How will Dubai & UAE benefit from expo 2020?

World expo is a global exhibition that tends to bring the world-wide community together to a common ground. It usually harbors the participation of about 190 countries and companies coming together to mutually share ideas pertaining to innovations, to converse around the key challenges in the world, and how to tackle them as well as to have fun. This event takes place in a five-year interval and is hosted in different countries (according to the elected winner) and lasts for six months consecutively. It is authorized by the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE).

The next one (Expo 2020) is set to be hosted in the United Arab Emirates (Dubai precisely) which happens to be the first time it will be hosted in the Middle Eastern, North African, and South Asian regions.

The region was elected in November 2013 to host the event during the 154th general assembly of the BIE. Dubai was able to win the election with 116 votes out of a total vote cast by 164 countries, leaving its opponent with 47 votes. This piece will be focused on Expo 2020 as it affects the Emirate of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates at large, the impact the event will have during and after the event is concluded.

Expo 2020, a mega event which is set to come up alongside the 50th-anniversary celebration of the UAE. This is a Landmark that will be of great significance in the region. The event which is themed “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” will be an avenue of connection between different nooks of the entire globe where people will gather to partake in activities that portray rich art and cultural heritage coupled with modern science & technology which will yield great Innovations and Inventions. It is aimed to drive millions of new advancements which will have a lasting effect on human existence. The event will be an appreciation of human Magnificence and accomplishment.

The event was initially proposed to hold from October 2020 to April 2021, but due to the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak which took the world by surprise, there arises the need to re-strategize and it is now scheduled to hold from October 2021 to March 2022.

Over time, the UAE has been able to prove to the world what she is capable of in terms of technological advancements and with Expo 2020, the region is set to take another giant step into the future with innovations that will influence human progress for the next 50 years to come. Trust me, the UAE never ceases to amaze the entire universe.

The site for the Expo 2020 is strategically situated in Dubai South District. A location that is very close to Al Maktoum International Airport, it is easily accessible from Dubai International Airport, as well as from Abu Dhabi International Airport and is a 40-minute drive from Downtown Dubai. It sits on a 4.38 million square Kilometers landmass. Part of the new developments to enhance the site is the new metro route dedicated to it this year (2020) and is planned to be equipped with carriages having the capacity of conveying 40,000 people per hour to as well as from the site.

How Expo 2020 will impact the UAE

In the past, for every Expo that was held, there was always a remarkable invention left behind to serve a purpose to mankind. Some of these inventions are;

  • Paris Eiffel Tower
  • Seattle Space Needle
  • Typewriter
  • Television
  • Heinz Tomato ketchup

We look forward to what this particular one will leave behind. Meanwhile, for every city that has hosted it in the past, there was always a positive impact on the city in terms of its Economy and Infrastructure. Dubai being the host city this time is certainly not an exemption.

The event is expected to contribute significantly to the tourism-based economy of Dubai as well as that of the UAE at large. However, the impact cannot be predicted precisely as it impacts on the economy of the UAE still has an element of doubt. But according to reports by analysts, the event is probable to create about USD 23 Billion between 2015 and 2021 (constituting about 24.4% of Dubai’s GDP), and is probable to increase the city’s economic growth by a value of 6.4 percent yearly from 2014 to 2016, and strongly to about 10.5 percent in 2020. These figures and projections are based on a variety of factors such as total funding by the Dubai government into this project, the number of visitors, other ancillary activities, and the impact of COVID-19.

The success of the event will surely require a very large investment from the Dubai government in executing infrastructural and general projects. According to reports, a total of USD 8.7 Billion is said to have been booked for investing in the event and is expected to yield about USD17.7 Billion if the event is successfully concluded.

The huge investment from the government towards the event is sure to provide a notable opportunity for the private sector. The Expo 2020 Dubai verily calls for implementing lots of new notable projects and the resurrection of a few other projects that may have been abandoned due to the global financial crisis. According to analysts, they believe the region could drastically pull up to USD 100 billion to USD 150 billion from foreign investment within the next few years (say: 6 years). This investment will cut across different sectors like infrastructure, transportation, real estate, tourism, and hospitality. Each of these has its benefits the region will be explained further.

Expo 2020 direct benefits to Dubai

Some of the benefits the city will be enriched within the course of the event are;

Increased Employment

One of the benefits the city is sure to enjoy from the hosting of the Expo 2020 is the increased availability of jobs. From the construction works to the cleaning work, to supervision, to manage, up to effective security of the arena. A whole lot of people will be involved in the whole process from the beginning to when the project is completed, as well as during the period of the event and even after the event is concluded – Artisans, technicians, experts, law enforcement agents, workers, etc.). The event is expected to provide about 905,200 full-time jobs in the region from 2013 to 2031 (that is estimated to be about 49,000 jobs yearly).

Small and Medium Enterprises Business Support 

Another benefit that is inculcated into the theme of the event is the support grant that is planned to be distributed to the SMEs. About USD1.5 billion is budgeted to be distributed effectively before the official opening, which will in turn produce about 12,500 jobs while still fulfilling the event’s sub-theme of assisting SMEs to grow.

Increased Hospitality

Dubai before now is known to be one of the best hospitable places in the world. Talk of the best hotels in the world, you’d surely find them in the city. Meanwhile, the Expo 2020 is planned to expect 25 million people spanning for six months on the go, with about 70 percent of the participants being visitors. There is surely a need to increase its accommodation capacity to harbor the population throughout the event. According to reports, about 45,000 hotel rooms are being added to the already existing 82,000 rooms to effectively accommodate the visitors that would be attending the event and this will require a rough estimation of about USD7.2 billion in investment to execute effectively.

Dubai is already known to have a lot of hotels, however; just a few of them are close to the Expo 2020 site. In preparation for the event, lots of hotel projects are anticipated to launch at a reasonable distance to the Expo 2020 site and even areas that are far from the site. Once these projects are complete, there are sure to be more available rooms to serve for the whole period the event will take place.

Energy boost

High Electricity demand is one problem Dubai has been facing for a long time due to its harsh weather. One of the issues that would have hindered hosting the Expo 2020 would have been inadequate electricity supply as electricity consumption reached about 9.6 Gigawatts at the beginning of 2020 (which is a 50 percent increase compared to 2012). But thanks to alternative sources of energy, the problem has been tackled.

To effectively run the event, different alternative power sources like coal, Nuclear, and Solar energy have been opted to cater to the demand. Dubai is planning on Independent Power Projects (IPPs) which include the building of its second 100 Megawatts solar park (after the first one was built in October 2013) as well as 1,200 Megawatts coal-fired Power project situated at Hassyan in Dubai. Another USD30 billion Nuclear Power project was established in Abu Dhabi and is expected to produce 5,600 Megawatts of nuclear energy (which suffices up to 25 percent of the total energy needed in the UAE)

The event is aimed to come up with an expo that would be environmentally friendly, setting a new pace for planning and executing mega-events in the future. Expo 2020 will portray a world-class mark that will feature building-integrated photovoltaic and solar technology which is targeted to generate 50 percent of the total energy required to run the site, this is sure to set a benchmark for future events.

Improved Transportation system 

Since the announcement of Dubai being the host of Expo 2020 in 2013, plans have been ongoing to improve the transportation system to and from the site. The Dubai government had pledged as much as billions of dollars to expand its already existing airports. With the recent upgrades, the Dubai International Airport is ranked the second busiest airport in the entire globe and contributes a large portion to the city’s economy. As Expo 2020 drew closer, terminal 1 and terminal 2 were expanded also concourse 3 and concourse 4 were constructed as well. Al Maktoum International Airport was also established which has a capacity of handling about 160 million passengers annually. Adjacent to this particular airport is an integrated sea and air freight facility that is sure to play a very important role in the overall transportation system of the city as well as to effectively serve the demand for the upcoming event in question.

Work was also put into the metro system of the city as a new line was recently added to the formerly existing two lines. The new line runs from Jabel Ali down to the Expo 2020 site and was inaugurated in July 2020. This particular line consist of seven stations and fifty trains are provided to run through the route just to make sure there are sufficient means to convey people to and from the site, during as well as after the mega event.

Infrastructural Development

Even if the impact of the event in other sectors of the host city is not that significant, one of the sectors that the event is sure to impact greatly on is the infrastructure of the city. From the development of the Expo 2020 site to the roads leading to the site to the provision of accommodation- everything still comes down to Infrastructure. The Dubai government has dedicated notable funding to infrastructural projects which focus clearly on the construction, real estate, as well as on the hospitability industry. These are the direct beneficiaries of the event as they tend to connect directly to the success of the event.

An estimated cost of USD6.9 billion is said to have been spent in constructing the building where the Expo 2020 will be fully hosted. As mentioned earlier, it is a 4.38 million square kilometers building that is strategically situated between the emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The building is estimated to house 700,000 square meters of pavilions as well as other venue space. It also houses permanent structures which are by estimation 500,000 square meters. The Expo headquarters will also be situated inside the building.  

As a means of preparation for the visitors that would be visiting the city during the event, which is estimated at 25 million. Great investments have been made in residential projects in form of Real estate. This is to satisfy the needs of visitors as well as people that might relocate into the city in the years before the event, during the cause of the event, and even after the event. An example of the real estate projected at the event is Mohammed bin Rashid City. This particular development plan has a lot of things inculcated into it- ranging from housing about 100 hotels, a large shopping mall, a universal studio Franchise, as well as a large park. This is only one of the numerous estate projects which are planned for the event and will constitute the memorable experience Dubai is set to provide to its audience.

Improved Economy

As lots of increasing investments are being made to different sectors of the host city (ranging from Real estate to transportation, to tourism, to hospitality), this, in turn, helps to boost the economy to a robust level. The impact will not only be felt in the host city but by the whole of the UAE and the Middle East at large. By estimation, more than 200,000 new jobs will be created in different sectors as an impact of expo 2020 as every aspect of running the site involves people. From minor services to transport, all involve the employment of workers.

The increase in job opportunities is sure to trigger an increase in population growth as more people troop in to become residents due to their new job, thereby increasing the demand for basic amenities required for human survival.

What will happen to Dubai after Expo 2020

A lot of plans have been in place just to make sure the event is a total success and its legacy lasts for a long time. However, planning before the event is just one aspect of it, the big question is “What happens next?” When the guests have dispersed, the event is over what would be the city left with?

As great as a world exhibition could be. If getting in the wrong direction can make a city totally miserable, drained up with a debted economy. However, if getting in the right direction, can be a forever treasure that shows the entire globe what you are capable of, that all the expenses are not just a waste of resources and that all your innovative ideas are not just a short-lived dream. Hosting the event itself is a risk.

The government of Dubai is well conscious of the risk involved and has planned ahead of the whole process thereby releasing detailed information on how to retain the legacy for a very long time by tagging the surrounding area where the Expo 2020 site is situated “District 2020” which will become official in October 2022 (shortly after the expo event ends in March of the same year). Some redevelopments would be done on the site before it is launched as District 2020.

Legacy of District 2020

District 2020, situated only a few kilometers away from Al Maktoum International Airport and occupying over 80% of the total Expo environment. It will serve as the newest Free Trade Zone where foreign businesses are allowed to transact freely without taxes. This place is hoped to almost triple in size to become a city of its own in the nearest future.

After redevelopments have been done on the Expo 2020 site, some of the buildings contained in the Expo 2020 building will be left unaltered (likes of the UAE National Pavilion which is inspired by the falcon as well as the World Trade Conference and Exhibition Center), while other buildings contained therein will go through transformation on the inside to suit the new purposes they will serve (likes of the “Sustainability Pavilion” which will transform to become “center for child and scientific education”).

The master plan is to make District 2020 a ready-built community of its own other than being just a business hub. It will be a very large community having both educational values as well as fun arenas. It will feature a residential space (which is about 700,000 square feet), educational facilities, as well as Parkland (whose size is equal to that of six soccer pitches combined together). Al Wasl plaza which is the center of attraction of the site will maintain its form and harbor a luxuriant garden within its dome.

District 2020 might beat “smart city” to being the new tech home as lots of companies who are into tech and innovations will occupy a significant space of some part of the 1.5 million square feet set aside for the purpose. This place will also feature a 5G mobile network which will be one of the first in the entire globe. According to popular news, Siemens will build a logistics hub in the area.

The main reason for coming up with District 2020 is simply to carry on the key mission of Expo 2020 – which “to connect people from all over the globe”. According to the planning team, they made it known to the public that the District 2020 plan has always been focused on the legacy of Expo 2020 right from the inception.

Probable Increase in Population

Another thing that is bound to happen after the Expo 2020 is the increase in population in the city of Dubai and the UAE at large. Amongst people who would be visiting during the cause of the event, there will be people who would decide to become residents due to the opportunities they may have found during the event.

By prediction, there is bound to be a spontaneous increase in jobs. You’ll agree with me that for you to work somewhere, living close by is a requirement. More people might also relocate to the region for study purposes. Whichever the individual purposes, there’s a very high probability that the population will increase after the event.

Having covered the topic itself, permit me to quickly go through a few things you can engage in if you plan to attend the event.

Things you can do if you plan to attend Expo 2020

Either you are a resident of the UAE, or a visitor attending the event. Trust me, you are bound on enjoying your visit to the Expo 2020 site as there is enough fun to experience coupled with experiences that will increase your knowledge concerning innovations, culture, and arts.

If you are in for fun, you can consider starting your day at Al Wasl plaza which is situated at the center of attraction on the Expo site. Here you’ll have the opportunity of seeing lots of amazing artworks coupled with communicative installations that portray local as well as global talents.

There are also the architectural designs of pavilions of different nations whose structures are built innovatively that they would surely wow you. Every individual has the opportunity of visiting all the available pavilions on the site. This is an experience you should not miss if you have an opportunity to be on the site as you’ll be able to experience the culture of different parts of the globe and also get a glimpse of what their history looks like.

If you are a lover of music and shows, get ready for full fun as over 60 live shows will be hosting on a daily basis. Here you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy different genres of music – Opera, Hip-hop, Blues… name it. Sporting events, celebrations, you just have enough reason to keep returning to the site daily.

Tech is what you fall in love with, you are not left out. Come have the experience of what it feels like to be in a connected world where almost everything is automated. Robotics, automated vehicles, space explorations.

There is also the opportunity for you to shop during the event as there will be more than 5,000 officially licensed products. You are allowed to purchase different products that have unique and amazing designs that will mostly be dedicated to the theme of the event. You will also have access to branded items carrying the theme as well as the sub-theme of the event. Souvenirs, toys, tech equipment, you will have enough varieties to select from

The event is set to hold for 5 months consecutively. Asides from the normal day to day fun therein, within the period of hosting the event are different seasonal celebration events. Christmas, Diwali, New year’s eve, as well as UAE National Day are popular events that come up yearly within the stated period, so you should expect more power-packed entertainment to mark them. All these are what you should not be told about. So, give me a reason you should not be there physically during the event. 

In Conclusion

World Expo is one mega event on earth. Which is targeted at bringing out innovative ideas from smart and highly intelligent individuals, ideas that will help to solve the problem on planet Earth.

Dubai being the host city of the Expo 2020 is sure to be impacted positively and this is hoped to be the case continually for the next decade after the conclusion of the event.

Though there was a re-scheduling of the Expo from 2020 to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the global shutdown followed by that, the expo is expected to provide the same results as pre-planned. The next decade is expected to be a game-changer for the city of Dubai with the Expo and the following few years after the Expo helping it to transition completely from the dependence of traditional old based economy (what is left of it. Dubai has already transitioned a major portion of the economy out of oil into other sectors) to a new economy focused on tourism and trade.

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