Riyadh won the right to host the Expo 2030 world fair, vote results showed yesterday, in another diplomatic victory for a Gulf country after the Qatar soccer World Cup last year.
South Korea’s Busan and Italy’s Rome were also in the running to host the world fair, a five-yearly event that attracts millions of visitors and billions of dollars in investment.
Riyadh won 119 votes, Busan 29 and Rome 17, results from 182 members of the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) showed. Saudi Arabia needed to garner two thirds of the votes to win from the first round.
Riyadh had enlisted soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, who plays for the Al-Nassr Saudi club, to convince members in a video projected before the vote. The Saudi capital has proposed to host the event between October 2030 and March 2031.
The win is the icing on the cake for Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman’s ambitious Vision 2030 programme, which aims to wean the country off its oil dependency.
“We had a fantastic team of ministers going around the world, engaging our counterparts in a very, very active way to understand what they expected, what they were looking for and what we should deliver in order to gain their trust,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud said.
The three delegations had been in horse-trading overdrive over the past few months, staging splashy lobbying events in the French capital.
Related Story