In a landmark decision, Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, has been chosen to host the 2030 World Expo. The announcement was made on Tuesday, 28th November, following a vote by the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE). Riyadh outdid its competitors, Pusan in South Korea, and Rome in Italy, and secured the honor despite being the most controversial candidate.
A Step Towards a Sustainable Future
Riyadh's bid was centered around showcasing world-class natural landscapes and a pledge to host the first carbon-negative exposition. This is a noteworthy promise, considering Saudi Arabia's position as one of the leading producers of oil and per capita emitters of greenhouse gases. The Saudi plan includes a major public transit network and a futuristic space designed to represent the country's vision of pioneering a sustainable future for cities and their communities.
Criticism and Controversy
Despite the win, Riyadh's candidacy was not without controversy. Human rights NGOs had urged the BIE not to consider Riyadh due to the nation's human rights track record. The criticism was further fueled by incidents such as the 2018 murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Nevertheless, the Saudi bid received support from French President Emmanuel Macron, as indicated in a July statement from the Elysee Palace.
The Significance of the World Expo
The World Expo is a globally prestigious event held every five years, serving as a showcase for the host country and a laboratory for architects. It has a long history of bringing together nations to display technological innovations and cultural achievements. Iconic inventions like the light bulb, the Ferris wheel, and the Eiffel Tower were all introduced at past Expos. The next Expo will be held in Osaka, Japan, in 2025. The previous Expo in Dubai attracted 24 million visitors, underlining the immense significance and attraction of this event.