Expo 2020 has waved farewell after a six-month run with a closing ceremony in Dubai.
The event was hosted in the breath-taking Al Wasl Plaza, offering a moment of pride for the United Arab Emirates and a spectacular visual feast for viewers from around the world.
The showcase was designed to be a celebration of everything the event has achieved – and of all those who made it happen.
With a team led by creative visionary Franco Dragone, the closing ceremony sought to reflect how Expo 2020 Dubai has touched the lives of all who have visited, while heightening the myriad of memories made on site.
A world-class production, pioneering technology, immersive laser projectors, emotive music and no less than three firework displays all worked together to heighten the spectacle.
Sheikh Nahayan, Dubai minister of tolerance and coexistence, said: “We were honoured to have welcomed millions of visitors from all around the world, as the UAE has always been a place where all people meet.
“Throughout Expo 2020 Dubai’s six months, we had the honour of meeting many delegations, officials and visitors.
“We celebrated with national days here – at the heart of Expo 2020 Dubai – on our beloved United Arab Emirates’ land; the land of tolerance, coexistence and peace.
“Among our most important guests were the generations of the future, particularly hundreds of thousands of our visitors, who were hosted by the Expo School Programme.
“They are the agents of positive change that we want for a more sustainable, safer, better world for all.”
He added: “We have learned a lot together, and we have proved that humans are of one essence, and one fate.
“We have come together at an extremely difficult time, the likes of which the world has not seen, embodying the strength of human will, at its finest, and made Expo 2020 Dubai a symbol of hope.”
A children’s choir kicked off proceedings, with Ishy Bilady, the UAE national anthem, before the handing over the flag to the next expo hosts: Wakamiya Kenji, minister for the World Expo 2025, and Yoshimura Hirofumi, governor of Osaka.
As guests and performers gathered in the garden of Al Wasl one last time, celebrated cellist Yo-Yo Ma gave an emotional performance of Gabriel’s Oboe followed by Going Home, before Al Wasl Dome was transformed into a galaxy of stars.
With singers and the Firdaus Orchestra performing the Expo 2020 Dubai theme song, This is our Time, an undeniable highlight of the show was the underwater scene with dancers waving huge swirling blue sheets which were then opened – in perfectly synchronised fashion – to reveal the 192 flags of the participating countries, creating a circle of flags representing the world and everyone standing together.
Mira Singh, the young star of the Expo 2020 Dubai opening ceremony, was again the heartbeat of the show, responsible for returning the ring with its magical powers to where it originated, to be ready for the next generation.
Her journey included flashbacks of Expo 2020 Dubai’s highlights, including fleeting sequences of Al Adiyat: The Story of a Boy and His Horse, the Flying Piano, yoga at Surreal, the Expo Explorer’s final journey, dancing with Opti the robot and an astronaut flying into space from Journey of the 50.
As the huge golden ring descended from the top of Al Wasl Dome, Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter, Norah Jones, appeared at a grand white piano to sing As Tears Go By.
With another round of spellbinding fireworks, pop icon Christina Aguilera rounded off the show in spectacular fashion, belting out a stunning rendition of the Greatest Showman’s A Million Dreams.
Given the theme of the show, it was no surprise that the ‘VIP guests’ were made up of public and private school children from across the UAE.