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Monday, December 02, 2013

Dubai Expo 2020

(or, Why My Second Day of Parent-Teacher Conferences Was Cancelled)

This post is a continuation of the previous post about my first day of parent-teacher conferences.

I went out with a few colleagues for a post-conference dinner. We went for dinner at a local cafe overlooking the Dubai Creek and the downtown skyline in the distance. While we were out for dinner, the vote for the 2020 World Exhibition occurred. Here's a link to information on World Exhibitions if you would like to learn more!

The average person would have no idea the vote to hold the 2020 World Expo was occurring that day. For us Dubaians, however, we had been visually assaulted with media campaigns all over the city for the past few months (P.S. I don't actually know what the nomenclature is for people from Dubai - and I've been trying to find out!). There were large electric billboards counting down the days until the vote for the past few weeks. 

The vote was between Dubai, U.A.E.; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Yekaterinburg, Russia; and Izmir, Turkey. Both Brazil and Russia are hosting major world events next year (the FIFA World Cup and the Winter Olympics, respectively), and Turkey has had a fair amount of negative press lately. Most people thought Dubai was the clear choice, and I was in favour! I looked through a few promotional videos and I agreed with the main motto that Dubai proposed: "Connecting Minds, Creating the Future". You can watch a promotional video featuring a young boy named Ali at this link.

These banners were ALL over the city.

The now iconic logo!
Throughout dinner, I kept refreshing Twitter and updating my colleagues on the vote (I LOVE using Twitter for live events - there's nothing faster!). There were three rounds of voting, and the lowest country was eliminated each round. We easily won the first and second round of voting, and we were all on the edge of our seats as the third round of votes was completed. We had heard that fireworks were going to be shot off the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest free-standing building, if Dubai won the Expo bid. I clicked refresh one more time and I saw that Dubai had won. "We won!" I exclaimed to my table. "Dubai won the bid!" Our table starting cheering, clapping, and yelling "Dubai 2020!". The other restaurant-goers were confused, but a few started cheering once they realized why we were cheering. Then, suddenly, there was a burst of colour in the sky - fireworks were being shot off of the Burj Khalifa!  The whole restaurant began cheering, finally realizing was going on. The live musician started to play Queen's "We are the Champions" - how appropriate! I was most excited about the fireworks, although we were too far away for a good look.

Our view of the fireworks!

Thanks to the internet, I found some impressive pictures of the celebratory fireworks. The Burj Khalifa stayed illuminated in a blue light after the fireworks in honour of the Dubai Expo 2020 logo.  


There had been rumours swirling for the past week about what would happen if Dubai won the Expo 2020 bid. We might get another day off school. We might get an entire week! We already had a long weekend scheduled, since the U.A.E.'s national day is today, Tuesday, December 2nd. Students across Dubai had at least a 4 day weekend. Due to parent-teacher conferences, our students had a 5.5 day weekend and the teachers had a 4.5 day weekend. 

All ears were peeled on Wednesday night - would we have school tomorrow? Then Sheikh Mohammed made his big proclomation - "all educational institutions would be cancelled tomorrow to celebrate Dubai win of the Expo 2020 bid!" There was much rejoicing throughout the desert. However, one lingering question remained: would the teachers still have to go into school to meet with the parents? My colleagues and I were all on Facebook, commenting back and forth on each other's statuses, waiting for a text or email from our school. Finally, one teacher posted that she had heard directly from our principal that school was cancelled. Woo! The next hour was a blur of people updating and/or complaining about their communication from the school, or lack thereof. I was one of the people complaining - I never dd receive a text from the school, and our school didn't issue an email stating that school and interivews were cancelled until 11:51 pm (at least, that's the time I received it in my inbox, and I was consistently refreshing the page). School was cancelled - let the 5 day weekend commence!

In retrospect, I would have actually rather gone to school and finished up the interviews because I don't know how or when we are going to re-schedule. However, I took the opportunity to pack for Egypt and relax a little bit at home. November went by in such a blur, so taking a morning off to relax was well-deserved! I still have no idea when these interviews will be re-scheduled. 

Victory lights! Photo credit to Andy in Oman (click to visit the blog post!)

The Middle East still surprises me every day. The fact that the Sheikh can declare that all schools are closed with only 10 hours of notice staggers me. I highly doubt that I will be still be living in Dubai for the Expo 2020, but maybe the Expo will provide me with a reason to come back!

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