Singer Christina Aguilera (top R) and artists perform during the last day of the Expo 2020 Dubai on Thursday. Reuters / AP / AFP
Six months after the delayed opening of the $7 billion, purpose-built site, the Middle East business hub will close the shutters with performances from Christina Aguilera and DJ Tiesto, and fireworks that will go on past 3am local time.
Millions of people have flocked to Expo's 192 country pavilions in its final days, pushing visit numbers over 23 million — not far off the 25 million targeted, despite the ongoing pandemic — and making it tough to find a taxi elsewhere in the city.
In 30˚C heat, long queues have formed at the most popular attractions, including the falcon-themed United Arab Emirates pavilion and the Saudi Arabia building, a slanted slab that appears to hover in the air.
Artists perform during the last day of the Expo 2020 Dubai. AP
"It's been a huge experience, it's been really, really great," said Abbas Masud, 66, a retired banker originally from Pakistan.
"I've done about 172 countries. I wanted to do all 192 but I don't think I will be able to because it's the last day. I feel a bit sad."
Orchestra perform ahead of the closing ceremony of the Expo 2020 Dubai. Reuters
Dubai, the commercial heart of the United Arab Emirates, is famously home to the world's tallest building, the 830-metre (2,723 feet) Burj Khalifa.
Singer Christina Aguilera performs during the closing ceremony of Expo 2020. AFP
In February, it opened a Museum of the Future â€” in the shape of a silver ellipse decorated with Arabic calligraphy â€” that promotions insisted was "the most beautiful building on earth."
People visit the Switzerland Pavilion during the last day of the Expo 2020 Dubai. AP
Expo, which started with the 1851 Great Exhibition in London and has since showcased innovations such as the telephone and microwave, now moves to Osaka in Japan for the 2025 edition on a man-made island.
Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Novak Djokovic were among the sports stars to visit, along with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and the leaders of France, Brazil, Turkey and Morocco.
People visit the Saudi Arabia Pavilion during the last day of the Expo 2020 Dubai. AP
The site, with its canopied walkways and speakers playing soothing music, is now envisaged as a car-free "15-minute city," with all parts accessible by foot or bicycle within a quarter of an hour.
People enjoy their time during the last day of the Expo 2020 Dubai. AP
Eighty per cent of the structures will remain, including the self-powering 'Sustainability' Pavilion and a giant water feature that gives the impression of water flowing upwards.
District 2020, as the Expo site will be known, is attempting to attract high-tech and digital companies to become a centre for innovation.
Artists perform during the last day of the Expo 2020 Dubai. Reuters /AP
"It was never an investment to host an Expo," the show's director-general Reem Al Hashimy told AFP in September. "It was an investment to create a new city that is equal distance between Dubai and Abu Dhabi and really the city of the future. "That investment goes into a city to 2040, 2050 and beyond."
Artist Norah Jones performs during the closing ceremony of the Expo 2020 Dubai. Reuters
"Bringing the world to Dubai and showcasing Dubai to the world has been one of the successes of this event,â€ said Tarek Fadlallah, chief executive at Nomura Asset Management Middle East.
Mira Singh performed several remarkable performances at the opening ceremony of Expo 2020 Dubai, most notably the "golden rings " with Emirati star Habib Ghuloom, through which she represents hope and the future for the world.
During the event, Andre commended the vision of the UAE’s leadership, stating, "The UAE and Portugal share deep-rooted diplomatic ties and relations, and we aim to boost our economic and investment relations in the near future."
“The UAE and Dubai will continue, God willing, to be graceful and strong – and able, to Connect Minds and Create the Future with this exceptional government, and the leadership of my brother Mohamed Bin Zayed,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
The authorities said, “We strongly encourage everyone to rely solely on our official channels for accurate information to avoid unnecessary worry.”
Hundreds of people fled the upmarket Siam Paragon mall in the heart of the Thai capital as shots rang out around 4:30 pm (0930 GMT), witnesses told AFP.
Nepal's National Earthquake Monitoring & Research Center said the epicenter for both quakes, with initial magnitudes measuring at 5.3 followed by 6.3, was Bajhang district in northwest Nepal, close to the Indian border.
The Authority said via X platform, “In recent hours, attempts to steal people's WhatsApp accounts have drastically increased, whereby fraudsters send messages through WhatsApp from names of people known to the recipient asking him/her to click on a link to join a group