On November 27, delegates from around the world will meet to decide the venue for Expo 2020. I believe they should choose Dubai. Let me explain why.
First, this is Dubai’s moment. As you approach Dubai its incredible skyline makes a stunning first impression. But as I discovered when I visited last year, you leave with a lasting impression of something far greater.
In just 50 years, Dubai has been transformed from a small fishing and pearling town into one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. This is a city where you will hear Arabic, Urdu, Malayalam, Somali, Tagalog, Russian and English all being spoken and where more than 200 nationalities live and work. One hundred thousand Britons call Dubai home, while thousands more visit for work or vacation, with over 20 flights between Dubai and the UK every day.
Dubai is a city that shows how different cultures and peoples can converge behind common goals, living and working side by side. I am proud that the UK has played a part in this and delighted to be making the case for this city to get the global recognition that Expo 2020 would bring.
Second, holding Expo 2020 in Dubai will remind the world that the Middle East is a region with potential and dynamism, a source of innovation for generations past, present and future.
When Britain thinks of Dubai and its neighbours, we think of great business partnerships. We are proud that Dubai Ports World are the biggest in Europe and that Islamic investment has helped to finance some of our greatest banks, shops and even our Olympic village.
Dubai is a great business capital and its success rightly inspires people to see the potential of the region and to believe they can change their own countries for the better with vision, conviction and hard work. Third, Dubai provides trading and transport hubs that connect the world. So an Expo in Dubai would be accessible to a far broader community.
For the first time the majority of visitors would not be from the host country, while Dubai’s close proximity to South Asia and Africa would also provide a platform to showcase dynamic societies and economies in those regions too.
When the Crystal Palace was unveiled in Hyde Park in London, at the start of the world’s first Great Exhibition in 1851, it is said that observers looked at the glass glittering in the sun and thought it resembled something out of the Arabian Nights.
Yet in more than a century and a half that followed, the great institution of the world exhibition has never yet been held in the Middle East.
I believe that with Expo 2020 it is time to put that right. There is no better place to do that than in Dubai.