Pledging to create an Expo ‘built by the world for the world’, Saudi’s bid came in first after months of intense lobbying in the run-up to the vote in Paris.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has personally led Saudi Arabia’s quest to host the Expo and has now been successful in securing one of the world’s premier events to promote the kingdom internationally. This announcement is of enormous importance and hugely symbolic as it coincides with the Vision 2030 program to diversify Saudi Arabia economically and culturally.
The hosting of the Expo is regulated by the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), whose member states voted for the winner at its general assembly. The size of the win, though, was quite unexpected, with Riyadh picking up 119 votes, South Korea’s Busan 29, and Italian capital Rome 17.
This announcement is of enormous importance and hugely symbolic as it coincides with the Vision 2030 program
Busan and Rome had fought hard, with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol in Paris only last week to make a final pitch, while Italy’s Premier Giorgia Meloni has lobbied for Rome in both the French capital and elsewhere.
The announcement came with Hollywood glitz and glamor, with South Korea bringing former Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon to back its bid and Italian Emmy award-winning actress Sabrina Impacciatore, known internationally for her role as Valentina on season two of the HBO black comedy-drama series The White Lotus, also turning up as part of the proceedings.
“Riyadh is an amazing city and ready to welcome all of you”
Representing Saudi, Portuguese football star Cristiano Rinaldo, who now plays for Riyadh side Al-Nassr, presented a video message, declaring: “Riyadh is an amazing city and ready to welcome all of you.”
The Kingdom is also set to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup after emerging as the only bidder for the event after Australia pulled out.