The Expo 2020 Dubai has been postponed by a year because of the coronavirus outbreak and will now be held from October 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022, the Paris-based organiser said Monday.

The six-month, multibillion-dollar global innovation fair, set to be the largest such event ever staged in the Arab world, was expected to attract some 24 million visitors starting October 20 this year.

The six-month, multibillion-dollar global innovation fair had been set to open on October 20 this year Photo: AFP / KARIM SAHIB

But a two-thirds majority of member states of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) have voted in favour of a delay requested by the United Arab Emirates, saying in a statement the postponement "allows all participants to safely navigate the impact of COVID-19."

"Expo 2020 Dubai is gearing up to help shape a post-pandemic world and create a better future for all," the bureau said.

The delay "also allows the World Expo to focus on a collective desire for new thinking to identify solutions to some of the greatest challenges of our time."

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