The UAE on Wednesday announced a $150 million (Dh733.9 million) aid package to support developing countries’ participation at the Expo 2020, in addition to the $100 million Partnership Fund to support innovative ideas for creating opportunities, mobility and sustainability as part of Dubai’s Expo 2020 bid.
Dubai is bidding to host the World Expo 2020 and faces competition from Sao Paulo of Brazil, Izmir of Turkey and Russian city of Yekaterinburg, following the disqualification of Ayutthaya of Thailand.
Princess Haya Bint Al Hussain, wife of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, made the announcement in Paris on Wednesday in the presence of a top-level UAE delegation.
The delegation is led by Shaikh Mohammad, Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister for Foreign Affairs, Reem Ebrahim Al Hashemi, UAE Minister of State and Managing Director of the Higher Committee for Expo 2020, and Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman of the UAE Higher Committee for Expo 2020.
He was also joined by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai.
Princess Haya, a former Olympian and a United Nations’ Peace Ambassador, made the announcement as part of a key initiative, Expo Live, at the General Assembly of the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE) at the OECD Centre in Paris.
In order to ensure greater participation, the UAE announced â¬150 million to developing countries who cannot attend Expo 2020 due to financial reasons.
Fund to foster innovation
Meanwhile, it allocated $100 million for building partnerships and innovation. The amount will be spent on supporting creative ideas and entrepreneurship that promotes mobility, sustainability and creates opportunities for all.
The UAE presentation commenced with a speech by Al Hashemi in which she underlined the UAE’s core strengths and values. She also made a case on why the UAE is best suited to host the Expo 2020.
This is the second round of presentation. It is part of the complex bidding process that ends in November with a third round of presentation followed by a secret ballot by 166 members of the BIE. The winner then gets about seven years to prepare for developing the World Expo site, infrastructure, transportation and logistics.
The World Expo, which takes place once in five years, runs for six months — the longest global event of this scale.
Princess Haya, speaking flawlessly in both French and English, narrated the UAE’s history and its formation through a series of documentaries. She also talked of how the nation was built by forging partnerships. With Expo 2020, she said Dubai and the UAE wanted to extend this partnership to a new level.
“In Dubai, we have built a city that has become a global incubator for ideas and innovation. We must find ways to create opportunities by fostering partnership and innovation,” Princess Haya said in her presentation, based on the theme — Connecting minds, creating the future.
She cited successful partnerships such as Etisalat’s collaboration in Sri Lanka to create a Book Hub — an online portal that is helping spread knowledge and education — and DP World’s role in developing a port in Peru that is supporting thousands of lives.
Shaikh Ahmad expressed his confidence in winning the bid in November this year. “We are optimistic, although the other countries are also strong contenders,” he told Gulf News after the presentation. “The presence of Shaikh Mohammad demonstrates the strong support given by the UAE Government for the Expo 2020 bid.”
Reflecting on the UAE’s partnerships with others, Shaikh Ahmad said: “We have always supported developing countries. It is part of our culture and we have been doing it — be it aid or creating institutions or businesses, the UAE has always been doing it. That’s why, we are promoting this theme for Expo 2020, which is one of the best platforms of cooperation and partnership.”
Officials of BIE, which oversees the bidding and preparation process for the World Expo, appreciated Dubai’s bid quality.
“I am extremely happy with the quality of the bid presentation by the Dubai team. It’s impressive and Dubai is a very strong contender,” Ferdinand Nagy, president of BIE, told Gulf News after the presentation by all four parties.
However, Vicente Gonzalez Loscertales, secretary general of the BIE, is keen to see that the Arab world gets its fair share of exposure in the international exposition. “The Middle East is emerging, despite the volatility and conflicts. However, its emergence as a strong economic power reflects the strong human spirit that is helping the region to overcome hurdles — as is reflected in the growth and development of the UAE,” Loscertales told Gulf News. “The UAE’s bid is excellent, especially the presentation by Princess Haya is really good.”
Although supporting participants from the developing world is part of the World Expo requirements, the UAE has excelled by help worth â¬150 million.
“This is a master stroke and will not only ensure participation but will also help the UAE win votes at the ballot in November,” an analyst said, requesting anonymity.
When asked about Turkey’s investment, Turkish minister for the European Union Egemen Bagis told Gulf News: “I do not want to limit ourselves with numbers. But it will be a memorable expo, if we are allowed to host it.
“We are confident to host it,” he said, when asked how many countries have pledged their support to the Turkish bid.
The next Expo 2015 will be held in Milan while the previous World Expo was held in Shanghai, China, in 2010.