Expo 2020 Dubai kicks off with star-studded Opening Ceremony

Expo 2020 Dubai kicks off with star-studded Opening Ceremony
A night view of the Terra-Sustainability Pavilion at the Dubai Expo 2020 site. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 02 October 2021

Expo 2020 Dubai kicks off with star-studded Opening Ceremony

Expo 2020 Dubai kicks off with star-studded Opening Ceremony
  • The Opening Ceremony will be streamed live to more than 430 locations across the UAE as well as around the globe

DUBAI: After a year’s delay, Dubai’s Expo 2020 finally opens its doors tonight with a star-studded ceremony held before an audience of 3,000 people.

The opening ceremony will feature top acts including world-famous tenor Andrea Bocelli; Grammy-nominated, Golden-Globe-winning actress, singer and songwriter Andra Day; platinum-selling British singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding; international mega-star pianist Lang Lang; and four-time Grammy winner Angelique Kidjo.

The Opening Ceremony will be streamed live to more than 430 locations across the UAE as well as around the globe.

The Expo 2020 Dubai was due to open at the same time last year but was postponed because of the global Covid pandemic.

“There have been many challenges for us along the way building the ceremony but we are very lucky to have the most amazing venue and I’m also positive to deliver our ceremony.” Kate Randall the Vice President of Expo 2020 Ceremonies, told Arab News.

And the celebrations won’t stop after tonight’s 90-minute show, Friday will see three spectacular fireworks displays in Dubai, marking the first full day of the Expo.

In a statement, the organizers said Friday’s show would be “a spectacular visual celebration commemorating the journey from winning the bid in 2013 to opening the first World Expo in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region and the largest global event held since the start of the pandemic.”

The colossal undertaking will give participating nations the chance to put forward ideas on how to create a better, more sustainable future.

At the first 1889 fair, France unveiled its Eiffel Tower. 12 years later, the X-ray machine made its debut in Buffalo, New York.

This time around, organizers will use a newly built futuristic city to address the world’s most pressing challenges and opportunities.

Covering an area of 4.38 sqkm – equal to more than 600 football pitches – the site will be home to a state-of-the-art pavilions designed by brand-name architects.

The UAE’s pavilion looks like a falcon at rest while Saudi Arabia has emerged as the largest of all participating nations outside the UAE, holding three Guinness world records: the largest LED mirror screen display, the largest interactive floor, and the longest water exhibit.

Over six months, Expo organizers expect some 25 million visits to the site hosting more than 200 participants – including 192 countries.

“One of the most interesting things for me in this journey was me not being from this part of the world originally.. but learning about many stories that were born here in the region and the Arab World," Randall said

With organizers putting the final touches, the stage is now set for participants to showcase their achievements in architecture, food, agriculture, industry, the arts, and intellectual pursuits.

Transport links are completed, with Dubai Metro Route 2020 able to carry 44,000 passengers per hour to and from the Expo site directly.

Meanwhile, Alif – the Mobility Pavilion features the world’s largest passenger lift, can hold more than 160 persons.

In all, Expo has around 200 dining spots, offering more than 50 global cuisines to visitors from across the world that will wander across the interactive theatre.

Hamdan Bin Mohamad, the Crown Prince of Dubai, took to Twitter to express his excitement, posting a video revealing a bird’s eye view of the multi-billion dollar project with the caption “are you ready.”


Messi returns, Ramos scores and PSG cruise

Messi returns, Ramos scores and PSG cruise
Updated 9 min 11 sec ago

Messi returns, Ramos scores and PSG cruise

Messi returns, Ramos scores and PSG cruise
  • Marco Verratti put PSG ahead in the final minute of a sluggish first half, drilling home his first Ligue 1 goal since May 2017

PARIS: Lionel Messi returned, another marquee signing Sergio Ramos scored as Paris Saint-Germain cruised to a 4-0 victory over Reims on Sunday to restore their Ligue 1 lead to 11 points.
“We had a good game, we took three points,” said PSG manager Mauricio Pochettino.
Earlier, Nice briefly cut the gap with a 2-0 win at Metz. But three of the teams just behind them lost.
Messi, returning from Covid, started on the bench while Kylian Mbappe returned to the starting lineup after a groin strain while Ramos made only his second league start of the season.
Marco Verratti put PSG ahead in the final minute of a sluggish first half, drilling home his first Ligue 1 goal since May 2017.
“It’s good that a player who doesn’t score often, does,” said Pochettino.
PSG upped the tempo after the break.
Ramos, who arrived from Real in the summer, scored his first goal for the club. The central defender reacted quickest to a loose ball from a PSG corner. After his first shot was parried by Predrag Rajkovic, the Spaniard reacted fastest again to slam home the rebound.
“I am happy to have played 90 minutes and I am personally happy because it is my first goal with PSG, I hope there will be many more,” said Ramos.
“It’s been three weeks since I started playing normally with the group,” he said. “We have the cup, we have the league, we have the Champions League, this is the best time to arrive in shape.”
Pochettino was happy with the goal.
“It’s good that he scored like Marco. He had a good game,” said the manager.
That goal brought Ramos level with Messi on one league goal this season, it also acted as the cue for Pochettino to send Messi on.
In the 67th minute, Messi set up Verratti for a shot that deflected off two defenders and into the top corner.
Danilo Pereira added a fourth as PSG matched their biggest league win of the season.
Earlier, Khephren Thuram’s goal set up a precious 2-0 away win for Nice as they saw off strugglers Metz to move back up to second place.
Khephren, the 20-year-old son of World Cup winner Lilian, opened the scoring in the 58th minute while a late spot-kick from Amine Gouiri completed the victory with a cheeky Panenka.
The three points lift Nice above their bitter south coast rivals Marseille, who are two points behind in third with a game in hand.
“We are still too far behind (PSG) to think about top spot. I’m more concerned by what’s coming up behind us,” said Nice coach Christophe Galtier.
“It’s about racking up the points and that can be tough when the opponent is fighting relegation.”
Strasbourg lost 4-3 at Bordeaux where Hwang Ui-Jo hit a hat-trick to lift the home team out of the bottom three.
Bordeaux, who had not scored in three league and cup games this year while conceding 10, hit three in the first 38 minutes but were made to sweat for their victory as their defense then leaked three goals.
“Hwang had a perfect game, he bailed us out on several occasions. He’s had some difficulties in the last few games, so I’m very happy that he’s back,” said Bordeaux’s under-threat coach Vladimir Petkovic.
“I am sorry that we let in three goals,” said Petkovic. “We had a very good first half but then the fear of winning the game took over.”
Rennes took an 18th-minute lead at another struggler Clermont with a goal by Baptiste Santamaria, but missed several other chances and paid in the second half.
Former Rennes player Lucas Da Cunha levelled in the 59th minute and Jordan Tell struck in the 70th minute.
Montpellier beat Monaco 3-2 to climb sixth.
Elye Wahi gave the home team a 13th-minute lead and Stephy Mavididi scored twice, the winner coming in stoppage time.
Wissam Ben Yedder and Vanderson scored for Monaco, who drop to seventh.


Amanda Staveley and Newcastle United squad land in Jeddah for warm weather training camp

Newcastle United's English minority owner Amanda Staveley (2nd L) and her husband Mehrdad Ghodoussi (C) at St James' Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England on December 27, 2021. (AFP)
Newcastle United's English minority owner Amanda Staveley (2nd L) and her husband Mehrdad Ghodoussi (C) at St James' Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England on December 27, 2021. (AFP)
Updated 1 min 38 sec ago

Amanda Staveley and Newcastle United squad land in Jeddah for warm weather training camp

Newcastle United's English minority owner Amanda Staveley (2nd L) and her husband Mehrdad Ghodoussi (C) at St James' Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England on December 27, 2021. (AFP)
  • Eddie Howe’s team do not have another Premier League game until they host Everton at St James’ Park on February 8

NEWCASTLE: Newcastle United have landed in Jeddah for a warm weather training camp a day after registering only their second Premier League win of the season.

Last week Arab News revealed that the Magpies will fly to Saudi Arabia following Saturday's match at Elland Road, and Eddie Howe’s team would have landed in Jeddah buoyed by a 1-0 secured courtesy of a Jonjo Shelvey freekick goal.

Some fans were on hand to welcome the players and Amanda Staveley, who along with PIF and the Reuben brothers, completed the takeover of the club in October.

The squad’s schedule has been kept under wraps so far, but the team is expected to take on Saudi Professional League (SPL) leaders Al-Ittihad in a training match behind closed doors on Friday. The team will return to the UK on Saturday, Jan. 29.

Newcastle do not have another Premier League game until they host Everton at St James’ Park on Feb. 8, with next weekend free due to the fact they were dumped out of the FA Cup by lower-league Cambridge United earlier this month.

Prior to departure, Howe described the trip to Saudi Arabia as “vitally important” for his team.

“Going away will encourage unity,” he said. “It will be a work training camp — we will be training, working and playing a game. I want people to know we are going to be very active.”


Palestinian minister says holds first meet with Israel’s Lapid

Palestinian minister says holds first meet with Israel’s Lapid
Updated 38 min 43 sec ago

Palestinian minister says holds first meet with Israel’s Lapid

Palestinian minister says holds first meet with Israel’s Lapid
  • The Israeli foreign ministry declined to comment to AFP but did not deny that the meeting took place

JERUSALEM: Israel’s top diplomat held an official meeting Sunday evening with a Palestinian minister, the latter said, the first such encounter between the Jewish state’s current foreign minister and a Palestinian official.
“I met this evening with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and we discussed several political and bilateral issues,” Palestinian civil affairs minister Hussein Al-Sheikh said on Twitter.
“I have highlighted the need for a political horizon between the two parties based on international legitimacy,” he added, without saying where the encounter took place.
The Israeli foreign ministry declined to comment to AFP but did not deny that the meeting took place.
In late December, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz hosted talks with Mahmud Abbas on the Palestinian president’s first visit to Israel for an official meeting since 2010.
At that time, Israel’s defense ministry announced “confidence-building measures” with the Palestinian Authority.
These included a $32 million (100 million shekel) advance payment to the PA in taxes collected on its behalf by Israel, and the granting of 600 extra permits allowing Palestinian businessmen to cross into Israel.
It also announced the regularization of 6,000 more Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank, which has been under Israeli control since the Six-Day War of 1967.
Sheikh had welcomed Abbas’ meeting with Gantz, saying at the time that it had been a “serious and courageous effort” toward a “political” solution.
After Israel’s coalition government led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was formed in June, Gantz visited the PA’s headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah in August for talks with Abbas, the first official meeting at such a level for several years.
Right-winger Bennett leads a motley coalition of parties ranging from the Jewish nationalist right to the center and left, and includes an Israeli Arab party for the first time.
After those talks, hawkish Bennett, the former head of a settler lobby group who opposes Palestinian statehood, underlined that there was no peace process under way with the Palestinians, “and there won’t be one.”


Saudi Arabia calls on GCC to speed up establishment of customs union, common market

Saudi Arabia calls on GCC to speed up establishment of customs union, common market
Updated 48 min 10 sec ago

Saudi Arabia calls on GCC to speed up establishment of customs union, common market

Saudi Arabia calls on GCC to speed up establishment of customs union, common market
  • Saudi finance minister stressed the importance of overcoming obstacles by achieving a qualitative leap in cooperation

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan called on Gulf countries to complete the establishment of a customs union, and implement the Gulf common market, to achieve economic unity by 2025.
He was speaking during the 115th extraordinary meeting of the Financial and Economic Cooperation Committee in Riyadh, with Gulf Cooperation Council member state counterparts also in attendance.
The meeting was chaired by Al-Jadaan with the participation of GCC Secretary-General Nayef Al-Hajraf, and a number of officials and specialists.
Al-Jadaan said the Kingdom was keen to redouble efforts to implement King Salman’s vision of promoting joint Gulf action, a statement released by the Saudi Press Agency said.
He stressed the importance of overcoming obstacles by achieving a qualitative leap in cooperation and a consensus among the GCC states at all levels, praising the role of the General Secretariat in expanding ties in line with global developments and long-term strategies of GCC members.
Al-Jadaan added that vigorous steps were being taken to achieve coordination, integration and interdependence among GCC member states in all fields.
During the meeting, the attending ministers reviewed progress on strengthening financial and economic cooperation between GCC states.
They were briefed on the economic decisions issued by the Supreme Council in its 42nd session and a plan to complete the remaining steps for establishing the customs union before the end of 2024, as well as recommendations made by the Customs Union Authority and the Gulf Common Market Committee.
The committee meeting is held periodically to discuss matters of economic progress and developments in legislation and economic measures adopted by GCC members to achieve long-term common strategic interests.


UK must urge global shift in Afghanistan aid, experts warn

UK must urge global shift in Afghanistan aid, experts warn
Updated 24 January 2022

UK must urge global shift in Afghanistan aid, experts warn

UK must urge global shift in Afghanistan aid, experts warn
  • The group of experts laid out five practical outcomes that the UK should encourage the international community to work toward
  • They called on the UK government to convene an urgent international conference

LONDON: Experts in Britain are calling on the UK government to press the international community to broaden the definition of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan to “avert an irreversible humanitarian disaster.”
In a letter sent to The Guardian newspaper, a group of experts, including former defense, national security and foreign policy chiefs, laid out five “practical outcomes” that the UK should encourage the international community to work toward.
The outcomes include meeting the UN’s appeal for humanitarian funding, preserving state delivery systems, resuming technical support to the country’s central bank to prevent economic collapse, reinstating the Afghan reconstruction trust fund and releasing some of the frozen Afghan foreign reserves so that salaries of essential workers can be paid and key social services maintained.
“But these measures are not enough to avert an irreversible humanitarian disaster,” the letter said, adding: “We believe the UK government needs to act in accordance with two fundamental principles: Afghan lives should not be used for political leverage; and economic and state collapse in Afghanistan is not in our own national interest.”
It called on the government to convene an urgent international conference, in partnership with the UN and key international partners, but to distinguish aid into two types: “Money that can be withheld to try to leverage political concessions from the Taliban, and money to enable government institutions to deliver basic human services and to keep the economy from collapsing.”
Afghanistan’s dire humanitarian situation has worsened following the Taliban takeover and withdrawal of the last remaining US troops. As a result, aid was suspended and many countries and international organizations froze the country’s assets.
The World Food Program said that it urgently needs $220 million per month this year as it ramps up operations to provide food and cash assistance to the more than 23 million Afghans facing severe hunger.
“The freezing of state assets and the cut in international funding for health and education risk tipping the country into a famine not seen before in Afghanistan’s 40 years of conflict. Economic collapse will cause death and suffering, and increase terrorism and migration,” the letter said.
Its authors include Valerie Amos, former UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs; Mark Lowcock, former UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs; and Mark Sedwill, former national security adviser, cabinet secretary and ambassador to Kabul, among others.
The letter added that the proposals do not seek to give any succour to the Taliban.
“Humanitarian agencies are ready and able to pay medical staff, teachers and other civil servants delivering public services. But they need the money to do so — far more than has yet been delivered. And they need a clear political mandate from donors, not least the US,” the signatories said.
The letter comes after Norway hosted a Taliban delegation for three days of talks in Oslo with Western officials and Afghan civil society representatives to discuss the deteriorating humanitarian situation.
“We are extremely concerned about the grave situation in Afghanistan, where millions of people are facing a full-blown humanitarian disaster. In order to be able to help the civilian population in Afghanistan, it is essential that both the international community and Afghans from various parts of society engage in dialogue with the Taliban,” said Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt.
She added that though the meetings did not represent a legitimate recognition of the Taliban, it was necessary to communicate with the country’s authorities to avoid worsening the humanitarian disaster.