GN Focus | UAE National Day

‘An expo for the world’

With Dubai bidding to host the World Expo 2020, insiders reveal what this opportunity would mean for the emirate and the UAE

  • By Chiranti Sengupta | Features Writer
  • Published: 00:00 December 2, 2012
  • GN Focus

  • Image Credit: Gulf News Archives/WAM
  • An artist's rendition of the UAE's proposed Expo 2020 site, Dubai Trade Centre-Jebel Ali. The site is equidistant from Dubai and Abu Dhabi and adjacent to the Dubai World Central Airport. Dubai’s bid focuses heavily on the city’s ability to bring in visitors

The world’s fairs have always been a great showcase for inventions and innovations. From Heinz ketchup and the edible ice-cream cone to the electric typewriter, escalator, telephone, television, Ferris wheel and mobile phone, people got their first glance at some of the world’s most notable breakthroughs in science and technology at expos.

The reasons for hosting a world expo — organised every five years — are manifold. Ole Philipson, former president of the International Exhibitions Bureau (BIE), the intergovernmental body responsible for overseeing the bidding, selection and organisation of world expos, once pointed out: “The economic aspect of the world expo cannot be ignored. Most expenses really have been investments, and very sound investments indeed, in the future of the city and country.”

The World Expo 2020 is an incredible opportunity for the UAE. If our bid is successful, we will see further economic development, enhanced infrastructure and a host of new employment opportunities along with an even stronger global reputation and new architectural landmarks.

An expo team spokesperson

As Dubai bids to host the world’s largest exhibition in 2020, the Expo Organising Committee sheds light on the economic prospects for the UAE. “The World Expo 2020 is an incredible opportunity for the UAE,” says a spokesperson for the expo team. “If our bid is successful, we will see further economic development, enhanced infrastructure and a host of new employment opportunities along with an even stronger global reputation and new architectural landmarks.”

The team has signed six UAE companies — Dubai Airports Company, DP World, Emirates Airline, Emirates NBD, Etisalat and the Jumeirah Group — as its premier partners and also to generate support for the bid.

“If the UAE were to win its expo bid, it would immediately be transported to centre stage on a global platform, attracting millions of visitors and thousands of new businesses. Economic activity of this nature will offer extraordinary growth opportunities, resulting in sustained benefits for the country,” says Rick Pudner, Chief Executive Officer, Emirates NBD.

Lorne Riley, Head of Corporate Communications, Dubai Airports, says an estimated 25 million visitors are expected to be attracted by Expo 2020, which will be accommodated by the additional capacity the airport is currently developing. “By 2018, Dubai International Airport will have increased its capacity to 90 million passengers a year from the current 60 million. This includes the opening of Concourse A, the first dedicated Airbus A380 facility of its type in the world.”

Piers Schreiber, Vice-President of Corporate Communications, Jumeirah Group, explains that the expo will enhance the UAE’s image. “The sheer scope of the expo would reinforce the country’s reputation as a place that has the ability to host major events. Expos are also a great opportunity to build new partnerships between the public and private sectors, as well as between the UAE and nations across the world to promote economic development and cultural understanding,” he says.

New opportunities

Dubai has unique advantages to offer even as the competition to host the World Expo 2020 heats up. “Given its strategic geographic position, the UAE is a gateway to developing economies around the world. The 2020 World Expo in the UAE would be the first Expo held in the Middle East, North Africa or the Asian subcontinent, giving these vibrant and dynamic economies access to new opportunities on the world stage,” says the spokesperson of the expo team.

Deepak Jain, Head of Strategic Consulting, The Middle East and North Africa (Mena), at Jones Lang LaSalle, the real estate advisor mandated to support the master plan for the expo, says: “An expo in the UAE would truly be an expo for the world, as people from over 200 nationalities already live and work in the UAE. Besides, it is within a four-hour flight range of nearly one-third of the world’s population. A majority of the expo’s millions of visitors will come from outside the UAE.”

In June, the Higher Committee for hosting World Expo 2020 in Dubai presented in-depth insight into the country and its bid to the General Assembly of the 161 member nations of the BIE in Paris. The presentation established the UAE as a leading contender for the right to welcome the world in 2020. It also emphasised the UAE’s commitment to addressing the global priorities of sustainability, mobility and opportunity, while linking UAE-initiated solutions to these challenges to the theme of the country’s bid.

Lasting legacy

The expo team is currently hosting a series of workshops and outreach initiatives among diverse communities and stakeholders across the country, including key public sector entities, businesses and students, to raise awareness and generate nationwide support.

The UAE is also developing the blueprint for the Trade Centre in Jebel Ali, the site for the expo. It will be in the heart of the Dubai World Central development, a highly connected transport and logistics environment that will leverage Dubai’s position as a global trade, business and tourism hub.

“The 438-hectare site will reflect the UAE’s focus on connectivity and sustainability. We will use the latest technology to develop the state-of-the-art infrastructure to ensure a seamless expo experience for visitors and participants, creating a lasting legacy for generations to come,” says the expo spokesperson.

The winning city will be announced next November.

Did you know?

Dubai is bidding to host the World Expo 2020 under the theme Connecting Minds, Creating the Future. Dubai is competing with four other candidate cities to host the World Expo 2020:

• São Paulo, Brazil

• Ayutthaya, Thailand

• Izmir, Turkey

• Yekaterinburg, Russia

GN Focus