A child dressed as Santa's Helper at Opportunity District at Expo 2020 Dubai recently Image Credit: Expo 2020 Dubai

Dubai: Expo 2020 Dubai visitor numbers have soared past the 8 million mark (to 8,067,012 in the period up to December 27) since its opening in October, recently driven by Christmas celebrations and the Dh95 festive pass valid until the end of December, organisers said on Monday.

During the past week, Expo celebrated Christmas with a series of events. Academy and Grammy award-winning composer A.R. Rahman, during a concert on December 22, thanked audiences for being responsible and encouraged everyone to wear masks – a message echoed on Christmas Day by award-winning actress and singer Lea Salonga and internationally acclaimed singer and pianist Joe Stilgoe.

safety measures
Expo’s COVID-19 safety measures include mandatory mask-wearing – indoors and outdoors – for visitors, as well as all staff and participants. Venues may also close temporarily for deep cleaning and sanitisation in response to positive cases detected by workforce testing protocols, as well as for maintenance, private events and staff shortages.

On December 24, The Holy See held a prayer service for humanity; award-winning Lebanese singer Tania Kassis and the Festival Chorus performed a carol service, while the UK’s “most successful” gospel choir group, the London Community Gospel Choir, and American soul artist Naia Izumi entertained audiences.

Visitors watching Palestine National Day Parade at Expo recently Image Credit: Expo 2020 Dubai

Upcoming events

The next seven days will see a focus on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Helping visitors ring in 2022 will be two of “the world’s biggest DJs” – Dimitri Vegas, who will perform at Jubilee Park from 11.30pm, and Armin Van Buuren, a producer of electronic music, who will be in action from 0130 GST.

New Year’s Eve will also see numerous Arab, Filipino and Indian DJs performing sets, and there will be a midnight ‘ball drop’ moment at Al Wasl Plaza, as well as two separate fireworks displays at midnight and 0300 GST.

Dubai Metro will run continuously throughout New Year’s Eve.

Meanwhile, Expo’s virtual visitation rose to 37 million up to December 27, with more than 3 million children around the world enjoying the Virtual School Animation Series – now available in six languages – in the last 20 days alone.

Expo runs until March 31, 2022.