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Saudi pavilion simply irresistible

IS waiting up to 9 hours to watch a 15-minute movie worth it? Tens of thousands of people have done it, and many said it was worthwhile.

"I was really shocked by the movie inside the pavilion," a local woman surnamed Wang said after visiting the Saudi Arabia Pavilion. She spent more than five hours to enter the pavilion after the site opened at 9am.

"I have no regrets for my Expo visit because I have seen the most popular pavilion," she said.

The highlight of the pavilion is a 15-minute movie on a 360-degree, 1,600-square-meter screen called Treasure Cinema, said to be the world's largest theater.

The movie comprises many fragments of life in the Middle Eastern country, including scenes of the desert, oil exploration, urban buildings and the pilgrimage to Mecca.

Some scenes start in the sky and then zoom to the ground. Viewers stand on a moving belt that gives the illusion of flying.

A sign in the pavilion's waiting area reminds those with heart problems and hypertension that the film may cause dizziness. The warning seems to be attracting visitors, not deterring them.

"I want to check out what special visual effects the film has," said Yang Hao from Shandong Province. He and his wife had already been in line for two hours, but a sign nearby said they still needed to wait six hours.

Some visitors were curious because they wanted to know what the Saudis spent the pavilion's budget on.

"I decided to queue for at most nine hours mainly because it is said to be the most expensive pavilion," said a tourist surnamed Chen from Wuxi, Jiangsu Province.

Previous reports said the pavilion's budget exceeded 1 billion yuan (US$146 million), the most expensive foreign pavilion at the Expo site.

However, some said the lines move faster than the official waiting times that are posted around the pavilion. Some visitors said the time is about 2 hours less than the official wait times posted.

However, there are some who say it's not worth the wait.

"Eight hours is as long as a work day, so queuing for the Saudi Pavilion will make me feel as if I have wasted a whole day," said a local woman surnamed Xu. She said she would rather visit more pavilions that were less popular.

Yan Dalong, 63, left the line after waiting for one hour. He was holding his four-year-old grandson, who had fallen asleep while waiting.

"Time goes slowly when you are waiting and my grandson cannot bear that," Yan said.

Since the Expo started, the pavilion is undoubtedly one of the two most popular along with the China Pavilion.

Notices are posted along the Saudi waiting area, reminding visitors how long they need to wait from their current position. Policemen are stationed every 100 meters to ensure there is no queue jumping, which could lead to some trouble.

According to a pavilion employee, the length of the queue can stretch about 4,000 meters.

A spirit of friendliness has emerged between strangers in the queue as they pass the time.

There are also some people who have finished visiting the pavilion that remain near the exit to help others get the coveted stamp for their souvenir Expo passports.

A tourist from Shandong Province took a dozen passports to get Saudi pavilion stamps for people he didn't know.


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