Since the pandemic grounded flights by its long-haul carrier Emirates and disrupted its real estate market, Dubai has been seeking to delay the event until next year.
Dubai's Expo 2020 world's fair will be postponed to Oct. 1, 2021, over the new coronavirus pandemic, a Paris-based body behind the events said Monday.
The announcement by the Bureau International des Expositions came just hours after police in Kuwait dispersed what they described as a riot by stranded Egyptians unable to return home amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The riot was the first reported sign of unrest from the region’s vast population of foreign workers who have lost their jobs over the crisis.
Dubai, a sheikhdom in the United Arab Emirates, has bet billions of dollars on Expo 2020 to rejuvenate its troubled economy. Since the pandemic grounded flights by its long-haul carrier Emirates and disrupted its real estate market, Dubai has been seeking to delay the event until next year.
Countries belonging to the bureau had been voting on the requested delay for days, with a final tally expected by the end of May. On Monday, however, the bureau said a required two-thirds of the countries in the organization had voted to approve the delay, meaning it would be granted.
The bureau’s executive committee voted unanimously in April to back the proposal, which will see the event run from Oct. 1, 2021, until March 31, 2022.
Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the chairman and CEO of Emirates who also serves on Dubai's Expo committee, welcomed the announcement in a statement.
“We are thankful to member states for their continued commitment to contributing to a World Expo in Dubai that will play a pivotal role in shaping our post-pandemic world at a time when it will be most needed,” Sheikh Ahmed said.
This skyscraper-studded city won the rights to host the event in 2014. That helped boost Dubai’s crucial real-estate market and had officials hoping for more tourists in this city-state that is home to the world’s busiest airport for international travel.
Now, the pandemic has jeopardized global tourism and caused further panic in a real-estate market already down by a third since the 2014 announcement.