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The World Expo 2020: What exactly is it and how will it affect Dubai?


By John Bailey, financial planner at Acuma Independent Financial Advice.

October 30, 2013 4:10 by

There is no doubt about it, Dubai has a certain vibe at the moment and the memories of 2008 seem something of a distant memory. Positive news is coming from every sector and with World Expo 2020 on the horizon, an honest question must be raised: How many people actually know what the expo is and how will it affect residents in the region if Dubai wins?

The World Expo is effectively the largest mix of trade exhibitions or world fairs and is not by any means a new concept, with the first World Expo in London in 1851.  Indeed, previous expos have yielded legacies, such as the Eiffel Tower, the telephone, ice cream and Heinz Tomato Ketchup.

So, why all this excitement?  Well, trying to grasp the enormity of not only what the expo will do for the region, but the legacy it will leave has to do with the numbers and sheer magnitude of the event.

The last expo was held in Shanghai, China. It was reported that there were more than 73 million visitors from 250 countries and the site measured a massive 5.28 square kilometres, setting a single-day record of more than 1.03 million visitors. These, by any standards, are hugely impressive, indicating how important it is for the local economy – especially when you consider the reported $157 million in profits gained during the World Expo 2010 alone.

Should Dubai receive the winning vote among its competitors, Russia, Brazil and Turkey, on November 27, the region will see an influx of more than 25 million visitors.

The knock-on effect of a successful bid is a predicted 277,000 jobs and a huge boost to not only in the ensuing job market, but also to the infrastructure sector in Dubai. With DWC’s ambitious plans to overtake airports, such as London Heathrow, in the coming years and its central location in the Middle East region, it is easy to see why this is the perfect platform and opportunity in which to raise the bar.

It would also signify good news for the many hotel chains across the region looking to show off exactly what Dubai is capable of and attract long-term clientele.  This will also provide the ideal opportunity to vastly expand the range of hotels and resorts, which will bring increased employment and revenues not only during the months of the expo, but as a legacy. From a property perspective, where there is a general feeling that the growth seen in the past 12 months is perhaps unsustainable, it will increase confidence and encourage further transactions, helping both developers and investors in the region.

For SMEs across Dubai and Abu Dhabi, there will be a surge of consumer spending, as visitors, tourists and investors flock to the region and bolster the local economy, and will enhance wealth for business owners.  As a result, if we see the confirmation of the expo, it is likely that we will also see an increase in the number of new businesses and entrepreneurs looking to benefit from the influx.

If managed correctly, there is a more solid prospective for the region moving forward.  Additionally, it will create further opportunities to purchase and will expand the ever-growing city inland, towards the proposed centre for the expo on the Jebel Ali border.

There are many reasons to be excited about the possibility of Dubai hosting the World Expo 2020 and if there is one thing that the city is known all over the world over for, it is putting on a great event. I have no doubt that if the expo ran successfully, it would be remembered for the right reasons, portraying its own legacy.

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