Before our souls leave the earth our lives flash before us, and we will re-live some of Expo 2020 Dubai’s most important moments.”
Official closing ceremony
The official closing ceremony will be at the iconic Al Wasl Plaza, from 7pm-8pm, and is reserved for ‘VIP guests’ made up of school children aged seven to nine.
Tareq Ghosheh, Expo 2020 Dubai chief events and entertainment officer, said: “Public and private school children who have been active participants, performers, contributors and innovators, will be our VIP guests because they are the generation of the future who will carry the legacy of Expo Dubai forward. We are empowering the leaders of tomorrow.”
Kate Randall, vice-president, Expo 2020 Dubai, Ceremonies and Programming, Events and Entertainment, added: “The starting point for the closing ceremony was thinking about what Expo 2020 Dubai has meant for everyone, and what it has delivered.”
‘Keep an eye out’
Randall said: “The Sea of Nations segment, where we call all the countries back into the space with their flags from their National Day celebrations, is a beautiful moment and one to keep your eye out for.”
The evening will begin at 7pm with the young girl from the opening ceremony taking the audience on another journey. The audience beneath Al Wasl’s dome — home to the world’s largest 360-degree projection surface — will also put the focus on the next generation, as Expo exclusively invites hundreds of children from across the UAE to witness the wonders as the country looks to the next 50 years, having celebrated its Golden Jubilee during Expo 2020 Dubai.
There will be many pivotal moments to bring the Expo 2020 Dubai experience back to life in a series of flashbacks. From ‘Journey of the 50’ (Expo 2020 Dubai’s Golden Jubilee Show) and highlights from the ‘Boy and the Horse’, to capturing children splashing in ‘Surreal’ and families and friends connecting with one another. The cast of the closing ceremony includes more than 400 professionals and volunteers from 56 different countries, with 745 costumes created for the culmination of Expo. Forty members of a UAE-based children’s choir will perform Ishy Bilady, the national anthem of the UAE, joined by the all-women Firdaus Orchestra, conducted by Yasmina Sabbah.
As Expo 2020 Dubai looks to the future, Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence and Commissioner General of Expo 2020 Dubai, will hand the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) flag to ambassador Jai-chul Choi, president of the BIE General Assembly; and BIE secretary-general Dimitri Kerkentzes, who will then present the flag to representatives of Expo 2025 Osaka.
Later in the evening, global music icons will perform across various stages, with more than 20 giant screens streaming across the Expo site, including the main stages, Festival Garden and various country pavilions, enabling everyone to view the concerts
Grammy-winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma will play at Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre from 8.45pm; Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and pianist Norah Jones will entertain visitors with her own concert on the Jubilee Stage from 9pm; and pop legend Christina Aguilera will present an extended performance on the Jubilee Stage from 10.45pm.
Also taking the stage will be Expo 2020 World String Ensemble, a group of 16 international musicians led by maestro Harout Fazlian and Italian pianist Eleonora Constantini, familiar to many Expo visitors as the performer behind the Flying Piano show at Mission Possible — The Opportunity Pavilion.
The celebrations will continue throughout the night, with more fireworks displays at midnight and at 3am.
Driving visitor numbers
Meanwhile, more and more people are expected to rush to the Expo site in the last couple of days to say their “final goodbyes”. Organisers said more than one million visits were recorded over the weekend, driving the total number of visits to 22,937,830 until March 27.
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“This means the first World Expo in the region has fulfilled its commitment to attract between 22.9 million and 25.4 million visits, a target range set out in the registration dossier that was officially ratified by BIE member-states in 2015, and a remarkable achievement in the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic,” they added.
Today, the India Pavilion will celebrate its Expo 2020 Dubai National Day, with a concert by playback star Shaan. Also on the day, the Abraham Accords team will square up against a star-studded World Classic team in an exhibition match at Expo 2020 Dubai’s Sports, Fitness and Wellbeing Hub, followed by FIBA 3x3 basketball tournament at Expo Sports Arena on Wednesday.
Highlights and numbers
31 March – final day of Expo 2020 Dubai
10am – Expo gates open on Thursday until 3am the following day (April 1)
3 – grand firework displays from multiple locations, starting at few minutes before the official closing ceremony; next at 11.55pm; third and final one at 3am (April 1).
7pm-8pm – Official Closing Ceremony event at the iconic Al Wasl Dome
20 – giant screens spread across the Expo site streaming the events
400 – professionals and volunteers from 56 different countries, with 745 costumes created for the Expo closing ceremonies
40 – members of a UAE-based children’s choir will perform Ishy Bilady, the national anthem of the UAE, joined by the all-women Firdaus Orchestra, conducted by Yasmina Sabbah
3 – spectacular finale shows, featuring performances by Grammy-winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma (8.45pm at Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre); Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and pianist Norah Jones (9pm at Jubilee Stage); and pop music icon Christina Aguilera (10.45pm, Jubilee Stage)
16 – international musicians, led by maestro Harout Fazlian, and Italian pianist Eleonora Constantini, to perfrom at Mission Possible – The Opportunity Pavilion.
30,000+ – events took place in 180 days across 96 locations at Expo 2020
1 – million visits recorded on Expo’s final weekend, driving the total number of visits to 22,937,830 until March 27, reaching the target of 22.9 million to 25.4 million visits
24 – hours Dubai Metro is open on March 31 to serve Expo visitors
6 – months Expo 2020 Dubai has been open since October 1, 2021
3am – closing hour of Expo 2020 Dubai on April 1
2025 – next World Expo in Osaka, Japan
Expo grand finale
Official closing ceremony will be at the iconic Al Wasl Plaza, from 7pm-8pm. Event is reserved for ‘VIP guests’ made up of school children aged seven to nine.
The evening will begin at 7pm with the young girl from the opening ceremony taking the audience on another journey as the focus of the show will be on the youth. There will be a Sea of Nations segment, with countries waving their flags from their National Day celebrations.
It is also a night of nostalgia as pivotal moments of Expo 2020 Dubai’s journey come back to life in a series of flashbacks – from ‘Journey of the 50’ (Expo 2020 Dubai’s Golden Jubilee Show) and highlights from the ‘Boy and the Horse’, to capturing kids splashing in ‘Surreal’ and families and friends connecting with one another.
More than 400 professionals and volunteers from 56 different countries are part of the closing programme. A UAE-based children’s choir will perform Ishy Bilady, the national anthem of the UAE, joined by the all-women Firdaus Orchestra, conducted by Yasmina Sabbah.
There will be a turnover ceremony, with Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, UAE Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence and Commissioner General of Expo 2020 Dubai, handing over the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) flag to ambassador Jai-chul Choi, president of the BIE General Assembly; and BIE secretary general Dimitri Kerkentzes, who will then present it to representatives of Expo 2025 Osaka.
More concerts later in the evening, with global music icons performing across various stages. The celebrations will continue throughout the night, with more fireworks displays at midnight and 3am.
Closing ceremonies will be livestreamed on the Virtual Expo Dubai website and Expo 2020 TV