Expo 2020 Dubai: Sheikh Mohammed welcomes 170 delegates for pre-event meeting

With 150 days to go, officials meet in person as the city looks forward to the launch

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Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, welcomed commissioners of countries participating in Expo 2020 Dubai.

Expo's sixth International Participants Meeting was held by Sheikh Mohammed on Tuesday. It is the final gathering of nations, multilateral organisations, academic institutions and corporations before Expo 2020 Dubai opens.

The global event is scheduled to start in 150 days, on October 1, after being delayed a year because of the pandemic.

"Dubai today welcomed delegates representing 173 countries and 24 international organisations at the final international participants meeting before Expo 2020 Dubai opens in October," Sheikh Mohammed tweeted.

"The world is recovering ... and we are ready to welcome 190 countries to the world's greatest event."

Dubai's tourism chief said that key events such as Expo 2020 would help attract visitors to the city.

The participants' meeting welcomed more than 370 delegates from around the world, demonstrating the country's readiness to host the event, after the success of the UAE's measures to tackle the coronavirus.

"We are very optimistic on the numbers for the year," said Issam Kazim, chief executive of Dubai Tourism.

However, he said the pandemic made it difficult to predict how many business and leisure tourists would return.

Forecasts were "a little bit up in the air" as some markets that were expected to allow international travel were instead imposing restrictions, he said.

Plans for Expo 2020 are going ahead as scheduled.

"This could not have happened without the unwavering support and enthusiasm of every one of our 200-plus participants who have been by our side every step of the way," said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed, chairman of the Expo 2020 Dubai Higher Committee, state news agency Wam reported.

"As we approach the climax of our journey to deliver an Expo that inspires, enlightens and astonishes, our message is clear: We are ready to welcome the world.''

Delegates will receive updates on the six-month event during the two-day meeting, including the measures being taken, in line with the UAE’s wider efforts, to ensure the health and well-being of the expo’s workforce, participants and visitors.

The first World Expo to be held in the region will run from October 1 to March 31. The event coincides with the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE.

On Monday, charity Dubai Cares was the latest participant to reveal the details of its pavilion, which will shine a spotlight on education.

Last week, a replica of Michelangelo's masterpiece David was unveiled at the Italian pavilion.

In Pictures: the Italian pavilion