Acorn High H1 - 1920 x 116
Acorn High H1 - 1920 x 116
Acorn High H1 - 1920 x 116
Acorn P H1 - 700 x 180

Rome loses Expo 2030 bid to Riyadh

Saudi Arabia capital wins Expo 2030 bid by landslide.

Italy was left disappointed on Tuesday after Rome lost out to Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh in its bid to host Expo 2030, following a secret ballot held by the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE).

Riyadh was elected the winner in the first round, obtaining 119 out of 165 votes from delegates of member states of the Paris-based intergovernmental organisation.

South Korea's capital Busan came in second place with 29 votes while Rome came last with just 17 votes.

In a video appeal earlier in the day, Italian premier Giorgia Meloni said that voting for Rome "means also creating a platform for global youth, to study together and initiate new enterprises together", concluding: "Scegli Roma, let's bring history to the future!"

Rome mayor Roberto Gualtieri travelled to Paris in a final bid to obtain last-minute votes on Tuesday, along with English actress, UNICEF ambassador and human rights activist Trudy Styler, Rome actress Sabrina Impacciatore and Italian Paralympic fencing champion Bebe Vio.On Monday Gualtieri told reporters in Rome: "Tomorrow there will be surprises at Italy's presentation at Expo, but I can't say anything else."

Under the banner of 'People and Territories: Regeneration, Inclusion and Innovation', Rome's candidacy placed a strong emphasis on human rights, and its proposed Expo site was in Tor Vergata in the south-eastern outskirts.

Underlining the focus on sustainability, nature and zero emissions, Gualtieri pledged that it would be a "green" project and "not an Expo of cement".

Last month Italy's president Sergio Mattarella added his voice to Rome's Expo 2030 bid, hailing the Italian capital as a "promoter of civilization, hospitality and dialogue with the numerous cultures that have enriched its identity over millennia".

Mattarella added that Rome and its people have been "capable of welcoming, of producing innovation, of continuously regenerating the urban fabric of what historians define as the Eternal City."

The Italian capital also enjoyed the support of Hollywood actor and Gladiator star Russell Crowe in its bid to host Expo 2030.

However it proved no match for Saudi Arabia's lavish efforts to clinch the global event, under the title 'The Era of Change: Together for a foresighted Tomorrow'.

Hosting Expo 2030 is seen as the icing on the cake for Saudi Arabia, as part of its Vision 2030 roadmap for "economic diversification, global engagement, and enhanced quality of life."

Last month Rome football club AS Roma announced a two-year sponsorship from Riyadh Season, a state-funded entertainment and sports festival in Saudi Arabia, sparking a political backlash in the Italian capital.

Asked about the timing of the move, less than two months before the Expo vote, Gualtieri told reporters that it proved "the Saudis really do fear us", adding: "We are David, they are Goliath, as demonstrated by their immense spending capacity."

If it had won, the Italian capital would have had the possibility of combining the event with the 2025 Jubilee, which it is already preparing to host, with organisers estimating that the Rome Expo would have generated €50 billion.

In Italy the last Expo took place in 2015 in Milan, an event that attracted more than 22 million visitors. The previous Expos in Italy were held in 1906 in Milan and in 1911 in Turin.

Rome has never hosted an Expo. The city had been due to host the large-scale Esposizione Universale Roma in the 1942 World Fair and for this reason the EUR district was built. However the outbreak of world war two led to the cancellation of the event.

The BIE defines World Expos as being dedicated "to finding solutions to pressing challenges of our time by offering a journey inside a universal theme through engaging and immersive activities."

In addition to welcoming millions of visitors, hosting a World Expo allows countries "to build extraordinary pavilions and transform the host city for years to come", according to the BIE.

Cover image Expo-2030 Credit CRA Carlo Ratti Associati
Smiling H2 - 724x450
Smiling H3 - 1920x190
Smiling H3 - 1920x190
Smiling H3 - 1920x190
Chase 320 x 480
Marymount - International School Rome