Is the Expo 2020 win about to change Dubai forever?
Dubai is the first city in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region to host the World Expo, the highly celebrated international exhibition, the third largest global non-commercial event, following the Olympic Games and the Fifa World Cup.
In the near term the Expo win is widely expected to boost sentiment and confidence of the UAE’s economy. In the medium term, Dubai and the UAE would benefit from an estimated $6.9 billion (Dh25.3 billion) earmarked for infrastructure projects around the event. The centrepiece of development is a 438-hectare site at the southwestern end of Dubai next to the Dubai Word Central close to Jebel Ali port. Dubai’s construction market would benefit from the influx of new activity, but other sectors including travel, tourism and retail would also benefit.
Expos are widely expected to work as economic catalysts as they generate economic benefits for the host country in the form of increased tourism, job opportunities, and hospitality revenues. They also provide financial benefits, both during the run up to the event and after, in terms of large construction activity, and investments from outside the country, among others.
According to a report from alternate investment firm Al Masah Capital, Expos have aided physical redevelopment of host nations and cities. Expo Montreal 1967, for instance, led to the construction of structures such as the Décarie Autoroute and the Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine Bridge and tunnel, which were essential to Montreal’s subsequent growth.
The 1988 Expo in Brisbane, Australia, witnessed the laying of nearly 2,000 kilometres of telecommunications wire. Expos have been useful for branding of the host country/city. For instance, the Eiffel Tower, one of the most recognisable structures in the world, was built as the entrance arch to the 1889 World Expo in Paris, France.
Expectations are high in UAE too. Business leaders and senior executives from across various industry segments expressed their confidence in Expo 2020 transforming the economic land scape of UAE while bringing about far reaching economic prosperity.