Ahmad Sultan Bin Sulayem, executive chairman of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre Authority; Arif Amiri, chief commercial officer of Emaar Properties; Omur Akay, senior vice-president of CH2M HILL and Sami Haidar Asad, CEO of the Arabtec Construction Group, during a discussion on the latest investment opportunities related to the Expo 2020. Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/ Gulf News

Dubai: The World Expo 2020 will boost infrastructure in Dubai and help the growth of the emirate in the long-term, according to industry experts speaking at the Destination Dubai 2020 conference in Dubai on Tuesday.

Gerald Lawless, president and Group CEO of the Jumeirah Group, said that the infrastructure that will be created for Expo 2020 “will be of great benefit to Dubai to continue growing by itself into the future.”

Dubai is enhancing its tourism and trade marketing efforts as it prepares to welcome 20 million visitors annually by 2020, which is underlined in Dubai’s tourism vision for 2020 announced last year.

In the lead up to World Expo 2020, Helal Al Merri, director-general of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), said that the emirate will have projects “specifically related to the Expo site” and overall infrastructure for hosting the exhibition.

The Expo-related infrastructure development and operations will cost “approximately €6.45 billion (Dh32.39 billion),” Al Marri said.

He added that financial institutions have not been appointed yet.

“We do expect [the funding for] a significant portion of the infrastructure will be coming from the government but there [are] also a number of private sector opportunities,” he said.

The setting up of a preparatory committee for the Expo was announced earlier this month.

Its roles include evaluating the feasibility of Dubai’s tourism, health care, road and transportation facilities, as well as assessing the tourism and economic requirements for the exhibition’s activities. The committee will work with public and private sector organisations in the UAE and abroad.

In order to accommodate 20 million visitors, the number of hotels in Dubai will need to double, Al Merri said, adding that rooms specially for Expo 2020 will not be built, since he expects that the spike in demand “for the six months during the Expo to come from the vacancy available at that time across the UAE.”

The government had recently introduced directives to enhance and streamline hotel investment and development in Dubai.

These include the allocation of government land for the development of three- and four-star hotels and the reduction of the re-approval process period for hotel construction to two months, among others.

In addition, the 10 per cent municipality fee waiver for three- and four-star hotels announced in September will be extended to one more year.