Coronavirus: UAE proposes new start date for Dubai Expo 2020

The event is expected to be rescheduled to October 1, 2021

FILE - In this Oct. 8, 2019 file photo, technicians walk at the under construction site of the Expo 2020 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. On Monday, March 30, 2020, the organizers of Expo 2020 recommended postponing the world's fair until next years over the new coronavirus pandemic. Dubai has already spent billions of dollars on the world's fair, which was supposed to take place in October. The ultimate decision over the event will be made by the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions, which had awarded the fair to Dubai in 2014. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili, File)

The UAE government has proposed a new start date for Expo 2020 Dubai, the governing body of the world fair said.

The event would begin on October 1, 2021 and run until 31 March, 2022.

Bureau International des Expositions made the announcement on Saturday. Expo 2020 was due to begin on October 20.

It followed the decision by Dubai's authorities last week to look at postponing the six-month event to allow the global tourism and business markets to recover from the impact of coronavirus.

Paris-based BIE has convened a meeting of its executive committee for 21 April to discuss the proposed change of dates. The change can go ahead if two-thirds of the committee, comprised of 12 elected member states, vote in favour.

The formal request was made in a letter addressed to Dimitri Kerkentzes, secretary general of the BIE, from Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

BIE said the expo steering committee "reviewed with grave concern the major impact of the spread of Covid-19 on global public, social and economic health".

It also said the UAE has proposed that Expo 2020 be kept should the change in dates go ahead.

Governments across the globe are working to halt the spread of Covid-19, of which there were more than one million confirmed cases as of this weekend. In the UAE, the number of cases has doubled in the past five days to 1,264 as of Saturday.

Speaking last week, Reem Al Hashimy, director general of Expo 2020 Dubai and Minister of State for International Co-operation, said

“As we worked towards October 2020, something terrible happened to our world,” she said.

“And so our journey must take a different turn. We must adjust our opening dates for Expo 2020 Dubai and spend the time now with our friends across the globe, banding together, working together to emerge stronger than ever before.

“When we come together as one, humanity has no limits.”