LONDON // Inspectors who assessed Dubai's bid to stage Expo 2020 were impressed by the theme, the level of public support and the plans for financing the project.
A six-strong team from the Bureau International des Expositions, which oversees world expos, spent five days in Dubai gathering information about the bid and holding high-level talks.
Inquiry missions took place in all the candidate cities to determine whether their plans were viable and in line with the bureau's regulations. The winner will be chosen by delegates from its 167 member countries in Paris in November.
The inspectors prepared reports on each city which were distributed to the delegates. The inquiry missions and reports are key elements in the selection process.
The reports have not been made public, but The National has learnt that the inquiry mission team concluded that a Dubai expo had the potential to leave a valuable legacy for the global community.
This would benefit not only the UAE and participating countries but civil society generally, as well as future expos.
The inspectors said the Dubai expo theme - Connecting Minds, Creating the Future - was of critical importance as it reflected the need for global discussions about key priorities.
The theme and the general aims of the exhibition were said to be well defined, precise and in line with the expectations and preoccupations of contemporary society.
Students, academics and others who the inquiry team met expressed full support for a Dubai expo and were eager to contribute to the project.
The project had full government backing and there was great enthusiasm for it among the citizens of Dubai.
The inspectors described the master plan for the expo site in Jebel Ali as well conceived and attractive, and said the financial plans were viable. Projected revenues and expenses were in line with those of previous expos and were credible.
The team told the delegates that although Dubai planned to build more hotels by 2020 the accommodation already available in the city would exceed the needs of expo participants and visitors.
Dubai is one of four candidate cities still in the running to host Expo 2020. The others are Ekaterinburg in Russia, Izmir in Turkey and Sao Paulo in Brazil.
The inspectors who visited Izmir praised elements of the bid but said a further study should be carried out on the planned on-site transport system to ensure the safety of visitors.
The team that went to Sao Paolo identified the city's transport infrastructure as one of the project's most challenging elements, but noted the authorities' commitment to solving this issue. The report on Ekaterinburg was largely positive.
A fifth city, Ayutthaya in Thailand, was dropped from the selection process in June after the inspectors found that it had not met the bureau's requirements. Failure to secure government support led to its exclusion.
The UAE has been conducting a global lobbying exercise to gather backing for its bid, which will intensify this month at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
In May the UK became the first country to announce officially that it was supporting the Dubai bid. The British foreign secretary William Hague said: "We assess that the Dubai bid is exceptionally strong: focused on global connectivity and accessibility, underpinned by its geographical location and its position as a global logistics and transport hub.
"All these would allow exhibitors to reach a large and varied international audience.
"We are also convinced that holding Expo 2020 at a time of great change in the region would send a positive signal to the world that this is a region of dynamism, innovation and vast human potential."
France was also expected to issue an official all-out declaration of support, but instead the president, Francois Hollande, simply "praised the advantages" of Dubai's application.
The next key stage for the UAE bid will take place in October with a visit by some of the delegates who will select the winner.
They will attend a symposium at which they will learn more about the Dubai expo theme and sub-themes - mobility, sustainability and opportunity.
On November 27,the delegates will cast their votes and Dubai and the other cities will learn which of them has triumphed.
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