By Sonal Sinha
Dubai has famously remodelled itself into a global destination, with extensive infrastructure and development, in less than half a century. After the postponement of Expo 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Dubai is hosting it in 2021.
World expos have been global exhibitions committed to sharing splendid innovations, showcasing ground-breaking discoveries and inventions, and identifying resolutions to significant challenges faced by mankind. They have been organised every five years, lasting six months.
Dubai Expo 2020 is going to be the first expo in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, with personalities from over 190 nations coming together to experience top-notch science and technology, art and culture, invention and innovation. The site covers 4.38 sq km, in Dubai South, near Al Maktoum International Airport.
The aim of the expo is to help shape the world post-pandemic. Its theme is “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”. With the principal theme laying stress on creating a better future, the sub-themes are to do with sustainability, mobility and opportunity.
Sustainability underlies any vision of the future. Overuse and misuse of natural resources, and global warming are issues to engage with. Other areas of focus are governance, employment, industry, financial capital and education.
Mobility refers to progress, ranging from ideas to people. The objective is to correlate ideas from across the globe and ensure smooth and constant evolution. It encompasses social mobility, technological mobility et al. The purpose is to bridge the gap between exceedingly advanced and other regions.
The concept of opportunity aims to unlock the potential in each of us and guide us towards a better future. The Expo focuses on industry and related sectors, and organisations working in harmony with the principle of “connecting minds, creating the future”.
Portents for Dubai’s economy
Historically, the World Expo has heralded robust economic growth and influenced GDP positively in the host nation. For the United Arab Emirates, Expo 2020 holds even more potential as Dubai is the first city in the MEASA region to host such a massive global event, making it a sought-after investment destination in the future. There was a 4% jump in the stock market right after Dubai won the bid to host the Expo in 2013.
After the Expo, over 80% of the site will be reutilised and the focus will be on infrastructure and advanced technology within four crucial industries: real estate, education, transport and logistics, and tourism.
The exhibition and conference centre will also become a significant exhibition venue for Dubai, and there will be a large number of retail outlets and residential societies. Expo 2020 will also have a substantial effect on start-ups and SMEs, as these businesses will derive global exposure. It is expected to draw 25 million visitors, out of whom 17 million will be foreign.
Hence, throughout the six months that it will be on, the Expo will contribute immensely to the tourism and hospitality sectors. The UAE government is anticipating revenue generation of up to $17.7 billion. The Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan asserts that District 2020 (the Expo site) will become a massive centre of economic growth. It will also have an impact on Dubai’s job market, bolstered by the tourism, construction and transportation industries. A surge in employment is evident with the availability of over 250,000 jobs. Most pertain to the travel and tourism industry and the rest to construction.
It is anticipated that ‘Dubai Expo 2020’ will end up being the most explored keyword, providing impetus to the press, news channels and other media. The Expo is already featuring in news media lavishly.
(The author is CEO, Institute of Designing & Fashion Technology, Mumbai, entrepreneurship trainer & business consultant.)