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Expo 2020 records 5.66 mln visits, boosted by UAE’s 50th National Day celebrations

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Boosted by the UAE’s Golden Jubilee festivities, as well as a raft of spectacular sport, music and cultural performances, Expo 2020 Dubai has seen a staggering 5,663,960 visits up to December 5, since it first opened on October 1.
Besides, during October and November, a total of 5,383 government leaders, including ministers, presidents, prime ministers, and heads of state, have graced the Expo site to speak at official events or celebrate their nation’s Expo National Day, with Expo hosting a total of 10,461 events in just the first two months.

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During his visit last week, President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron, congratulated Expo 2020 Dubai for “organizing this exhibition and making it a success”.

Proving that one day isn’t enough to experience everything Expo 2020 has to offer, six out of 10 visitors (57 per cent) now hold an Expo Season Pass, with the number of repeat visitors in the first two months reaching 1.2 million.

Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister for International Cooperation and Director General of Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “We are delighted with the figures, and that so many people chose to celebrate such a momentous occasion, the UAE’s 50th National Day, with us here at Expo 2020 Dubai. Two months in, these numbers are a testament to the hard work of everyone involved in Expo, from the hosting of spectacular events that make people want to visit again and again, to the bringing together of global changemakers on a powerful platform for action and collaboration, and – crucially – to our robust COVID-19 measures, which allow us to accommodate such large numbers in a safe, reassuring manner.”

More than a quarter (28 per cent) of November visitors came from outside the UAE, with the top international visitor countries including India, France, Germany, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the UK.

The Expo School Programme has attracted nearly 250,000 pupils from private and public schools across the UAE who have participated in 10,000 dedicated school journeys encompassing The Legacy of the UAE; World of Opportunities; The Universe in Motion; and The Sustainable Planet, while more talented youngsters have delighted visitors from the stage, as part of Expo’s popular Young Stars and Rising Stars entertainment.

Major crowd-pullers

November saw some major crowd-pullers, including the end of Riverdance’s popular run; a spectacular performance from the Accademia Teatro alla Scala; award-winning Pakistani musician Javed Bashir; Egyptian singer Mohamed Hamaki; a KITE (K-Pop in the Emirates) concert and the opportunity to take part in a family fun run with sprint king Usain Bolt.

Other highlights included the Golden Jubilee’s ‘Journey of the 50th’ – a stirring show in Al Wasl dome that skilfully melded the tenacity of the past with the UAE’s visionary present and pioneering future – as well as the ‘The Boy and the Horse,’ a 20-minute theatrical production that honoured His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Expo’s Program for People and Planet in November continued to attract changemakers from around the world, with two of Expo 2020’s 10 Theme Weeks – Urban & Rural Development Week and Tolerance & Inclusivity Week – as well as a slate of festivities and activities to mark World Children’s Day, International Day of Persons with Disabilities and International Volunteer Day pulling in the crowds.

Christmas festivities, more world-class performances

Looking forward, numbers are expected to rise further as Expo’s new Dh 95 Festive Pass, on sale until the end of December, gives access to Christmas festivities and more world-class performances, such as Grammy Award-winner Alicia Keys’ show at Al Wasl Plaza on 10 December, Academy Award-winning composer and musician A.R. Rahman on the 22 December and Broadway superstar Lea Salonga on December 25.

In keeping with Expo 2020’s sustainability aims, an impressive amount of people have travelled to the site using RTA transport. During October and November, around 455,000 rides were made to and from the site using taxis, more than 600,000 trips were made on the free Expo Rider bus service, and 2.2 million users entered and exited Expo via the Dubai Metro.

Expo 2020’s virtual visitation rose to an incredible 25 million, driven by the uptake of Live@Expo, which enables visitors to take a bespoke live virtual tour through the site. Virtualexpodubai.com was also honoured by the UK’s Favourite Website Awards (FWA) with the ‘Most Favourite Website Award’ for November 2021.

As the largest major global event to be held since the start of the pandemic, Expo 2020 Dubai continues to maintain robust COVID-19 measures, ensuring a safe and exceptional event for all attending. These include the mandatory vaccinations of all Expo and International Participant staff, volunteers, contractors and service providers, while visitors ages 18 and above must present proof of any vaccination or a negative PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours. Face masks are mandatory both indoor and outdoor, and Expo maintains on site sanitisation stations.

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RAK arts festival celebrates 10th anniversary in February launch

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The Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival (RAKFAF) will celebrate its 10th edition this year, under the theme ‘The Journey,’ a celebration of the annual event’s first decade and the first 50 years of the United Arab Emirates.

The annual arts festival – established under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah – will open to the public on Friday 4 February and run until Thursday, 31 March 2022.

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Artists will share their interpretations of what this theme means to them through the lens of ancestry, migration, national identity, and personal growth.

The historic Ras Al Khaimah pearling village of Al Jazirah Al Hamra will once again provide the central backdrop for the Festival, having been its home for the past three years and standing as a critical bridge between Ras Al Khaimah’s cultural heritage and contemporary art scene.

Satellite exhibition sites will also offer unique settings for different events including the public viewing deck of the UAE’s highest peak Jebel Jais and the Open Park on Al Marjan Island.

The free-to-attend outdoor art, photography, and sculpture exhibition will present a diverse collection of artworks from over 150 artists hailing from more than 45 countries. There will also be a vibrant program of film screenings, workshops, guided tours, and other events held across the Festival’s various locations.

The Festival’s Director, Suqrat bin Bisher, noted that despite the global pandemic hitting the event last year, it remained popular.

“After the success of last year’s Festival which played a truly important role in bringing the community together in spite of a global pandemic, we are excited to reach this 10th year in which we celebrate togetherness, humanity and Ras Al Khaimah’s role in the world of art and culture,” Bisher said.

“Our stunning natural landscape offers the perfect backdrop for open-air events from film to exhibitions in addition to helping us broaden the festival’s reach to those who may not otherwise have discovered us.”

Speaking ahead of the Festival’s opening next month, His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, suggested that the 10th year of RAKRAF is a momentous occasion and a cause for great celebration, coinciding as it does with the UAE’s 51st year.

“Arts and culture are vital components in humanity’s ongoing pursuit of greater togetherness and tolerance, as these fields promote the virtues of dialogue, collaboration and understanding, which remain a constant means of uniting humanity. The festival provides a platform for artists from all over the world, as well as our local talent and community members, to come together in a unique location to converse, to forge bonds and to learn, all through the medium of art and culture,” he said.

All international standard COVID-19 safety guidelines are in place for RAKFAF.

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Al Arabiya becomes first regional news channel to exceed 10 mln YouTube subscribers

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Al Arabiya has become the first news channel in the Arab region to reach over 10 million YouTube subscribers.

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Videos posted on Al Arabiya’s YouTube channel have gained over 5 billion views, a number no other competing news channel in the Arab region has reached.
The Al Arabiya team has published 110,000 videos and the hours watched on the Arabic YouTube channel exceeded the 200-million-hour mark.
The numbers also reveal more about the keenness of Arab nationals to follow and interact with Al Arabiya and its published content. Al Arabiya videos on YouTube have received more than 52 million likes, and more than 20 million comments.
Al Arabiya is not only leading the Arab region channels on YouTube, but also on other social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and others.
Mamdouh al-Muhaini, General Manager of Al-Arabiya and Al-Hadath channels, confirmed that Al Arabiya always aims to lead, whether as a television station or through its various platforms on social media.
Al-Muhaini pointed out that these figures confirm the trust of the viewers and followers of Al Arabiya, “and this trust is a major responsibility that falls on the shoulders of Al Arabiya and its employees.”
He also stressed that “Al Arabiya has not and will not stop improving to keep up with anything new in the media,” explaining that “the content published on the Al Arabiya platforms always takes into account the age group and the geographical location of the reach of each media platform in different countries.”

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Qatari Al-Attiyah wins Saudi Arabia’s Dakar Rally, Sunderland takes motorbike race

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Nasser Al-Attiyah clinched his fourth Dakar Rally title on Friday in Jeddah after leading from the first stage on New Year’s Day.

Al-Attiyah could afford to let nearest rival Sebastien Loeb, the former nine-time rally world champion, beat him by more than five minutes on the 12th and last sandy stage from Bisha and still cruise to overall victory by more than 27 minutes. The Qatari previously won in 2011, 2015 and 2019.

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British rider Sam Sunderland won his second Dakar motorbike title after beating stage winner Pablo Quintanilla of Chile by 3 1/2 minutes, the closest margin since 1994.

But the rally’s end was overshadowed by the road crash death of a support staff member from the PH Sport team on a liaison route.

Quentin Lavalée, aged 20 of France, was killed when the car he was driving collided with a local truck, police told Dakar Rally organizers. A passenger with Lavalée, Maxime Frere of Belgium, was injured and taken to a Jeddah hospital. Lavalee was a chief mechanic.

Al-Attiyah was runner-up in the last two Dakars in Saudi Arabia, and focused on rallying in the past year without sharing time with sport shooting or powerboating. Plagued by punctures on the Dakar, he fine-tuned a Toyota with bigger tires and suspension and came to Saudi having won seven rallies.

His biggest rivals struck trouble early. Defending champion Stephane Peterhansel lost a rear wheel and three-time champ Carlos Sainz made a bad navigation error. Loeb’s drive shaft broke and by the rest day a week ago, Al-Attiyah had a 50-minute lead.

Loeb desperately chipped at the gap in search of his first Dakar title but Al-Attiyah and co-driver Matthieu Baumel expertly avoided trouble.

“It was an incredible Dakar for us. The whole race went without a hitch,” Al-Attiyah said. “We opened up a gap on the first day and have since managed our lead. We’re really happy, and I reckon we’ll start thinking of the next Dakar in a week or 10 days.”

Al-Attiyah’s fourth Dakar tied him for second most with Ari Vatanen. Peterhansel leads with eight.

Loeb’s second place matched his 2017 result in Argentina.

“We never stopped attacking, so we have no regrets,” Loeb said. “Nasser has tons of experience and a co-driver who only makes mistakes once in a blue moon, so he controlled the race to perfection. I still had a blast, though, because every time we gained time on him, it felt great.”

Saudi driver Yazeed Al Rajhi was third for his first Dakar podium at his eighth attempt.

Sunderland’s preparation wasn’t ideal. Riding for his new team GasGas, he had a bad crash at the Rally Kazakhstan and retired ill from the Morocco Rally. Yet, he led throughout the first week of the Dakar and when he was challenged in the second week, timed his winning run to perfection.

“I had a pretty rough season, but when you win the Dakar, it’s all worth it,” Sunderland said.

Quintanilla was runner-up for the second time in three Dakars.

“It was physically and mentally exhausting. But I’m really pleased with my performance,” Quintanilla said.

Austrian rider Matthias Walkner, the 2018 champion and twice runner-up, was nearly seven minutes back in third overall which, he said, “almost feels like a victory.”

Sunderland’s brother-in-law, Adrien van Beveren of France, was fourth, and Joan Barreda of Spain fifth while carrying a shoulder injury.

Mason Klein, the 20-year-old American on debut, was ninth, 13 seconds ahead of two-time winner Toby Price of Australia.

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