Final push from Saudi Arabia, Italy, South Korea and Ukraine to win World Expo 2030 bid

A vote on bids from Riyadh, Rome, Busan and Odesa will be held in November

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The race to host World Expo 2030 is heating up as four nations drum up international support before the crucial vote in Paris in November.

Saudi Arabia, Italy, South Korea and Ukraine are in the running and have made detailed submissions to the Bureau International des Exposition (BIE), the inter-government organisation that regulates and oversees world fairs.

Teams from the BIE made final visits to Rome, Busan and Riyadh over March and April to assess the projects. This included site visits and meetings with government leaders, ministers, businesses and the public to gauge support in each country for the world fair.

Due to the war in Ukraine, the assessment of Odesa was completed via virtual presentations and a visit by Ukrainian officials to Paris.

Countdown to vote

Expo 2020 Dubai has often been praised by the BIE for its bold vision and resolute determination in delivering a successful megaevent during the global coronavirus pandemic.

With five months to go before the vote in Paris, government leaders are making a decisive push to garner support from the BIE's 170 member countries.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman travelled to France on Wednesday on a state visit where he will meet French President Emmanuel Macron and discuss the kingdom’s bid to host the Expo 2030.

A reception will also be organised by Saudi Arabia next week in Paris to discuss Riyadh’s candidacy.

Italy has launched a one-month exhibition in Paris dedicated to the Expo 2030 Rome pitch with 22 photographs that capture the architecture, fashion, cinema and hospitality the capital has to offer.

A Korean cultural festival is being held in Paris with a “Come to Busan” experience zone. The exhibition began in May and will continue until November.

Ukraine has unveiled a 3D model of the Expo site at a media centre in Odesa. They aim is to build one of the most environmentally-friendly Expo sites that will contribute to postwar recovery efforts.

A quick look at the bids from each nation:

Riyadh’s transformation

The Riyadh Expo 2030 site will be a five-minute drive from the capital’s airport and will be connected by the city’s metro network.

The bid coincides with the delivery of Vision 2030, a masterplan for the transformation of Saudi Arabia launched by Prince Mohammed.

The plan is to influence the world to choose a better future under the theme: Together for a foresighted tomorrow.

The three sub-themes look to explore future innovations in science and technology serving humanity in a responsible manner, preserving ecosystems and delivering sustainable solutions, and looking to address the imbalances across the world.

Riyadh’s expo logo is a palm tree with six fronds to symbolise nature, art, architecture, technology, science and tradition.

Rome’s regeneration

The proposed site is in the Tor Vergeta district in the south-east of Rome.

The theme of People and Territories: Regeneration, Inclusion and Innovation was highlighted in a theatrical light and music show with drones over the ancient Colosseum in April.

Rome aims to address how people and communities interact with their natural, man-made and virtual environments.

The plan includes the renewal of neighbourhoods, deepening the link between industry and agriculture and building one of the largest urban solar farms.

Busan’s technology drive

South Korea's expo committee released a video with messages of support from 100 Korean celebrities.

Busan’s theme is: Transforming our world, navigating towards a better future.

The event will be held across land and water sites in a former industrial area of the northern port of Busan.

The aim is to address the changes required for people to form close ties with nature and technology.

The city will showcase eco-friendly vehicles powered by green energy in time for the 2030 expo.

The expo is part of the country’s aim to spread South Korea’s technological expertise globally.

Odesa’s recovery

Ukraine has said it is committed to hosting the expo despite the war that has devastated the country.

The aim is to send local builders, architects and companies to construct the site, create jobs for citizens and attract investment.

The country’s expo committee said despite the struggles it faced, it had fulfilled the requirements of the bid process.

An expo in Odesa will be a symbol of Ukraine’s postwar reconstruction.

Odesa’s theme is: Renaissance. Technology. Future and the proposed fair will be held on fields between the Black Sea and the Khadzhibey estuary.

The vision is to address the role of people in a technology-dominated future and view progress through the lens of sustainable development.

What happens now?

The project examination phase of the bids has been completed.

Diplomats from each country will work to spread awareness about work being done ahead of the event.

BIE missions that visited each country examined the theme, the proposed site, its planned re-use after the expo ends, the level of local and national support for the project, the participation and financial feasibility.

The general assembly of the BIE will vote in November to choose the host country for the World Expo 2030.

World expos take place every five years and last up to six months. Expo 2020 Dubai was the most recent and recorded more than 24 million visits.

The next world expo will be in Osaka, Japan between April and October 2025 under the theme: Designing future society for our lives.

Updated: June 15, 2023, 5:34 AM