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Dubai opens $7B Expo, including Israeli pavilion, with extravagant show of glitz

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AFP) — Dubai opened its extravagant Expo 2020 on Thursday with a flashy ceremony boasting fireworks and lights displays, as it attempts to woo the world despite the pandemic.

The domed Al Wasl Plaza, the centerpiece of the vast Expo site, was lit by spectacular projections as Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum declared the $7 billion event open.

“The entire world gathers in the UAE as we inaugurate together, with the blessing of Allah, Expo 2020 Dubai,” Sheikh Hamdan said.

Chinese pianist Lang Lang was among the star performers, and blind Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli closed the show in front of Dubai’s royal rulers.

The ceremony kicks off a six-month world fair attended by more than 190 countries, despite the European parliament’s call for member states to boycott over the United Arab Emirates’ human rights record.

Organizers are hoping for 25 million visits to Expo 2020, the first in the Middle East, which is set to be the most attended event since the pandemic. This year’s Tokyo Olympics went ahead largely without fans.

However, travel restrictions remain in place around the globe during a spectacle that was conceived pre-COVID-19 and is starting a year late.

Organizers did not respond to a request for details on ticket sales, but discounts are already being offered and Dubai government employees have........

© The Times of Israel

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