The show must go on

A glowing artificial tree, encircled by performers, rising up at the heart of Al Wasl Plaza during the opening ceremony of Expo 2020 Dubai, which was held on Thursday after a year's delay due to the pandemic.

Stars headlining the ceremony, which was also projected in public spaces around the United Arab Emirates, included Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, British pop singer Ellie Goulding, Chinese pianist Lang Lang and Saudi singer Mohammed Abdu.

More than 190 nations and territories, including Singapore, have national pavilions at the global fair.

With the theme "Connecting Minds, Creating the Future", it is the first international Expo in the event's 170-year history - which is held once every five years - to be held in the Middle East.

Host city Dubai is expecting to attract 25 million visits - both on-site and online - to this year's event, which is said to have cost about US$6.8 billion (S$9.24 billion).

Countries and companies from around the world also view the Expo - the first major global event open to visitors since the pandemic began - as a chance to give trade and investment a much-needed boost.

The Gulf state has relaxed most coronavirus restrictions, but the Expo requires face masks to be worn and for visitors over the age of 18 to be vaccinated against, or test negative for, Covid-19.

Before the pandemic, the consultancy EY forecast that the Expo would over the course of its six months contribute 1.5 per cent of the UAE's gross domestic product.

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