Maurice Flanagan says that Dubai 2003 has great importance in helping to fulfil his ambitions of showing that the city is at the centre of the world.

"It helps to place Dubai emphatically on the world map even more than it is at the moment," he says.

It is not just that Dubai will see several thousands of extra visitors, a great number of whom will travel on Emirates and get the chance to sample the standards that the airline boasts of.

It is not just that there already is almost constant exposure in the world's media headlines for the next few days. It is not just that visitors will realise that Dubai has made the desert bloom with a modern congenial city.

It is something of a combination of all of these things. Flanagan compares the effect of being in the world spotlight to "a ratchet. Awareness is like a kind of ratchet: it always goes up, never goes down. Anything that raises world awareness of Dubai, where it is, what is happening here, helps us enormously.

This event will ratchet it up significantly and it won't slide down," he adds, well aware that the annual meetings of the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund are the biggest event of the global financial year, the "world financial summit", they are sometimes called, since they bring together both the leading government figures and the world's top commercial and central bankers in one place.