As the corks popped and the fireworks cracked nearly three years ago when Dubai won the right to stage Expo 2020, some killjoys could be heard wondering what all the fuss was about. After all, the event is only a business fair, isn’t it?
Simon Clegg, although not there at the time, would not have been among the cynics. “Expo will be the biggest event in the history of the Middle East and North Africa, in terms of the numbers attending,” he says, pointing out that the 25 million visitors expected is bigger than the crowds at the last two Olympics and World Cups combined.
But he feels the weight of history on his shoulders with Expo. “We’re carrying a burden for delivering something all Emiratis will be proud of. It’s a huge responsibility,” he says, looking out of the window of the Expo headquarters over a vast expanse of levelled sand.
For the UAE, Expo is a chance to showcase itself to the world just before the 50th anniversary of the founding of the country and to mark the progress the country has achieved in such a comparatively short time. The expectation is enormous. More info