Visitor numbers at Expo 2020 in Dubai will soar during the world fair’s final week, which is expected to be its busiest since opening six months ago.
Gates will shut at 3am on Friday after the closing ceremony late on Thursday, which officials have promised will be mesmerising. The final tally of the number of visits will be released on April 1.
The number of visits inched close to the 21 million mark on Tuesday, with 1.8 million visits registered in the previous seven days, as tourists and residents line up to be part of the largest global gathering since the start of the pandemic.
“We are expecting high attendance, it’s our last weekend with people getting their last stamps from the country pavilions,” said Sconaid McGeachin, senior vice president of communications on Thursday.
“It’s about just enjoying the last week of the Expo and connecting with all the countries.”
Numbers are expected to be boosted significantly on Thursday evening when Oscar-winning composer AR Rahman takes the stage for a four-hour concert at the Jubilee stage.
This will be followed by a Friday night performance by Jason Derulo, the American R&B singer-songwriter known for viral tracks and platinum singles.
Fans can get autographs signed by Olympic gold medallist Petra Vlhova at the Slovakia pavilion at 5pm on Friday and hear about her journey to take the first spot in Alpine skiing at the recent Beijing Winter Games.
The worlds fair will double up as the city’s main sporting centre this weekend.
Runners will be off to an early start at 6.30am on Saturday for 3km, 5km or 10km routes in the last Expo Run event.
Filipino music fans will have a touch of Saturday night fever with headline performances this weekend. Rachelle Ann Go can be seen at 9pm on the Jubilee stage – the actress and singer had a starring role in the hit West End production Hamilton.
Rico Blanco, another popular singer-songwriter from the Philippines, will then take the stage at midnight.
On Sunday morning, cycling enthusiasts of all ages and fitness levels can ride around the site with Andy Schleck, a former Tour de France winner, starting at 6.30am.
Music shows will continue through the week with Bollywood’s Sunidhi Chauhan performing on Tuesday at 8.30pm at the Jubilee stage.
The Expo has also been about inspiring people to make changes in their lives that will positively affect the environment.
Theme weeks at Expo have given visitors a real understanding of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals.
Subjects including climate change, inclusion, food and agriculture and water have drawn more than 14,000 speakers, including world leaders and activists, who delivered ideas to protect precious resources.
More than 65,000 people have taken part in an immensely popular Expo challenge that began in January.
They pledged to take action to save the planet in 17 spaces or majlis created by Expo across the site.
People collected leaflets that provide them with everyday examples on each of the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals that cover health, education, safeguarding oceans and forests.
Visitors vowed to take steps to save energy at home, walk, cycle or take public transport, stop throwing away food, shop responsibly and recycle clothes and electronics.
Expo organisers said it was crucial to break down the 17 targets so the young and old could better understand how to be involved in a worldwide movement.
Nadia Verjee, chief of staff of the Expo People and Planet programme, listed it as one of the “greatest successes”.
Green goals were no longer targets of policymakers and governments but conscious choices that people could relate to.
She said Expo helped to take “the sustainable development goals out of the corridors of New York where they typically live and explain them in everyday language”.
“We have been able to dissect what these goals mean, make it simple and get people engaged,” Ms Verjee said.
“It’s about every single one of us being part of that journey.”
Expo Dubai organisers plan to continue the engagement in the UAE and overseas in a legacy project when the world fair ends on March 31.
“This is what we are planning in legacy because it seems like people care and that they have really understood the themes of sustainability, mobility and opportunity and how relevant it is to their lives,” Ms Verjee said.