AHMAD ALSADHAN WRITES — The World Expo, held every five years for a duration of six months, is an event that gathers nations into one venue as a way of presenting solutions to current global challenges. Expo 2020, which was postponed by the pandemic, is currently being hosted by Dubai, UAE. Expo 2025 will be hosted by Japan.
Five countries are now competing to host World Expo 2030: Russia (in Moscow), the Republic of Korea (in Busan), Italy (in Rome), Ukraine (in Odessa) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (in Riyadh). The winner will be elected in 2023 by the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) Member States gathered in a General Assembly.
Which countries are the leading candidates? For one, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom has restructured and set many goals to strengthen its economy within the next couple of years. One of these goals is represented by Saudi Vision 2030, drawn up by His Royal Highness the Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud, showing that the country is aiming to generate 50% of its energy from renewables by 2030. This past year alone, Saudi Arabia announced many projects and investments to promote tourism, and to enhance important areas of its economy. Expo 2030 would put the country’s name on the map, and prove to the world that Saudi Arabia is a strong global competitor, whether in tourism, technology, or renewable energy.
Another strong competitor to host Expo 2030 is the Republic of Korea. Korea has experience with these Expos which it hosted back in 1993 and 2012. Korea is a leader in healthcare, and automotive as well as other technologies. It could utilize the expo to showcase: artificial intelligence, 6G wireless communication technology, and new smart technologies used in airports and ports. In addition, Korea has great overall infrastructure and a public transportation system that will help manage the high volume of visitors.
The tradition of World Expos dates back to 1851. The first one (The Great Exhibition) was held in London, UK. Since then, the Expos organized by their host countries have been quite successful, with each one following the theme: “A universal challenge of our time.”
So, will it be the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or the Republic of Korea? Both are strong competitors. Both would benefit from the expo as a forum for promoting business deals and deepening relationships with other countries. But commitment to a project like this is challenging. Expo 2030 may seem far away, yet plans on the part of all country candidates are already taking place. May the best country win.