The Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh won the right to host the Expo 2030 world fair, vote results showed, in another diplomatic victory for a Gulf country after last year’s soccer World Cup in Qatar.
South Korea’s port city of Busan and Rome in Italy were also in the running to host the five-yearly event that attracts millions of visitors and billions of dollars in investment.
Riyadh won 119 votes, Busan 29 and Rome 17, results from 182 members of the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) showed. Saudi Arabia needed two-thirds of the votes to win from the first round.
The Italian contestants were scathing in their disappointment.
“This huge result for Saudi was unexpected in those proportions,” Giampiero Massolo, head of the Italian Expo bid, told reporters. “It is no longer about the merits, but about transactions.
“Yesterday it was a soccer championship, tomorrow it will be the Olympics,” he added.
However, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol congratulated Saudi Arabia for winning the bid, calling the Gulf state “a key partner”, and adding that his nation would share the resources and experience gained to help Riyadh hold a successful event.