Paris, AP—Fireworks erupted in Dubai after the tiny Gulf emirate won the right to host the 2020 World Expo, becoming the first Middle Eastern city to organize the event in its more than 150-year history.
Dubai bested competing bids from Izmir, Turkey, Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Yekaterinburg, Russia, after three rounds of voting by delegates of the 168-nation Bureau International des Expositions in Paris.
In line with its reputation of over-the-top glitz and glamor, Dubai lit the world’s tallest tower with glimmering lights. The skies around the Burj Khalifa, which towers at 2,717 feet, erupted with fireworks.
The official Twitter account for Dubai’s world expo bid wrote after the announcement that the win “will help unlock the vast potential of this region” and that it is the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East.
“The UAE is proud to have been selected to host #Expo2020 in #Dubai under the theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’,” said Dubai authorities on their official expo bid account.
Dubai authorities expect Expo 2020 will generate $23 billion between 2015 and 2021, and estimate it will cost $8.4 billion to organize.
The announcement comes just days before the December 2 UAE national day, which celebrates the young nation’s 42 years of unity and independence from the British Protectorate.
While the World’s Fair no longer holds the popularity of other global events like the Olympics or World Cup, it remains a chance for millions from around the world to discuss and see the business of the future.
Delegates voted behind closed doors over three rounds to choose the winner. Sao Paulo and Izmir were eliminated in the first two rounds, leaving Yekaterinburg and Dubai to face off in the decisive third round.
Last year Yeosu, South Korea, hosted the 2012 world expo. The next one is scheduled to take place in Milan in 2015.