In November last year, Dubai warded off stiff competition to win the bid to host the World Expo 2020 - marking the first time the event has ever been held in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA).
During its six-month run, it is expected that 25 million visitors will make the journey to the emirate to take part in the expo, as either exhibitors or tourists. This period will see Dubai buzzing with life, much like London was during the 2012 Olympics.
Earlier this week, the Expo 2020 Higher Preparatory Committee made its first formal address to the governing body of the event, during which Reem Al Hashemi, minister of state and member of the task force said: “Dubai Expo 2020 will be the platform to continue to execute on our country’s visionary leadership around the need for connectivity and mobility, economic opportunity and sustainable practices as the pillars of today’s interdependent world.
“The infrastructure and the progressive policies that serve this vision will continue to grow in size and quality to serve the participants and the visitors of Dubai Expo 2020.”
So, what will this major meeting point for the global community do for the emirate and the wider UAE?
Traditionally, World Expos prompt a cascade of investments in the infrastructure in the host city and Dubai should be no different.
The Chinese government spend $40 billion (£23.8 billion) on developing and strengthening the public services in Shanghai, ahead of the 2010 expo. Starting in 2004, the authorities built six new metro lines, roads, tunnels, bridges and a high-speed rail link in the city in preparation for the event.
Dubai’s plans are no less progressive, as the organisers are determined for the world to see the emirate as forward-thinking and innovative.
In a report, Trevor McFarlane, senior editor at the Economics Intelligent Unit, Middle East and Africa, said: “Besides the typical benefit of enhanced infrastructure, the UAE could expect positive global media exposure.
“The expo would be a wonderful opportunity to position the UAE as an important player on the international stage. Emiratis could show the world, particularly the business world, that the country is an open, tolerant, affluent place – keen to do business.”
According to a report from Standard Chartered, the Dubai municipality will spend approximately $9 billion to fund its plans to grow. It added: “Capital expenditure will be directed to develop city-wide infrastructure that is not already in the pipeline and the Expo area and the immediate vicinity, such as the extension of the Dubai metro red line.”
If all plans come to fruition, by the time the expo rolls around in 2020, the Dubai Metro be 110km, with the Green Line being extended by 20.6km and the Red Line 3.5 km. A further 15km will be added from the Jebel Ali to the event site near Al Maktoum International Airport.
Dubai began to feel the economic benefits of winning the privilege of hosting the World Expo 2020 as soon as the announcement was made, as there was an immediate four per cent rise in the stock market index of Emirates. That was the first time since 2008 that the index was pushed passed the 3000 point level.
And the benefits will keep coming as the event draws nearer.
As mentioned earlier, 25 million visitors will descend upon Dubai during the six-month event. These tourists will pour money into the emirate’s economy through hotels, transportation, communication, catering and other facilities they visit, such as malls and entertainment venues.
The additional visitors will subsequently cause the emirate’s GDP to rise, with experts predicting Dubai to yield AED89 billion (£14.4 billion) in added revenue.
Increased tourists arrivals and a rise in investor confidence are a winning combination for the hotel and leisure industry, as well as the retail sector.
Hotel occupancy rates are likely rise dramatically during the course of the event, meaning owners and developers could see significant hikes in their profits while the World Expo runs its course.
The World Expo is likely to have lasting benefits for Dubai, and the UAE, just like the 2010 expo had for Shanghai.
Posted by Bob Brunskill