Desert emirate hoping boost business as 'East-meets-West' trade hub

After eight years of planning and billions of dollars in spending, the Middle East’s first ever World Fair opened on Friday in Dubai, with hopes the months-long extravaganza draws both visitors and global attention to this desert-turned-dreamscape, the Associated Press reports.

Named Expo 2020, the event was postponed by a year due to the outbreak of the coronavirus last year. While that could have an impact on how many people flock to the United Arab Emirates, the six-month-long exhibition offers Dubai a momentous opportunity to showcase its unique East-meets-West appeal as a place where all are welcome for business.

Not long ago, the site of the 1,080 acre (438 hectare) expo was barren desert. Less than a decade later, it is a buzzing futuristic landscape with robots, a new metro station, multi-million dollar pavilions and so-called districts with names like “sustainability” and “opportunity” — all built, like much of the Gulf, by low-paid migrant workers.

Organizers say 192 nations are represented at the expo. The U.S. pavilion will showcase a replica of the Space X Falcon 9 rocket. Italy’s pavilion houses a 3-D replica of Michelangelo’s biblical hero, David, that is 17 feet high (5.2 meters). Other attractions include an African food hall, a royal Egyptian mummy, concerts and performances from around the world, and the option to dine on a $500 three-course meal with glow-in-the-dark cuisine.

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