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DUBAI: Thousands of people toured Dubai's Expo 2020 on the opening day on Friday, braving hot temperatures as the Covid-delayed world fair finally opened its doors one year late.

Visitors strolled or rode electric bikes around the huge showground, which has been built from scratch at a cost of about $7 billion on Dubai's desert outskirts.

As temperatures touched 38 degrees Celsius (100 Fahrenheit), robot information systems buzzed down the shaded boulevards and formation jets plumed coloured smoke overhead.

Dubai, one of the UAE's seven emirates, is hoping to attract millions of visitors in a boost to its profile and standing during the six-month fair.

Dubai Expo 'new city' will exist for decades, says chief

Visitor numbers were not immediately available for day one, but crowds were light and attendance appeared respectable rather than busy.

"It is really a source of pride that Dubai is hosting an Expo, which means a global event," said Aysha Hussein, a 20-year-old student and Emirati citizen.

"We are all excited about the event."

One hundred and ninety-two countries have pavilions at the event, with rivals such as Israel and Palestine present as well as Qatar, which was blockaded by its Gulf neighbours for three and a half years until January.

"We were looking forward for today and the opening," said Sarah Cann, 34, a British podiatrist who lives in Dubai.

"We're looking forward to seeing some of the shows perhaps, tasting food, different food from different countries and just exploring."

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