fire works at burj khalifa as UAE residents celebrate dubai wins expo 2020 bid photo:CLINT EGBERT Image Credit: XPRESS/Clint Egbert

DUBAI The entire nation erupted in joy on Wednesday as Dubai won the bid to host Expo 2020.

Fireworks lit up the skies as residents, united in pride, took to the streets in huge numbers to celebrate the momentous occasion. The festivities, which started around 8.30pm continued till well past midnight.

A hot favourite from the start, Dubai maintained a clear lead throughout the three rounds of voting in Paris. In the final round it got 116 votes to 47 for Yekaterinburg (Russia).

Sao Paulo (Brazil) was eliminated in the first round and the other contender Izmir (Turkey) in the second. The voting took place in Paris, France at the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) conference centre where representatives of the 165 member states of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) gathered to select the winning city.

“Celebrating the 42nd National Day is magnified by the Expo 2020 win,” said President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said: “We congratulate the nation, our President and all the people in the UAE on Dubai’s winning bid to host the greatest exhibition in the world. He also announced Thursday as a holiday for all educational institutions in the country.

Calling the Expo a gain for the whole region and world, he said: “As it has always been, Dubai is set to impress the world and deliver an exceptional Expo 2020. We renew our promise to astonish the world in 2020. Dubai will bring to life our vision: Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.”

“This is a moment to be embraced and owned by the entire nation and beyond — this is your Expo. It is an Expo for the World,” said Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation and Chairman and CEO of Emirates airline and Group, and Chairman of the Higher Committee for Hosting the World Expo 2020.

From the moment results from the first round of voting were announced, residents began sensing victory. Their anticipation and excitement was clearly visible on Dubai roads as many headed towards the Burj Khalifa where fireworks were in place.

As the result of the last round of voting neared, Shaikh Zayed Road almost came to a standstill as motorists expected the Burj Khalifa to erupt in a riot of colours at any moment.

And then it happened. Reminiscent of the famous New Year’s Eve celebrations, the world’s tallest tower gloriously announced to Dubai residents that the city had won the Expo bid.