“Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”
The dawn of a new year is a time for us all to reflect on the challenges we have faced and to evaluate new opportunities. 2019 rapidly approaches and so the monthly countdown to EXPO 2020 begins. Usually held every 5 years EXPO seeks to open avenues of communication and collaboration by bringing together millions of people and thousands of public and private entities. Fittingly the first EXPO to be held in the MENASA region will be hosted by Dubai, a bastion of stability, prosperity and diversity. As masses of people around the globe hotly anticipate the event, we reflect on Dubai’s evolution into a global trading hub and evaluate the opportunities that EXPO 2020 affords the Emirate.
Infrastructure & Logistics
Once a quaint fishing and pearl trading centre Dubai is now home to the world’s largest man made harbour and the world’s busiest airport by international passenger traffic. Global population growth and increased mobility will continue to push passenger numbers higher. A new international airport is under construction and passenger numbers at the existing airport are expected to exceed 100 million by the end of the decade. EXPO 2020 is set to welcome millions of visitors from over 180 countries to its Jabel Ali site with new roads and metro extensions being built to accommodate the event.
As part of the most diversified economy in the GCC region Dubai is a hive of ideas and innovation. Government departments along with corporate giants in leisure, tech, healthcare and manufacturing are each establishing accelerator programmes to sponsor new ideas and solve existing challenges. Dubai is ranked among the world’s top smart cities, well positioned to fulfill EXPO2020 motto of Connecting Minds, Creating the Future. The Dubai Future Foundation and soon-to-be-completed Museum of the Future are tasked with attracting the greatest minds from around the world to solve local challenges set by various governmental agencies. The programme includes sponsored travel, visa and accommodation for candidates to ensure there are no barriers to innovation and excellence.
Small & Medium Enterprises
A host of initiatives to support SMEs have been rolled out ahead of EXPO 2020. SMEs are a vital component of Dubai’s economy, accounting for 42% of total employment and 40% of Gross Value Added according to Dubai SME. EXPO 2020 is an opportunity for businesses to showcase innovation and to forge new relationships through the recently announced Online Marketplace Platform (OMP). Overall economic growth is expected to exceed the current rate of 3.5% as SMEs and large corporations benefit from new visa legislation allowing expatriates to remain in the country long after retirement.
Travel & Tourism
Eventually 300,000 jobs, predominantly in travel and tourism, are expected to have been created by 2021 directly as a result of EXPO 2020. Indirectly, A further million jobs are expected to have been created throughout the UAE. According to official statistics the six-month long event will attract 30 million visitors of which 17 million will be international tourists. High profile attractions being developed in anticipation of EXPO 2020 include the Jewel of the Creek and Deira Islands family entertainment complex. Recently completed attractions include the Dubai Water Canal and Dubai Parks and Resorts, the largest integrated leisure complex in the region.
Planning errors in some previous EXPOs have left host cities with a terrible hangover however The EXPO 2020 after-party has been thoroughly thought out. The District 2020 community is a mixture of residential, retail, educational, park and dining facilities and its centerpiece Al Wasl Plaza is designed to accommodate around 10,000 guests to future events.