The Great Exhibition, held in London in 1851, inaugurated World Expos as the hallmark events of a world aspiring to strengthen its connections, celebrate its cultural diversity and marvel at its technological wonders.
Today, World Expos remain a key meeting point for the global community to share innovations and make progress on issues of international importance such as the global economy, sustainable development and improved quality of life for the world’s population.
Every five years, World Expos attract millions of visitors who explore and discover pavilions, exhibitions and cultural events staged by hundreds of participants including nations, international organisations and businesses.
Each World Expo is a catalyst for economic, cultural and social transformation and generates important legacies for the host city and nation. For instance, Shanghai 2010 World Expo helped transform a heavily industrial city-centre area into a thriving cultural and commercial district while also bringing its theme “Better City, Better Life” to the attention of 73 million people.
The next World Expo takes place in Milan, Italy, in 2015. The focus: “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”.
As a Registered Exposition it may be a maximum of six months in length and adhere to a wide universal theme that applies to all humanity. Past themes of Universal Expositions include "Man and His World" Montreal Expo 67, and "Discovery" Seville Expo 92.
Bids and bidding
Once a city lodged a bid with the BIE other cities had six months to respond, with the earliest allowed time to lodge a bid being 2011, and the latest 2014. With an early 2011 bid lodgement to the BIE, Izmir of Turkey and Ayutthaya of Thailand initiated the six-month window for other cities to bid. This window closed on 2 November 2011, at which point 5 cities had lodged their bids with the BIE, with Dubai making a last minute entry. The BIE voted on the winning host city on 27 November 2013.
Five cities originally bid for the slot for a world's fair in 2020, with four remaining: Dubai, UAE; Ekaterinburg, Russia; Izmir, Turkey; or São Paulo, Brazil. Expo 2020 will represent a first as a Middle Eastern destination will be hosting the event for the first time.