Saudi Arabia: the capital Riyadh chosen for World Expo 2030

The Saudi capital Riyadh was chosen on Tuesday to host the prestigious 2030 World Expo, beating South Korea's Busan and Italy's Rome in the first round of voting by the BIE (Bureau International des Expositions).

The festivities in Riyadh to celebrate the selection of the Saudi capital to host the 2030 World Expo. © AHMED YOSRI/REUTERS

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It took only one round of voting to consecrate Riyadh as the host city of Expo 2030. The Saudi capital won 119 votes, compared to 29 for Busan and 17 for Rome, well within two-thirds of the required 165 votes, according to BIE results. When the results were announced, there were shouts of joy or resounding within the large Saudi delegation.


We are immensely proud of this result Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said. "It is an expression of the international community's confidence in what we have to offer, and we are committed to meeting expectations," he said. He also welcomed the fact that the organisation of the Expo coincides with Vision 2030, a reform programme aimed at reducing the kingdom's dependence on oil.

A major victory from which Saudi Arabia expects economic repercussions. As part of its modernization program, the country is seeking to develop the tourism sector, which is currently in its infancy. And usually, an Expo host city welcomes tens of millions of visitors during the six months of the event. Much more than a football World Cup that lasts only a month: there were only more than a million of them to travel to Qatar in 2022.

Read alsoSaudi Arabia: the kingdom announces that it will organize an annual e-sports World Cup

Far from international isolation

But it is also a diplomatic success for the country. Like its Gulf neighbours, Saudi Arabia is looking to increase the organisation of major events. In 2029, it will host the Asian Winter Games. In 2030, the World's Fair. And most likely the football World Cup in 2034: the country is indeed the only candidate to host this competition. And he could also enter the race for the 2036 Olympics.

Fifteen human rights NGOs had called on the BIE last Tuesday "not to vote" for Riyadh because of its "appalling" human rights record. But Saudi Arabia's international isolation after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is a distant memory.

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