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Expo 2020 set to create a lasting legacy
Reem Ibrahim Al Hashemi, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director-General of Bureau Expo Dubai 2020, speaks at the 159th general assembly of the Bureau International des Expositions.
Dubai thrives on setting difficult challenges and overcoming them, says official.

The World Expo 2020 Dubai will deliver lasting benefits for participants and visitors as well as for the UAE's prosperity and reputation, for business, for knowledge creation and for the wider region.
This was stated by secretary-general of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), Vincente G. Loscertales, during an interview with Khaleej Times.

The BIE is the Intergovernmental Organisation in charge of overseeing and regulating all international exhibitions that last more than three weeks and are of non-commercial nature. Today, four main expos are organised under its auspices: World Expos, International Specialised Expos, Horticultural Exhibitions and the Design Triennale of Milan.

Dubai will host the next World Expo with the theme 'Connecting Minds, Creating Future' and it will be held between October 2020 and April 2021. The mega exhibition will be one of the greatest shows on Earth. The international event will bring together more than 180 nations and an international audience of 25 million visitors.

"World Expos have a responsibility to educate as well as to entertain, and past expos have left transformative legacies for many cities, including Paris, Chicago, Barcelona, Shanghai and, of course, London where today many millions of people visit the South Kensington museums funded by, and built on, the site of the first Expo," Loscertales said.
Excerpts from the interview:

What role does the BIE play, and how do you work with Expo 2020 Dubai?

The BIE has overseen World Expos for nearly a century. They are the oldest and largest international events. Since London's Great Exhibition in 1851, they have been a unique celebration of our future.

We enjoy a close working relationship with Expo 2020 Dubai. We are collaborators in the development and delivery of a great event that will bring people together and leave them excited by the ideas and technologies that will shape the next 50 years of human development.

What was it about Dubai that helped it to win the right to host a World Expo? How is this reflected in the plans and progress you have seen?

Dubai's bid to host the 2020 World Expo was based on a profound insight.

Today's globalised, hyper connected, data-driven world is changing - constantly, rapidly and with far-reaching effects. It is too complex for us as individuals, groups or even single nations to navigate alone. We need to connect, form partnerships and share ideas in order to make a better future for everyone. This is the basis for the Expo 2020 Dubai theme: 'Connecting Minds, Creating the Future'.

The UAE perfectly encapsulates this idea in its airlines and airports, the strong union of seven emirates, and its population drawn from 200 nationalities. The entire development of the country - the infrastructure it has put in place, and the people it has nurtured - is based on being a point of connection.

I am excited by the progress I have seen in the last few months. The site is now ready for construction to begin. Switzerland has become the first state to announce its participation. And at last month's international planning meeting, representatives from 132 nations came to see the planning that is already well under way to ensure that Expo 2020 Dubai will deliver lasting benefits for the participants and visitors, as well as for the UAE's prosperity and reputation, for business, for knowledge creation and for the wider region.

You attended the first international planning meeting. What impressions of Expo 2020 Dubai are you taking away?

The meeting was a milestone for Expo 2020 Dubai in sharing its exciting story with the world. Dubai, with the support of the BIE, hosted government and diplomatic officials from around the world to highlight the benefits of participating in the World Expo.

This meeting was the first step in the development of a community of countries engaged around the theme 'Connecting Minds, Creating the Future', laying the foundations for a successful and insightful World Expo in 2020.

What are the biggest challenges that host cities typically encounter in preparation for the mega event? How do you think Dubai will face these challenges?

Hosting a World Expo is an enormous undertaking. In addition to the operational challenges required to organise such an event, the host country needs to capture the imagination and engage individuals, governments, organisations and companies from the UAE and abroad to be a part of this amazing event.

Expo 2020 Dubai will need to create an environment that weaves different cultures together into a single fabric, and then find ways of maintaining that afterwards as part of a meaningful and lasting legacy for all.

Doing this rests on the ability to attract the best and the brightest participants from around the world through the articulation of a theme that is accessible to everyone while at the same time challenging people to think in new ways. Expo 2020's theme, 'Connecting Minds, Creating the Future', does this well.

Expo 2020 Dubai has the ambition and ability to achieve this through collaboration with nations from around the world and to leave behind an enduring legacy for the UAE and the wider region.

All of this is challenging, but from all that I have seen through my close work with the organisation, Dubai is a city that thrives on setting itself difficult challenges, and then overcoming them. I'm confident that this time will be no different.

What are your expectations for the impact that Expo 2020 Dubai will have on the UAE and the entire region, not just economically, but in terms of legacy and reputation as well?

This will be the first World Expo to take place in the MEASA (Middle East, Africa and South Asia) region, an increasingly connected region that is home to over three billion people. It will also be the first time that a World Expo has been held in a location so easily accessible from Africa and South Asia, both fast-growing economies. The greatest World Expos have been those that have captured the spirit of their times while influencing the future. The UAE has a golden opportunity to do just that - by taking part in a pivotal moment where economic progress and technological innovations are being driven by these emerging economies.

We are witnessing social and technological changes at an unprecedented pace. The Middle East, Africa and South Asia have a huge role to play in the new world that we are entering.

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