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Sat 7 Mar 2020 12:59 AM

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Expo 2020 Dubai plans 'on track' despite coronavirus threat

Expo organisers say well-being of everyone visiting and working at Expo 2020 Dubai is of 'paramount importance'

Expo 2020 Dubai plans 'on track' despite coronavirus threat

Expo 2020 Dubai, which is set to open in late October, remains “on track” in the face of the current coronavirus outbreak, according to the organisers.

“We are consulting very closely with local authorities and the International Bureau of Expositions in Paris as the situation evolves,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

“All planning and preparations for Expo 2020 Dubai remain on track.”

The expo is set to attract millions of visitors and showcase Dubai as a global destination. The government has said it expects a boost to growth spurred by stimulus programs and projects related to the international exhibition fair, which is being held for the first time in the region.

The economy needs a lift. The Middle East’s commercial hub, the UAE has gone through tough years recently as oil revenue dropped, with property prices down about a third since 2014 and its vital tourism industry struggling to grow. In 2018 the economy expanded only 1.9 percent, its weakest pace in almost a decade.

The coronavirus is wreaking havoc on plans for major gatherings, particularly across Asia, with top government meetings, a Formula One race, and the Olympics all in limbo.

“We recognise the difficulty that the world is facing together, today,” the expo spokesperson is cited as saying in today’s statement. “These are indeed unprecedented times. The health and well-being of everyone visiting and working at Expo 2020 Dubai is of paramount importance to us.”

“The number of cases in the UAE is currently low but the UAE authorities remain vigilant by continuously monitoring the situation and taking robust precautionary, preventative measures necessary to contain the rapid spread of the virus.”

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