Shanghai Expo cost $60b, ten times original budget

Chinese government blows budget on six-month international festival

The UAE pavilion will be dismantled and brought back to the country. Photo: PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images
The UAE pavilion will be dismantled and brought back to the country. Photo: PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images

The six-month long Shanghai Expo closed on Sunday having broken world records for attendance and cost, with over 73 million visitors and a US$60 billion price tag.

The event, which featured pavilions from 246 countries including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman and Kuwait, was supposed to cost US$6 billion but is rumoured to have exceeded its budget by a staggering ten times. At the same time, it is believed that China netted in excess of RMB80 billion (US$11bn) during the show.

This monetary injection has been matched with a more tangible addition to Shanghai's economy; major additions to the city's infrastructure including newly constructed or renovated metro lines and pedestrian pathways to cater the event provide a solid basis for the growth and development of formerly run-down waterfront area.

A victim of its own success in many ways, reports suggest that despite impeccable organisation and clear pedestrian queuing networks, many of the more popular pavilions amassed waiting periods of up to six hours. Coupled with the intense heat of central Shanghai, this meant that many visitors were only able to visit a handful of the breathtaking structures in a single day.

The 5.28km2 exhibition was showered with praise during the closing ceremony from both domestic and international dignitaries. President of the International Exhibitions Bureau (BIE) Jean-Pierre Lafon referred to the Shanghai World Expo as an ‘astounding success'. He continued: "Shanghai shows that with a talented organisation, a willing to succeed and an excellent international communication campaign, a World Expo always brings out a true fascination."

This sentiment was echoed by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who explained: "Only when the ideas behind the accomplishments of civilisations are shared can they become treasures for all of humanity and be carried on forever."

Now begins the task of dismantling all bar five of the 246 vast structures, the chosen few being the China Pavilion, Culture Centre, Expo Centre, Theme Pavilions and the dramatic Expo Boulevard The Cultural Centre - an 18,000 seat multi-purpose stadium and entertainment complex - has now been renamed the Mercedes-Benz Arena.

The UAE pavilion, designed by architects Foster + Partners, will be brought back to the UAE but it is as yet unclear where in the country it will be reassembled.

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