Paris, 30 November 2023(TDI): Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, defeated South Korean port cities Busan and Rome and won the privilege of hosting the 2030 World Expo.
In a secret meeting held on Tuesday in Issy-les-Moulineaux, outside Paris, the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) announced that Riyadh had been chosen with a majority of 119 votes out of 165. On the other hand, Busan obtained 29 votes, while Rome earned 17.
This historic choice places Riyadh as the center of attention for the prestigious international gathering, which is anticipated to draw millions of attendees.
The secret ballot was conducted using electronic voting, and Riyadh was officially confirmed as Osaka’s 2025 alternate host.
Candidates presented final Expo progress reports to member states and government-appointed delegates in an 11th-hour attempt to win votes at the Biometric Identification Enabled BIE event in Paris.
Expression of International Trust
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, welcomed the vote as an expression of trust from the international community and alignment with their vision for 2030, which he believes is a shared pathway to prosperity for all countries.
In addition, he stated, “We are committed to living up to expectations and delivering an extraordinary experience.”
With an emphasis on advancing technologies to maintain natural ecosystems, Saudi plans include a significant public transportation network as well as a futuristic area with public parks, e-game facilities, performance stages, and sports stadiums.
Prince Faisal stated that, “the legacy of Riyadh Expo 2030 will go beyond the buildings,” pledging “fantastic” architectural design. “We are about a journey, a journey that brings the world together… So that will be the legacy of working together for a brighter, more prosperous future.”
Moreover, he expressed his gratitude to 130 countries for their support in the Kingdom’s bid and for their invaluable contributions in providing insight, feedback, and support throughout the campaign.
His statements underlined the kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s “unwavering commitment to collaborate with all nations to deliver an Expo built by the world for the world and to find new pathways for collective action and collaboration.”
According to the foreign minister’s statement, “a pool of 100 eligible countries will receive facilities packages of $348 million from the Kingdom.”
Reportedly, Riyadh, the first Arab capital to host a world event, aims to improve public health and save energy by increasing green coverage from 1.5 percent to 9.1%. With 70% of Saudi citizens under 30 and a skilled labor force, the city is driven to rank among the world’s 100 finest living cities.
At the press briefing prior to the Expo 2030 announcement, Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of the Diriyah Group, declared, “Diriyah will be very famous by 2030, the city of Riyadh will be unrecognizable.”
He went on to say, “What Singapore did in 60 years, what the Emiratis did just in tourism in 30 years, the crown prince wants to accomplish that in 15 years.”
Princess Haifa bint Mohammed Al-Saud, Deputy Minister of Tourism for Saudi Arabia, reported that choosing Saudi Arabia and Riyadh signifies “choosing the world.”
Riyadh’s Transformation and Infrastructure Development
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s Expo 2030 will see a major expansion of its infrastructure, including the construction of 70,000 new hotel rooms and a metro system connecting Expo City to King Salman Airport, one of the busiest airports in the world.
In addition, by 2025, Riyadh Air, the recently established airline, would significantly improve the city’s availability by providing flights to 100 countries.
President Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea expressed gratitude to Saudi Arabia and also expressed regret for not being able to bring the Expo to his country.
In a broadcast statement in Seoul on Wednesday, Yoon said, “I really congratulate our key partner Saudi Arabia for successfully achieving the Riyadh Expo that it’s hoped for.”
He stated, “As president who oversaw and was responsible for our campaign to host the Expo, I’d like to say again that I’m really sorry for disappointing our people, including Busan citizens.”