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Build it and they may come: Dubai’s World Expo 2020 bid

Build it and they may come: Dubai’s World Expo 2020 bid

Dubai may gain around $7.4 billion in return for a $2-$4 billion investment on the World Expo 2020 bid. But after all of this, will Dubai be the chosen one?

February 29, 2012 3:51 by

It’s not news per se. After all, Dubai did bid to host the World Expo 2020 back in November 2011.

But now that the emirate is seriously bidding—with the February visits of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) delegation plastered across different media, it’s kind of unavoidable to really consider that Dubai will reportedly shell out between $2 billion to $4 billion to prepare for hosting this five-yearly event.

Before we proceed, let’s get this out of the way: so what is the World Expo?

For the uninitiated, the World Expo is a 150-year old large-scale, global, non-commercial event. The World Expo aims to promote the exchange of ideas and development of the world economy, culture, science and technology, to allow exhibitors to publicise and display their achievements and improve international relationships.

Some even call it the Olympic Games of the economy, science and technology.

With the sheer scale of the event in mind, a couple of questions come up when it comes to the Dubai bid. One of them is the balancing act Dubai will be performing when it spends up to $4 billion on infrastructure to secure the expo bid on the right hand while the left hand manages to take care of the reported $4billion bond repayment that are due this year.

Quite the magic act some might say. And having been a guest of Dubai for a number of years, I would say nothing is really impossible here. It’s just a matter of who wants to make it happen.

Well since Dubai is representing the whole UAE, then perhaps one option for financial resource is oil-rich Abu Dhabi, which wouldn’t be a surprise given the financial ties that currently exist between the two.

Why Bid for the World Expo?
Getting the World Expo 2020 will be a coup for Dubai on many levels. First, it would be a nice follow up to Qatar’s World Cup 2020 win. Secondly, it’ll secure the city’s global standing in tourism and possibly trade.

But mostly, it’s about the potential financial returns. Germany, for example, generated more than $7.4 billion in value when the country hosted the World Expo 2000—at least that’s what Gulf News reports.

Kipp shares the same query that FT’s Simeon Kerr posted about how Dubai will deal with the inclusion of the Israel pavilion and its delegates in the World Expo.

While this isn’t the first time Dubai has sidestepped the issue, we wonder if there will be any public retribution in the region for this side step. I guess this one will be a ‘wait-and-see’.

Dubai pits itself against four other cities that have submitted bids for the event. These are Ayutthaya (Thailand), Ekaterinburg (Russia), Izmir (Turkey) and Sao Paulo (Brazil). The winner of will be announced in November 2013, as voted by the 160 member nations.

In a ‘will-they/won’t they’ kind of way, this is a bid definitely worth watching, especially when put in the context of Dubai slowly finding its economic feet, Abu Dhabi’s far-reaching wealth and Doha’s hunger for world recognition. And if you’re ever around in Dubai in 2020, it would definitely be worth going to the event.

With a potentially big financially pay-off, long-term tourism business and global prestige at stake (while still picking up the pieces of the past’s economic blow out), do you think Dubai is making the right move in bidding for the World Expo 2020? Or would another Middle Eastern city have been a stronger contender?

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1 Comment

  1. MK on March 4, 2012 11:39 am

    Dubai is a pefect venue, but getting the money to finance this operation is another question…ENTER Abu Dhabi!!!!


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