In this Oct. 8, 2019, photo, Associated Press journalists visit the Sustainability Pavilion at the under construction site of the Expo 2020 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Its Sustainability Pavilion, which recalls the towers of New York’s 1964 world’s fair, will be covered in solar panels and surrounded by similarly paneled “energy trees” to make it a zero-energy structure. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

Dubai bets billions that Expo 2020 won't be a desert mirage

October 17, 2019 - 3:21 am

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Dubai is betting billions of dollars that its Expo 2020 will draw 25 million visitors, encourage business and spur development of the city.

However, this world's fair comes as Dubai's real estate market shows signs of faltering amid global economic woes.

Fears of conflict across the Persian Gulf because of tensions between Iran and the U.S. are also clouding organizers' sunny projections.

The site of Expo 2020 rises out of what were once rolling sand dunes stretching toward the horizon. It's a feverish construction site by tempo and temperature that has tens of thousands of workers building what looks like a new city in the desert.

But the planning for the event, now a year away, highlights the contradictions of Dubai and the wider United Arab Emirates.