With less than a year to the Expo 2020 Dubai, the UAE is ready to welcome the people of the world and showcase the very best the nation has to offer.
It is the first world expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region. Expo 2020 Dubai is anticipated to bring together 192 countries to showcase their innovations, culture and accomplishments.
It will serve to improve the UAE’s trade relations by building long-lasting relationships during the world fair.
This event promises to draw over 25 million visitors during the six months from October 2020 to April 2021.
While the Expo 2020 Dubai has attracted much attention since 2013 — when Dubai won the right to host the six-month fair — it is the long-term impact that is an equally important factor to boost economic growth.
Driven by key initiatives in the lead up to the event — such as issuing long-term visas, allowing 100 per cent ownership and the introduction of the “gold” card — the government aims to transform the economy by boosting investment, creating employment and investment opportunities and fostering innovation in the long run.
Influencing real estate
The bellwether real estate sector is expected to benefit from these reforms, supported by the establishment of a higher committee that will regulate the market and maintain an equilibrium between demand and supply. According to the Dubai Land Department, the number of residential transactions in the third quarter of 2019 increased by 42 per cent compared to the same period the year before.
Residential communities planned close to the Expo site are also likely to garner interest from investors due to the proximity. Until now, substantial investment in infrastructure and real estate development in preparation of the Expo has contributed positively to the economy.
Furthermore, the government has further ensured that investment is allocated towards infrastructure-related expenditure to meet the city’s expansion needs beyond the world fair.
In 2019, the UAE approved a budget of Dh61 billion for 2020, which will be allocated across social development, government sectors and infrastructure.
The scale of investment pouring into the Expo 2020 Dubai in addition to the anticipated visitor spend by 25 million visitors during the event is anticipated to support the economy by generating demand for retail, hospitality and tourism sectors.
This momentum is expected to continue after the Expo closes its door in April 2021; and supported by the Vision 2021, the Expo’s legacy aims to further bolster Dubai’s growth as the exhibition site transitions into District 2020.
Almost 80 per cent of the Expo 2020 Dubai site, which spans over 3 million square metres, will be retained as District 2020. This district is anticipated to be a futuristic, integrated community that welcomes innovators, artists and entrepreneurs.
As part of the legacy, the Sustainability Pavilion will become a Children and Science Centre, the Mobility Pavilion will be launched as a commercial building that offers high-end office spaces, and the UAE National Pavilion will be operated by the government.
The Dubai Exhibition Centre will also be retained as a key part of the Expo 2020 legacy. Additionally, the site will be home to art and cultural attractions, collaborative workspaces, design-led residential communities, exhibition centres and parks and open spaces.
District 2020 will be accessible via a dedicated metro route, known as “Route 2020”, linking it other key established communities in Dubai.
The upcoming Expo will serve to reinforce Dubai’s position as a global business and leisure hub, while supporting demand for key sectors in the long run. Beyond the Expo, the world fair also presents a tremendous opportunity for Dubai to shape its future economy and promote sustainable long-term growth.
—Ria Lobo is an Analyst — Strategy Advisory Services Consulting, CBRE Dubai.