After six months of colourful and spectacular festivities that saw more than 20 million visits, the curtains came down on Expo 2020 Dubai.
The closing ceremony at Al Wasl Plazasaw some outstanding performances by global pop star Christina Aguilera, singer-songwriter Norah Jones and cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
The show also featured a remix of the Expo 2020 Dubai’s official This is Our Time. Where the song, first premiered at the opening ceremony featuring the vocals of veteran pop star Hussain Al Jassmi, fellow Emirati and rising talent Almas and Lebanese singer Mayssa Karaa, the new version was symphonic and recorded with a large choir.
The expo baton was handed over to officials representing the Japanese city of Osaka, which will host it next in 2025.
Dimitri Kerkentzes, secretary general of the Bureau International des Expositions in Paris, which since 1928 has overseen the world’s fair, said Dubai had thrown everything into the effort to make the event a success.
It’s clear that we have set a new bar here it’s something I believe [Expo 2025 Osaka] will look to aspire to
Mr Kerkentzes said on the final day.
Every Expo is different, but you have to think of what has been achieved here. This is something that we will think about for many, many years to come — to have some kind of strong impact on the future
Final visitor numbers will not be released for several days. But the event is known to have inched close to hitting its target of 25 million visits. In the space of three days last week, a million gate entrances were recorded.
Although most of Dubai’s coronavirus restrictions had eased by October 1, 2021, lockdowns in Europe, Asia and elsewhere made for a quiet opening three months.
By late December, nine million visits had been recorded.
While many of the large pavilions will be packed up or pulled down in the coming months, a significant number of the buildings will remain in an area called District 2020.
The structures around Al Wasl Plaza dome will remain, as will the lattice centrepiece itself, and others such as the Rove hotel.
Spreading out from that, the concrete low-rise towers that housed many of the smaller country pavilions will be transformed into workspaces and offices for 85 start-up companies. By October, a number of them will have moved into the site.
There are further plans to transform the upper floors of those buildings into loft-style apartments, while 2,800 residences in the Expo staff village will be rented out.