Big hoardings near Dubai World Trade Centre supporting Dubai’s bid for Expo 2020. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: A majority of UAE residents expect Expo 2020 to positively impact their lives ahead of the event and after the event, according to a recent survey of more than 1,000 residents by strategic research company, Insight Discovery.

A majority (95 per cent) of the respondents are interested in the Expo, out of which 62 per cent expressed strong interest. Eighty-eight per cent said it will impact their lives positively.

“We believe that this survey is the first research of its kind to examine what UAE residents think about the Expo, how they relate to the event and its numerous implications. The survey confirms that there is a huge interest in the event, but identifies a number of aspects that are of concern to the country’s residents. The survey examines why Dubai Expo 2020 is unlike previous World Expos, and why it is a high stake event for Dubai and the UAE,” said Nigel Sillitoe, CEO of Insight Discovery.

Respondents in the survey were asked to identify the sectors which would most likely be the beneficiaries of Dubai Expo 2020. Sectors which received favourable mention included advertising/media/communications, financial services, real estate, retail, telecoms, and tourism/hospitality.

It was widely believed that real estate and tourism will most likely be the major beneficiaries of Dubai Expo 2020. However, 40 per cent of respondents also identified the financial services sector to be another leading beneficiary in the coming years.

“At CBD we are very optimistic about the positive impetus for the UAE economy that Dubai Expo 2020 will bring — before, during and after the actual event. In anticipation of the development of the UAE economy and financial system, we have already identified several exciting new initiatives which include new hotels, tourism projects and retail expansion,” said Peter Baltussen, CEO of Commercial Bank of Dubai (CBD)

Favourable outlook

More than 60 per cent of respondents had a favourable outlook for tourism growth in the years (2018-20) closer to Dubai Expo 2020, in comparison to the earlier period (2016-18) where tourism were predicted to grow by 33 per cent to 40 per cent.

“Dubai has successfully positioned itself as an international business hub and a gateway to markets across the MEASA region, and we believe that Expo 2020 will showcase this to the world. The Expo will undoubtedly have a positive impact as an economic catalyst that will create a long-term boost to local and regional economies in key business sectors such as finance, logistics and tourism,” said Jeff Singer, CEO of DIFC Authority.

In the survey, 73 per cent of the respondents believe that the UAE’s financial services sector will cope easily with the opportunities but challenges may arise.

On the other hand, 57 per cent of those surveyed think that the impact of the event on local banks will only be moderate, given that three quarters of the 25 million visitors to Dubai Expo 2020 will come from outside the UAE.

In terms of employment opportunities in the UAE, 57 per cent of the respondents think that the EXPO 2020 will lead to a positive impact with more job creation and new businesses.

Meanwhile, 91 per cent strongly believe that EXPO 2020 will lead to a rise in the general cost of living. Interestingly, 16 per cent doubt whether the event will be delivering benefits after it is over.