Shanghai to fling open doors to World Expo

Fri Apr 30, 2010 5:24pm EDT
 
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By Ben Blanchard and Farah Master

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Shanghai opens the World Expo to the public on Saturday, a multi-billion dollar event showcasing China's booming economy and resurgent national pride, as well as the latest green technology from 189 countries.

Organizers kicked off the six-month extravaganza on Friday evening with a spectacular fireworks display, the largest LED screen ever constructed and dancing water fountains along the banks of the city's murky Huangpu River.

"I am confident that, with concerted efforts, people around the world will witness a successful, splendid and unforgettable World Expo," President Hu Jintao told visiting foreign leaders on Friday evening.

China says it has spent $4.2 billion -- double what it spent at the 2008 Beijing Olympics -- to host the world's largest exhibition. It is the most expensive Expo to date and local media have reported the true cost is closer to $58 billion.

The Expo site, on both sides of the Huangpu, is twice the size of Monaco and 20 times bigger than the last World Expo held in Spain's Zaragoza in 2008.

Cosmopolitan Shanghai expects 70 million visitors will attend the Expo -- an average of nearly 400,000 per day -- though just 5 percent will be foreigners.

The government will be hoping to avoid the sometimes chaotic scenes witnessed during rehearsals for the Expo, when visitors complained of enormous lines, poor organization and lack of food.

"The only worry is how to serve them because we may probably not have enough staff to take care of everybody," Omar Mapuri, head of the Tanzania pavilion, told Reuters.   Continued...

 
<p>Fireworks light up the Shanghai skyline during the opening ceremony for the Shanghai World Expo April 30, 2010. REUTERS/Eric Feferberg/Pool</p>