Forums, shows and country pavilions attracted scores of visitors to the mega site Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Expo 2020 Dubai reached the milestone of 20 million visits on Saturday.

The achievement will be celebrated later on Saturday at 8.30pm, with a special projection on Al Wasl dome and fireworks.

Almost 70 per cent of visits came from the UAE. Latest figures show that children under the age of 18 have visited more than 2.8 million times.

Upcoming events

There is still opportunity to experience Expo with Water Week – the 10th and final Expo 2020 Dubai Theme Week – running from March 20 to 26 and examining how we can protect our most precious resource. The Week is part of the Programme for People and Planet, which seeks to explore humanity’s most critical challenges and opportunities.

A host of countries from across the planet will celebrate their Expo 2020 Dubai National Days, including Canada (19 March), Pakistan (23 March), South Africa (28 March) and India (28 March), followed by the Honour Day of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), the governing body of World Expos, on 30 March.

Expo 2020 Dubai Run 3 brings down the curtain on the sporting series on March 26, while a high-quality programme of entertainment and activities will continue during the next two weeks.

Only 13 days remain until Expo concludes on March 31.

Welcoming the world

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President, Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group and Chairman of the Expo 2020 Dubai Higher Committee, said: “When we started this journey in 2013, and even before then as we prepared the bid for Expo 2020 Dubai, we had a dream to welcome the world to Dubai and the UAE for an unprecedented global gathering that would live long in hearts and minds.”

He added: “That we have fulfilled this dream is already beyond doubt, but to achieve such a landmark number of visits is true testament to how the world has responded to what we have worked so long and hard to create. We trust that those millions of people will take their memories back to their families and friends, wherever they are from in the world, to continue the impressive work we have set in motion at Expo 2020 Dubai.”

Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence Commissioner General of Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “The opportunity to safely unite the world in the wake of the pandemic to deliver an experience with real significance is one which we have not taken for granted, and we are thrilled that Expo 2020 Dubai has proved so impressively popular.”

He added: “In the spirit of optimism, millions of visitors and participants have come together, not only to witness and enjoy something truly remarkable, but to also work together to drive positive social and environmental impact. Expo 2020 Dubai has demonstrated exceptional capability and agility in achieving a consistently high turnout amid continuing global challenges, and, as we begin our bittersweet countdown to the final curtain, we are proud of the collective efforts of all those involved.”

‘Beacon of hope’

Also celebrating the milestone, Dimitri Kerkentzes, Secretary General of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), the governing body of World Expos, said: “Expo 2020 Dubai has been an incredible platform of positivity, a beacon of hope at a time when the world needed it most. We will miss it when it is gone, but we are confident that its legacy of impact and purpose, in terms of driving positive action around the globe, will continue long after March 31.”

The Steering Committee of the College of Commissioner Generals of Expo 2020 Dubai lauded Expo’s connecting power, particularly given the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the fact that Expo’s programming aligned with other global initiatives and impactful conferences across Dubai and the wider UAE.

The committee praised Expo’s Theme Weeks, part of the Programme for People and Planet, with Water Week (20-26 March) set to complete the 10 weeks that form a key part of the programme, and discussed plans for BIE Honour Day on March 30 and the Expo 2020 Dubai Closing Ceremony. It will meet again on April 2, after Expo 2020 Dubai closes its gates for the final time.

The meeting of the committee, which represents Expo’s 192 participating nations, was attended by Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director-General, Expo 2020 Dubai; and Kerkentzes. It was chaired by Manuel Salchli, Chair of the Expo 2020 Dubai Steering Committee and Commissioner-General for Switzerland at Expo 2020 Dubai.