DUBAI - Visitors to Expo 2020 are enthusiastic about what the new year will bring. Speaking on Friday ahead of the start of 2022, both tourists and Dubai residents were upbeat.

Reem Al Muhairi from Ras Al Khimah in the UAE said: "I came to Expo before with my friends and I enjoyed that visit, so I encouraged my family to come today, especially since it is New Year's Eve and the rainy weather is wonderful for us."

As far as 2022 is concerned, she said: "This year has gone by so fast and I haven't done much. But I hope that next year will be the end of COVID-19. On a personal level, I am preparing to study for a master's degree and start a new job."

Sayad Abd Al Rahaim, an Agricultural engineer from Sudan who came especially from Abu Dhabi to visit Expo 2020 on the advice of his friends, said: "The pandemic was all over the news and it almost ended, so it was a quiet year. I hope the pandemic will end forever. I plan to visit Sudan and arrange to visit Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj and Umrah."

Kaushi Karanam, an Indian resident in the UAE, was happy to bring his mother, Mani, to the Expo site. He said: "We’re looking forward to a more sustainable future [in] 2022, utilising technology more. Of course, we’re also looking forward to more joy. Also, Expo 2020 Dubai provides a platform to show us how the future is going to look."

His mother, Mani Karanam, added: "I’m a retired engineer so I’m very interested in technology and technological developments and I want to see what happens in 2022." Turkish tourist, Aktu? Birinci, who visited Expo 2020 for the first time, said: "I’m looking forward to everything, but I want to see the technological innovations on display and we want to visit Mobility and Sustainability. We only have four or five hours today so we just want to get a feel for it, and we’ll probably come back before it finishes."

As for the year that has been and the year to come, he said: "2021 was okay – we were in Spain where COVID regulations were quite relaxed. It wasn’t easy but it wasn’t hard. In 2022, my partner will go back to her atelier and I will open a Turkish grill restaurant in Spain." Romanian tourist, Daniel En?chescu, was particularly optimistic about the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said: "2021 was a year full of sacrifices but it’s important not to stop and to keep going and to not be afraid of this pandemic. It will finish and everything will be okay. In 2022, I’m looking forward to the end of the pandemic and for life to continue as it was before." Travel featured strongly on the 2022 wish list for Colombians José Torres and Irene Sanaga.

Torres, a Dubai resident, said: "I like how multicultural Expo is. 2021 was good and in 2022 I’m looking forward to being able to travel!" Sanaga, who enjoyed standing in the rain that washed over the entrance to the Dubai Exhibition Centre said: "This is a great atmosphere to bid farewell to the year with wonderful memories, which is my first visit to Expo 2020 I certainly want to travel in the new year and develop my work."

© Copyright Emirates News Agency (WAM) 2021.