Sunday, June 23, 2024

World’s Fair update

Expo 2025 Osaka races ahead; Serbia and Saudi Arabia prepare to host

by Jim Ogul

Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai opens April 13, 2025 for its six-month run. The event will be held on Yumeshima Island at the western end of Osaka City. The attendance forecast is 28 million visits. The theme is “Designing Future Society for Our Lives,” with the sub-themes “Saving Lives, Empowering Lives, and Connecting Lives.” Some 160 countries and regions and nine international organizations had confirmed participation in the expo as reported by Japan’s Foreign Ministry earlier this year.

Type A building challenges

The Expo has faced its share of unique challenges. Recently the organizer shifted its target date for the completion of “Type A” pavilions (those built by overseas participants) from July to October because of delays in construction work due to high material and labor costs.

Concept illustration of Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai. Credit: BIE/Japan Association for the 2025 World Exposition

In view of the construction challenges, instead of building “Type A” pavilions at least three participating nations opted to rent space from the Expo organizers instead, while another 36 are moving ahead with building plans and have selected contractors.

Japan plans to spend up to ¥235 billion ($1.6 billion) for constructing the expo venue, with the cost to be split among the central government, the Osaka Prefectural Government and the Osaka Municipal Government, and the business community. In comparison, the UAE spent $7 billion for Expo 2020 Dubai.

The U.S. steps up for Osaka

The U.S. has a federal appropriation for its pavilion at Osaka 2025 – at last, after far too many years without. The last time funding for a U.S. Pavilion was covered by Congress was at Expo 1988 in Brisbane, Australia. During the 36-year federal funding gap that followed, the U.S. did exhibit at a number of expos. The pavilions were paid for by raising private sector donations, an approach that was plagued with problems.

Concept for USA Pavilion for the Osaka 2025 Worlds Fair. Image: Trahan Architects

After going out for bids, in July 2023 the U.S. Department of State announced the selection of ES Global to design and construct the USA Pavilion at Expo 2025 Osaka. ES Global is a global firm that specializes in the design, specification, management, assembly, and dismantling of temporary structures and installations for cultural projects. They are partnering with Trahan Architects and BRC Imagination Arts to design and construct the USA Pavilion. The project will also receive support from project management group Alchemy International.

The USA Pavilion theme “Imagine” encourages visitors to visualize themselves in the United States as the country supports advances in sustainability, space exploration, education, and entrepreneurship.

Expo 2027 Belgrade

Belgrade, Serbia, will host a Specialized Expo for three months in 2027. Following its election to host status during the 172nd General Assembly of the Bureau International des Exhibitions (BIE) in June 2023, Serbia now enters a phase that will see the formalization of its Expo project. Organized under the theme, “Play for Humanity: Sport and Music for All,” Expo 2027 Belgrade is hoping to welcome 120 countries and 10 international organizations between May 15 and August 15, 2027.

Aerial concept for Expo 2027 Belgrade. Image: BIE/Serbia Ministry of Finance

As part of the process, recently the Ambassador of Serbia to France, H.E. Ana Hrustanović, presented Serbia’s Recognition Dossier to BIE Secretary General, Dimitri S. Kerkentzes. According to the BIE, the Recognition Dossier must provide a detailed plan for the implementation of the Expo, including operational dates, legislative and financial measures, the Expo site Master Plan, the conditions for international participation and legacy plans.

Concept for Expo 2027 Belgrade. Credit: BIE/Serbia Ministry of Finance

The Dossier will be reviewed by the BIE Secretariat and Member States in order to prepare for the formal recognition of Expo 2027 Belgrade by the General Assembly. Following the recognition, Serbia can begin Expo preparations in earnest and will be able to invite international participants via diplomatic channels.

Expo 2030 Riyadh

Ten years on from the success of Expo 2020 Dubai, which attained its attendance goals of more than 24 million, we can look forward to another major World Expo in the Middle East: Riyadh 2030.

Aerial concept for Expo 2030 Riyadh. Image: BIE/Riyadh Expo 2030

On November 28, 2023, during the 173rd General Assembly of the BIE, the BIE Member States elected Saudi Arabia as host country of World Expo 2030. Saudi Arabia intends to host its World Expo in Riyadh, October 1, 2030-March 31, 2031. Its theme is “The Era of Change: Together for a Foresighted Tomorrow.”

Concept for Expo 2030 Riyadh. Image: BIE/Riyadh Expo 2030

Following the election, Saudi Arabia continues to work with the BIE to formalize the Expo project by submitting a Registration Dossier that will need to be approved by the BIE General Assembly. •

Jim Ogul
Jim Ogul
Since retiring from the US State Department in 2011 after a 30+ year career in world expos, James Ogul ([email protected]) has remained on the scene in an advisory and consulting role. He writes regularly for InPark Magazine about world’s fairs. See his free online book, Tales From the Expo.

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