What Does Hosting World Expo 2020 Mean for Dubai?

What Does Hosting World Expo 2020 Mean for Dubai?

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The Wall Street Journal

Dubai: 29 November 2013: Well there you have it. Dubai is hosting World Expo 2020.The Bureau International Expositions, a body of 167 member states that oversees selection and organizing of World Expos, voted in Paris on Wednesday to award the 2020 event to Dubai rather than competing cities Izmir in Turkey, Sao Paulo in Brazil and Ekaterinburg in Russia.


The news might be lost on many people outside the United Arab Emirates, as expos aren’t quite as high profile as holding the Olympics or the soccer World Cup.


But Dubai has seen a frenzy of marketing activity in the past year running up to last night’s vote. Anyone living in the emirate that was unaware of the bid surely had their head firmly buried in the sand.


So what exactly is an expo? Many Dubai residents were left asking this question on Wednesday night as cheers were heard erupting around the emirate, and fireworks lit up the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower. Fireworks erupt from the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, as Dubai wins the right to host Expo 2020.


Dubai Expo 2020 will be a six-month long exhibition of trade, innovation and products from around the world, and a showcase for the United Arab Emirates. It will be held on a giant yet-to-be-built 438-hectare site on the edge of Dubai.

Simon Stockley, a South African private banker, explains what winning the Expo bid means for Dubai


The details of the event, however, are almost irrelevant six years out. The reason the expo has become such as big deal in Dubai is because analysts believe it will boost tourism and other parts of the economy as the government spends a predicted $7 billion on infrastructure, with the benefit expected to trickle down to other industries. That spending will equate to a 0.5 percentage point increase in GDP in the years 2016-2019, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch.


“Given the relatively small size of Dubai’s economy, the economic impact could be quite large,” Capital Economics said in a note to clients, with hotels and logistics likely to be the biggest beneficiary sectors.


Most notably, analysts also predict the event could stimulate the real estate market, which is already on an upward trajectory following a catastrophic crash in prices in 2008 during the global financial crisis.


“Dubai has already seen a surge in property prices and we expect a trend of more stable and sustainable growth to persist over the short term,” Steve Morgan, head of Cluttons Middle East, said in an emailed note. “We feel the much talked about ‘Expo boost’ has already been priced into the real estate market to an extent.”


Some analysts are also urging caution amid the cheer.


Tommy Weir, leadership consultant, says business owners should be wary of people looking to make a quick buck in Dubai


Dubai predicts 277,000 jobs will be created as a result of the Expo; a big number given it equates to 20% of the current workforce of 1.3 million, according to Capital Economics. The emirate also forecasts visitors of 25 million, an optimistic figure compared with the 10 million visitors last year, and the 16 million expected in London this year, the leading city worldwide for visitors.


“If tourist arrivals fall back following the end of the expo, as we fear is likely, the Emirate could find itself facing an over-supply of hotel rooms, office space and transport infrastructure,” Capital Economics warned.



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Comments on this Article
Philip Mudartha, Mumbai Sat, November-30-2013, 11:48
I find connecting minds and sustainability, two buzzwords in the successful Expo-2020, funny to say the least. The meltdown of 2008-2010 witnessed in Dubai explains what I mean.
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