Expo’s charm attracts visitors – GulfToday

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Visitors take a break at the Expo 2020 Dubai. Kamal Kassim, Gulf Today

Gulf Today, Staff Reporter

Expo 2020 Dubai visitor numbers continue to rise, reaching an incredible 10,188,769 visits as of Jan.18, with visitors attracted by the first Global Goals Week to be held outside of New York and a star-studded K-pop concert – all underpinned by confidence in the event’s robust safety measures.

Expo 2020 Dubai’s Theme Weeks are proving popular thanks to a range of compelling forums, panel discussions and exciting on-site activations. Spearheading a major call to action, Global Goals Week is running from 15-22 January, in association with the United Nations, to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The goals recognise that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality and spur economic growth, while also tackling climate change and working to preserve oceans and forests. Global leaders, policy-makers, business leaders and key players from the World’s To-Do List campaign are connecting during the week to work towards achieving the targets, while visitors to Expo 2020 Dubai are also being encouraged to share their own personal to-do lists to drive positive change.

People of all ages can get involved as art, dance, quizzes and light festivals are taking place across the site to raise awareness and inspire everyone to become change-makers, as well as being invited to join the Expo 2020 Walk for Climate Action, with Michael Haddad, UNDP Regional Goodwill Ambassador for Climate Action, on 21 January.

Running enthusiasts will also get another opportunity to run around the iconic site. Supported by Dubai Sports Council, the Expo 2020 Dubai Run 2 will take place on Saturday, January 22, with participants getting to choose from three distances: 3km, 5km and 10km.

A stellar line-up of entertainment and international music artists continues to be a major draw, with thousands braving a damp Sunday to see the Republic of Korea’s incredible K-pop performance featuring PSY, Stray Kids, Sunmi, (G)I-dle, Golden Child and Forestella, live on the Jubilee Stage. Expo 2020 Dubai has already welcomed the likes of Alicia Keys, Nancy Ajram and Amr Diab, with the Black Eyed Peas set to be added to that roll call of A-listers when they perform at Al Wasl Plaza on 25 January.

Expo 2020 Dubai’s virtual visitation passed the 65 million mark, driven by the range of entertainment available via [email protected], such as popular performances by Korea’s top K-pop stars and Academy and Grammy Award Winner, A.R. Rahman, as well as extensive coverage of the Global Goals Week.

Health and safety remain a priority, with stringent rules in place across the site. All Expo visitors ages 18 and above must show either proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test result taken within the previous 72 hours, while on-site measures include mask-wearing – indoors and outdoors – for visitors, staff and participants, and PCR testing facilities for Country Pavilion staff, frontline workers, and entertainers. Expo 2020 Dubai runs until 31 March, inviting the world to join a global celebration that will help to shape a brighter, better future for everyone.

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the time needed to bridge the gender gap – which was already at 100 years – by another 36 years. World leaders agree that the need to course-correct and urgently achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment is essential not only for the sake of fulfilling a human right, but also for the advancement of humankind, Expo 2020 Dubai’s Global Goals Week heard today (17 January).

Contributing different perspectives on the state of gender equality and women’s empowerment, panellists and speakers at The Women’s World Majlis | Gender Equality, the Mother of All SDGs addressed everything from cross-generational approaches to the role of women in peace.

The event took place at the Women’s Pavilion as part of Global Goals Week, under Expo 2020 Dubai’s Programme for People and Planet, serving as a platform for world leaders and change-makers from around the globe to connect and work towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  

Rt Hon Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, said: “If we can’t achieve SDG 5 [Gender Equality], then we can’t achieve the SDGs. When women have less access to healthcare and education, and are more numerous among the poor and hungry, you just can’t make progress. Turn that around: if women are fully supported, then you are not only fulfilling their right to equality, but it’s also a huge contributor to prosperous societies, families and economies … We need to take to heart the framing UN Women had around its Beijing+25 event, bridging the energy, insights and perspectives of younger women with that of older women who have fought so many battles. That rich diversity and intersectionality will help us tackle issues together. We’ve got this far, but it’s not far enough, and we should be an unstoppable force.”

In an earlier panel discussion, speakers agreed that progress required better legislative framework, alongside a change in attitudes. Her Excellency Epsy Campbell Barr, First Vice President of Costa Rica, congratulated the Women’s Pavilion for its efforts and said: “We need a network of men working on SDG 5, because many leaders see it as a goal only for women, while other SDGs are for the wider world … The women’s movement has brought about many new and necessary laws, but we expect the laws alone to change reality … If we are involved in the field of women’s issues, then it is easier to get political commitment. We need to make major changes and use our budgets to secure equality, and that requires decisions to be made by a large group of people across different organisations.”

Her Excellency Sonja Hyland, Deputy Secretary General, Department of Foreign Affairs, Ireland, said: “Due to Ireland’s own conflict, women, peace and security is a huge part of Ireland’s foreign policy agenda as a member of the UN Security Council, and also its national agenda. We have worked on our peace process for four decades and are still implementing it, and we’ve learnt that if you don’t include women, you’re not going to have sustainable peace … We all must keep going back to the evidence whenever people question the focus on women. Whether it’s in conflict and security, business, or development with social and economic aims, we should flip the question and ask: what do you think you’re going to achieve without 50 per cent of the world’s population?”

Her Excellency Stella Ronner-Grubacic, Ambassador for Gender and Diversity, European External Action Service, said: “The building of infrastructure [policies on gender equality] has been a major achievement of these past few decades and has really changed things. However, now comes the hard part of implementing this infrastructure, which includes gender mainstreaming into our work. This needs to cease to be an afterthought or separate agenda item, but rather should become a reflex … and gender-responsive leadership is really important, and must be properly introduced internally and externally. We need to look at how to instill this in all leaders and managers, and hold them accountable for it. This also means being given the tools and training to live up to commitments.”

Running from 15-22 January, Expo 2020’s Global Goals Week, in association with the United Nations, aims to drive progress on the achievement of the Global Goals at a critical time of uncertainty in the midst of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

Global Goals Week is the seventh of 10 Theme Weeks under Expo 2020’s Programme for People and Planet, offering an exchange of inspiring new perspectives to address the greatest challenges and opportunities of our time.

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