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KSA: In a major diplomatic coup, Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, has won the bid to host the Expo 2030 World Fair, outshining competitors South Korea’s Busan and Italy’s Rome. This victory, following Qatar’s successful hosting of the 2029 football World Cup, underscores the Gulf states’ ascendancy in securing international events.

Riyadh’s win, with an impressive 119 votes, marks another milestone for the Gulf region on the global stage, attracting attention and billions of dollars in investment.

However, the triumph was not without controversy, as Italy’s representatives expressed their discontent with the results. Giampiero Massolo, head of the Italian Expo bid, stated, “This huge result for Saudi was unexpected in those proportions. It is no longer about the merits but about transactions. Yesterday it was a soccer championship. Tomorrow it will be the Olympics.”

The criticism introduces tension, suggesting complexities in the selection process. The Expo 2030 victory aligns with Saudi Arabia’s broader goals, involving plans for the 2034 World Cup and a potential Olympics bid. Riyadh strategically enlisted football star Cristiano Ronaldo from the local Al Nassr club for a persuasive video presentation before the vote.

According to Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, “We had a fantastic team of ministers going around the world, engaging our counterparts in a very, very active way to understand what they expected, what they were looking for, and what we should deliver in order to gain their trust.”

This diplomatic success is a crowning achievement for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 program, aimed at diversifying the country’s economy away from oil dependency.

As Saudi Arabia readies for Expo 2030, the controversy over the bidding process adds intrigue to what promises to be a transformative regional event. The nation’s diplomatic successes and strategic maneuvers persist in shaping its international trajectory.