Dubai: The crowd broke to a thunderous applause no sooner than it was there on the big screen that Dubai has won the Expo 2020 bid. Residents and tourists were treated to a magnificent firework display at the Burj Khalifa on Wednesday night, which soon turned to blue, the official colour of Dubai’s Expo 2020 bid, with crowds roaring in celebration.

Volunteers were seen going around distributing the Dubai Expo 2020 blue flag to the visitors. Jubilant crowds danced with joy, others waved the UAE flag with pride as the UAE National Anthem was played. The atmosphere wore a festive look with every single Emirati proud of what their city has achieved. “Dubai is always a winner,” is what they said.

“I am so happy that Dubai won. It deserved to win as everybody worked so hard, and to see history in the making is amazing,” said Mazouza Zegai, an Algerian who came draped in the UAE national flag. “The UAE and Dubai deserved to win. The city is safe. And then you have the Burj Khalifa here — so much to be proud of,” she added.

Anticipation turned into celebration at Dubai Mall too as hundreds gathered outside the mall by the Dubai Fountain to celebrate the success.

Crowds of Emiratis, expatriate residents, and tourists began to gather from 6pm outside the Dubai Mall and eventually lined the walkway from The Address Hotel down to the Burj Khalifa and Souk Al Bahar to hear the final announcement that Dubai had won the right to host Expo 2020.

A proud moment

Amel Mohammad, an Egyptian living in Dubai, told Gulf News it was a proud moment for Dubai and the Arab world. “I am so happy because I feel this is my second country,” she said, adding that the strong Dubai economy was more than capable of hosting the event. She said Expo 2020 would create more opportunities for Emiratis and expatriates living in the UAE.

Haifa Mohammad who was glued to the large TV screen that was especially installed for the visitors at Burj Khalifa was all smiles. For her it was a relief when she heard that Dubai has won the bid. “I wanted to be a part of the excitement and be with the people. Waiting for the final round was tough. And the moment the news broke it was time to celebrate. The fireworks were the icing on the cake.”

Residents and tourists were optimistic that the win will create more opportunities for growth in the region as Dubai is a trading and tourist hub.

Sulaiman Al Shehhi, an Emirati, said that Dubai always wins in every competition, and that he was certain from the start of the first round of voting that it was going to win.

“Our country is going to be bigger and is going to be recognised around the world. We, as a people, count on our leaders, and they have made us proud with this win,” an Emirati father told Gulf News.

Luluua Alowayed, visiting from Kuwait, headed down to the Dubai Fountain to watch the coverage and join in the celebrations. She told Gulf News that as a citizen of the GCC she was proud for her neighbouring country.

Waving the UAE flag from a corner was Chinese expatriate Michelle Jiang, who works in the sales industry. She said: “Expo 2020 will be good for all the sectors of Dubai, especially in tourism.”

Husband and wife Agha and Laila Nasair, Dubai residents originally from Pakistan, told Gulf News it was brilliant for the country and economy.

“This is the right time to be in Dubai, it really is the best city,” he said.


(By Mariam M. Al Serkal, Senior Reporter and Naushad K Cherrayil, Alexander Cornwell, Janice Ponce de Leon, Staff Reporters)