An artist's impression of Expo 2020 at night. Dubai is competing against four other cities bidding to host the 2020 edition. Image Credit: Supplied

Paris: Battle lines in the race to host World Expo 2020 has narrowed down to four following the disqualification of Thai city of Ayutthaya by the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE).

Meanwhile, BIE’s General Assembly has approved Dubai’s bid, clearing a hurdle in its bid for Expo 2020. The BIE is hosting a two-day general assembly where the candidate cities are presenting their progress report.

“The Thai city of Ayutthaya has failed to meet the bid criteria and therefore is no longer in the race,” a source told Gulf News here in Paris, where the rest of the official candidate cities are making their second round presentation. Ayutthaya will not be presenting its progress report on Wednesday.

Among the rest, Dubai will face competition from Sau Paulo of Brazil, Izmir of Turkey and the Russian city of Yekaterinburg. With the growing political crisis in Turkey, Dubai is now clearly the front-runner for winning the bid which will be decided in November.

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Post reported that the president of the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) accused the government of ignoring and failing to support Thailand’s bid to host the World Expo in 2020 after the country was removed from the candidate list.

Akapol Sorasuchart was speaking as the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE), which comprises 163 member countries, started its two-day general assembly in Paris on Tuesday.

Dubai’s Higher Committee for Hosting the 2020 World Expo will make its final bid to host the event to the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) on Wednesday.

The World Expo is the third largest global, non-commercial event in terms of economic and cultural impact, after the Fifa World Cup and the Olympic Games.

A final decision will not be announced until November, when the BIE’s 166 members vote for the winner. Dubai’s theme for 2020 is “Connecting Minds, and Creating the Future,” and includes three sub-themes — mobility, sustainability and opportunity. The emirate’s bid also has some big name support, including former US President Bill Clinton and Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates.

Dubai is considered one of the front-runners to host the event. If Dubai wins its bid, the expo is expected to provide jobs for residents and citizens.

The estimated budget for development of infrastructure ranges between $2-$4 billion (Dh7.3-Dh14.6 billion).

It is expected that 25 million visitors would attend a Dubai-hosted World Expo 2020, with 70 per cent of those attending coming from outside the UAE. The event itself will be held equidistant between Dubai and Abu Dhabi on 438 hectares of land.

During a previous presentation to the BIE, Dubai’s Higher Committee for Hosting the 2020 World Expo said the focal point of the exhibition will be a central pavilion called Al Wasl, which means ‘The Connection’ in Arabic.

The plans for the arrangement of pavilions from visiting nations is inspired by Arabian souqs, or markets.

Smaller buildings will be located near the centre of the exhibition with larger buildings on the outside. To comply with its sub-theme of mobility, Dubai said it plans build an underground railway system to connect the Al Wasl with the outer pavilions.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, will be in Paris during the presentation.

Shaikh Mohammad arrived in Paris on Tuesday at the head of a high-level delegation visiting France, according to a WAM statement. He is expected to meet with the French President, Francois Hollande, and senior French officials.

In an article for Gulf News, Shaikh Mohammad on Tuesday addressed the governments representing the 166 countries that will vote on November 2013.

“We tell them that our region deserves the chance to organise this great world exhibition, that our country is ready to host it and that we are committed to staging the best Expo in history.”