Dubai Expo Kicks Off Despite Raging Pandemic, But Local Authorities Aren't Afraid of Virus

© REUTERS / RULA ROUHANAPeople walk at the site of Dubai Expo 2020 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates January 16, 2021
People walk at the site of Dubai Expo 2020 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates January 16, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.10.2021
Aside from boasting one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, Dubai has also implemented a number of restrictive measures to host millions of visitors without putting their health at risk. They include the creation of sanitation stations as well as deep cleaning and specialised medical facilities.
In 2020, the Dubai Expo, a mega exhibition that aims to showcase technology and innovation, was cancelled due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Today, with COVID-19 still raging, Dubai has opened its doors to visitors from all over the world.

Ready for the Pandemic

Some 192 countries are taking part in the exhibition that will last until the end of March. It is expected to draw 25 million visits and Maha Al Gargawi, senior vice president of political affairs at the expo, says her country - which boasts one of the highest vaccination rates in the world - is ready for the event amid the ongoing pandemic.

"We are taking COVID-19 very seriously", she wrote in response to a number of questions sent by Sputnik.

"The health, safety, and well-being of everyone visiting and working at Expo 2020 Dubai continues to be a priority every single day of the event, and [we] follow the latest guidance from the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention, Dubai Health Authority (DHA), and the World Health Organisation", she added.
Within the framework of those measures, everyone involved at the Dubai Expo is supposed to be vaccinated, whereas visitors are expected to produce proof of them being healthy or a negative PCR test conducted within 72 hours prior to their arrival at the event.
Полет на реактивном ранце-крыле Jet  Man над Дубаем  - Sputnik International, 1920, 23.09.2021
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Authorities have also made sure to install sanitation stations across the entire site. They've additionally imposed the wearing of face masks, called on visitors to adhere to social distancing, and increased the number of deep cleaning and specialised medical facilities, including provisions for rapid COVID testing.

"It is the first mega-event [that is being] staged since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, [and] it will be an opportunity for the world to convene again in a spirit of hope", the official said.

Platform for Coexistence?

This will be the first exhibition of this magnitude held in the Middle East, Africa, or South Asia. Organisers are saying it will be a "celebration of human spirit" and will present a stage for "nations to come together" and share their experiences, regardless of their political beliefs and backgrounds.
As part of that concept, Dubai will be hosting a big Israeli delegation that will be showcasing innovations in technology, agriculture, medicine, military items, and others.
This comes just a year after the historic Abraham Accords that normalised relations between the two nations, and Al Gargawi says the presence of an Israeli pavillion is an indication of the event being apolitical and a platform for true collaboration.

"Expo 2020 Dubai will be the most inclusive and international in the history of world expos, and we look forward to welcoming every single one of our 200-plus participants – including 192 countries, multilateral organisations, educational establishments, and businesses – for a global celebration of human brilliance and achievement".

But not everyone appears to share this optimism. The event has already drawn criticism from the European Union over the UAE's alleged human rights issues.
The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) has also called on the public, governments, and companies to refrain from attending the event that it says aims to "white wash and distract attention" from Israel and the UAE's human rights violations.
So far, organisers have ignored these accusations. For them, the Dubai Expo is a celebration of innovative ideas and coexistence. It coincides with the UAE's 50th anniversary and it seems the authorities have no intention of letting background noise spoil that festive feeling.
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