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Coronavirus: Expo 2020 Dubai postponed by a year

Two-thirds majority of member states of the Paris-based organisation voted in favour of a delay
Dubai has already scrapped a string of cultural and entertainment events amid the pandemic (AFP)

The Expo 2020 global trade fair, hosted by Dubai, has been postponed by a year due to the coronavirus outbreak and will be held from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022, the Paris-based organiser said on Monday.

The six-month, multibillion-dollar global innovation fair, set to be the largest event ever staged in the Arab world, was expected to attract some 24 million visitors starting 20 October this year.

But a two-thirds majority of member states of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) voted in favour of a delay requested by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which the body said "allows all participants to safely navigate the impact of Covid-19".

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"Expo 2020 Dubai is gearing up to help shape a post-pandemic world and create a better future for all," the bureau said in a statement.

The delay "also allows the World Expo to focus on a collective desire for new thinking to identify solutions to some of the greatest challenges of our time".

Dubai, the wealthy city-state which is part of the UAE and is known for hosting hundreds of conferences annually, has already scrapped a string of cultural and entertainment events amid the pandemic that has claimed more than 247,000 lives around the world to date.

The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the UAE has reached 14,163, with 126 deaths and 2,763 patients having recovered as of Monday.

Unable to meet in a general assembly due to epidemic restrictions, BIE member states voted remotely on the delay.

The vote technically remains open until 29 May, but the required two-thirds threshold for approving the postponement was reached within a week of voting opening on 24 April, the statement said.

The BIE also voted to retain the name Expo 2020 Dubai, AFP reported

It will be the first World Expo held in the BIE's Middle East, Africa and South Asia region, welcoming 192 countries, plus businesses, multilateral organisations and educational establishments.

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