Fireworks display on Burj Khalifa as Dubai wins the Expo 2020. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Our man Robin Chatterjee was in Paris to witness history being made this evening as Dubai won the right to host Expo 2020. Here's how he delivered news of the drama and the result, with input from Janice Ponce de Leon, who was at Dubai Mall:

8.41pm: Fireworks at Dubai Mall, traffic on Shaikh Zayed Road. Dubai flies into celebration mode as the World Expo 2020 is in the bag. A historic night for the UAE in Paris as the emirate storms home with 116 votes in the final round, to 47 for Russia. A momentus victory!

8.35pm: DUBAI WINS EXPO 2020. The world community reaffirmed its confidence in the UAE on Wednesday night, approving Dubai’s bid to host the World Expo 2020. Dubai won the bid in the third round of voting in Paris, beating Russian city Ekaterinburg.

8.21pm: A total of 132 votes have been cast now. Home stretch approaching

8.12pm: 117 votes cast in final round...

8pm: Janice Ponce de Leon at Dubai Mall

A jubilant crowd hailed the announcement that Dubai made it to the round three, tightening the fight between Dubai and Yekaterinburg/Russia. Mall goers are glued to the screen in anticipation of the final announcement. One Emirati father, who's watching the live coverage with his family, said his "heart is beating 5,000 times faster" because of excitement.

7.46pm: Dubai is now through to the third and final round where they face off against Russia. Turkey are out with 36 votes. the UAE's performance has grown from strength to strength. They received 87 votes in the second round, an improvement of 10 votes. Russia received 41 votes and were up by two votes from their first round showing. Turkey are now out of the competition with 36 votes. There was one abstention.

The final round will determine the winner of the Expo 2020. Dubai can win with a simple majority.

7.31pm: Two thirds of the votes needed again to win in round 2, 110 out of 165. It's difficult to see Dubai getting there in two rounds after getting 77 votes in round 1. But in round 3 all they need is more than 50%, or 83 votes. They already have 77...

7.20pm: Janice Ponce de Leon at Dubai Mall

Crowds cheered when they heard that Dubai made it on the first round of voting, garnering 77 votes.

But residents will have to wait one hour more for the result of the second round of voting, keeping everyone in suspense.

"We're excited about the Expo results. We're from Kuwait and we want Dubai to win," Dhari Al Muawed, an industrial engineer who is in Dubai for the Big 5, told Gulf News. "Another hour is going to be a long wait. But we're excited."

7.08pm: UAE have made a strong showing in their first round with a total of 77 votes.

Russia came in second place with 39 votes.

Turkey got 33 votes and Sao Paulo is out with 13 votes.

The UAE now goes into the second round with three nations taking part.

They got a big lead in the first round with a percentage of 47.24 votes.

7.02pm: Dubai has 77 first-round votes, putting it through to the second round. Sao Paolo has been eliminated in the first round.

6.58pm: 163 nations have turned up so far. This is getting to be a good showing and obviously useful for the UAE.

6.51pm: 160 nations have now voted, more than the 155 they were expecting to turn up. The maximum expected is 168... 

6.50pm: Voting has crossed past the 125 vote mark...the first round is going to end soon and votes will be compiled per country.

The order of voting is as follows

1. Brazil/Sao Paolo

2. Russia/Ekaterinburg

3. Turkey/Izmir

4. UAE/Dubai

5. Abstentions

6.43pm: Janice Ponce de Leon, live at Dubai Mall:

Crowds have started to gather outside Dubai Mall just below The Address Hotel to watch the announcement of the winning host city through live TV coverage from Paris. 

Mall security has been beefed up at the mall entrance to ensure smooth flow of visitors.

Expatriates working at the mall spent their breaks at the viewing area, with the Burj Khalifa as the backdrop.

Geralyn Rumpf, who works in a cafe at Dubai Mall, is confident Dubai will win. She told Gulf News she believes the hospitality sector has a lot to gain from a successful Expo bid.

"There will be more investments, more tourists, and we at the hospitality sector will directly benefit," Rumpf said.

6.39pm: The first round of voting has just past the 100 vote mark. More than half the votes have been cast and the tension in the room seems to be slowly building. Delegates are trying their best to keep their cool, some are breaking out in a sweat.

6.36pm: A total of 95 nations have voted so far with the representative of one country failing to operate the voting machine properly. This means that one vote has been lost and for some country it could prove to be extremely crucial.

6.21pm: UAE has cast its vote with Reem Al Hashemi doing the honours. 26 nations have voted so far...

6.10pm: And so the first round of voting to determine the initial winners of the Expo 2020 has begun.

The proceedings started late. They are expected to finish by 6pm Paris time. This means approximately 9pm UAE time.

The results according to sources will be made by announcement and not through intermediaries.

Gulf News is working alongside a group of reporters from Russia, who are covering Ekataringburg's bid for 2020, and they seem to be awe struck by Dubai's bid and the emirates itself.

''It seems as if Dubai is already an Expo and is ready to host the event tomorrow,'' one of the Russians remarked.

5.56pm: Voting is underway in Paris. Reem Al Hashmi and two other members of the UAE delegation are allowed to attend the voting. It's a behind-closed-doors, secret ballot. Results of the first round expected at 6.30pm.

5.47pm: Reporter Janice Ponce de Leon is at Dubai Mall:

Visitors at the Dubai Mall got a chance to witness Dubai's final presentation for the World Expo 2020 in Paris through a televised feed projected in one section the mall on Wednesday afternoon.

Mall goers and tourists sat patiently as the Dubai Expo Bid committee, through UAE Minister of State Reem Al Hashemi, presented its case to the 168 member nations of the Bureau International des Expositions to win the rights to host the World Expo in 2020.

Abdulla Silim from Toronto, Canada came to the Dubai Mall with his family to be part of the celebrations if Dubai wins.

"That's precisely why we're here. We're travelling on holiday to Malaysia but we decided to stop over to Dubai to celebrate the National Day and the Expo 2020, should Dubai win," Silim told Gulf News.

"I think Dubai deserves to win the bid. It's the most welcoming city plus it's the transit point between east and west. So the world can celebrate together here," he added.

Mohammad Al Ahmad, who attended a conference in Dubai, said he is rooting for the city to win.

"I'll be very happy if Dubai wins because it's part of GCC. I expect it to win because it's a peaceful city and its people are from different cultures," the Bahraini engineer said.

Sitting quietly in a corner was Jackson Nfor Dangmbe, an expatriate from Cameroon in Africa. He became ecstatic when Gulf News asked him about his thoughts on the Expo. 

He said: "I'm definitely excited. If Dubai wins, of which I am certain of, Africa stands a chance to showcase itself to the world. It will give Africa a good chance o participate in a World Expo as well," he told Gulf News.

 

5.25pm: Delegates are now beginning to troop into the main auditorium hall as the first round of the voting process is coming close. Air is filled with suspense and negotiations are still being made.

4.37pm: It's lunchtime in Paris. First round of voting is due to begin at 5.30pm UAE time, with results expected at 6.30pm. Unless one bid gets two thirds of the vote, we then move on to round two and then round three. The final verdict is expected at 8.30pm, but as these things sometimes run late, it will probably be a bit later than that.

3.43pm: Following the conclusion of all the four bids, the Secretary General of the BIE said: ''All four candidates have put in strong credentials. The themes of the bids varied according to the style of the country. We saw emotional overtones, scientific, technological and health overtones as well. I can assure you that this will be tough competition.''

On the fact that countries had flown in high-level ministers, the secretary general stated, ''The presence of these ministers is good but I can assure you it won't affect the nature of the voting at this stage.''

He said: ''Dubai's bid was excellent. I was very impressed. Should they win, it will be a wonderful Expo.''

He added: ''At present, according to my lists, 155 countries will attend the voting. This has changed from the total of 165 which I had predicted. I hope that the other nations turn up for the voting.''

3.14pm: Izmir is winding down its presentation. This is the fourth and final presentation from the competing countries. Delegates will be voting after that. A total of 165 votes may be cast. It is expected that the competition will be very tight.

3.08pm: The mayor of Izmir takes the stage to address the delegates: "Izmir is the centre of happiness when 15 million people live. We have the university Olympic games not long ago. We have participated in an Expo 169 years ago and here we are submitting out bid again. We have learnt lesson from our bid for 2015 and today we can guarantee that there will be a flawless organisation and a breaktaking atmosphere to welcome visitors."

2.51pm: Russian Prime minister Dmitry Medvedev, in a televised address, promised the most exciting Expo ever, should Ekatarinburg win this race for 2020. It followed Russian deputy prime minister making a case for his country.

Andre Geim, 2010 winner of physics Nobel Prize, also spoke to the delegates to make a case for Ekaterinburg. He highlighted the Russian space programme and 26 Nobel Prize winners in his statement.

The Russian government is guaranteeing visa free travel for all travellers to the Expo.

The Russians closed their presentation by wishing all other candidates the best of luck, saying 'Iit was a fair, open and friendly fight.''

2.48pm: Sao Paulo completed its presentation with the city's mayor speaking of the city as the heart of Brazil and at the cutting edge of sporting talent,  scientific achievements, movie industry and cuisine.

He said Latin America has never hosted an Expo and it was time for the expo to come to Sao Paulo.

2.28pm: Hashimi's powerful closing points: "Ladies and gentleman, as you cast your vote this afternoon, know that we are humbled by this powerful and decisive moment that is upon us. In this final address, I represent the voice of million of my people. I stand before you as a civil servant, mother and a daughter, but as someone who will make a difference and inspire a change."

2.10pm: State Minister Reem Al Hashimi begins to make the case for the UAE: "Today I stand before u delivering the most important speech of my life. We would be honoured privileged to host Expo 2020 in Dubai.

"We began this journey with a view that we were willing to understand  what the future would be. We explored ideas and thoughts and then we defined the road map for Dubai Expo 2020."

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid attended this assembly promising to deliver the highest bid.

1.27pm: The clock is ticking away and in a few minutes the UAE delegation willl be trooping in to make the first of four presentations presentations to clinch the right to host Expo 2020. Each nation will get 20 minutes to make their case, after which they will be cut off midway through their arguments. The UAE are now getting ready to come inside the hall.

1.07pm: Even the Secretary General of the BIE is admitting to feeling tense over the day's proceedings and stated that he just wants "things to get over and done with. We will be happy for the winner and we promise to work with them and we will feel bad for the countries that will fail to make it."

1.04pm: Delegates have begun to file inside the OECD centre ahead of the presentations that will determine the winner of Expo 2020. The UAE delegation have arrived and have gathered inside their allocated VIP rooms. The assembly has begun and the secretary general of the BIE has begun his address welcoming all members and deliberating on the specific points of Expo 2017 to be hosted in Astana, Kazakhstan.