Expo 2020 will be one of the most significant events in Dubai’s modern history. The first event of this magnitude to take place anywhere in the middle east, it represents the UAE’s new identity as a worldwide travel destination. The theme for Expo 2020 is Connecting Minds, Creating the Future. It will be an exposition of innovation, ingenuity, and collective human potential such as the world has never seen before.
Over 180 countries will be represented during the six-month exposition, and more than 25 million people are expected to visit—at least 70% from outside the UAE. It is an opportunity for Dubai to show the world their ability to host events on such a grand scale, and that Dubai is a place not to be missed when making travel plans.
Financial Impact of Expo 2020
The overall impact of Expo 2020 to Dubai has three phases: construction and preparation until October 2020, during the event from October 2020 to April 2021, and post-event. Throughout all of these, one constant is the need for accommodations; for those involved in the development of the site, for the visitors coming during the exposition, and then for the ongoing boost in tourism that this event will generate. It’s estimated Expo 2020 will create a need for 70 million additional room-nights. Those investing in providing accommodations will see strong ROI before, during, and after Expo 2020 with non-Expo visitors to Dubai already estimated to be 16 million guests.
Careful planning for sustainable development is underway. More than 80% of development for Expo 2020 will continue to be in use. This is not a one-time event for Dubai. Rather, it is part of an ongoing plan to diversify Dubai’s economy and attract businesses and tourists. The subthemes of Expo 2020 are Opportunity, Mobility, and Sustainability—all clear indications of the long-term impact it will have on the region and the country. All buildings on the expo site will meet a minimum of LEED Gold standards, indicating the commitment to sustainability and efficient building design.
Analysts expect the direct financial impact during Expo 2020 to be over 17 billion USD. The further-reaching impact of establishing a world-class venue of immense proportions, along with a reputation for delivering an experience such as an exposition are yet to be seen.
In all, 33 billion USD will be spent on projects related to Expo 2020. The impact will be seen everywhere from the construction industry to tourism, hospitality, residential, and commercial developments. In addition to the Expo site, development includes a residential district designed to accommodate 250,000 residents, and a commercial district that will employ 150,000 people required outside of the temporary positions for Expo 2020.
An influx of over 25 million additional visitors requires some substantial investments in infrastructure. From transportation to sewage treatment, and energy creation to airport capacity, nearly every aspect of Dubai’s infrastructure is undergoing development and improvement. Much of the work being done is below ground. The new buildings are all being built with basements that will become an underground rail and road network, allowing all logistical and support activities to occur outside the visitor’s view.
During construction of Expo 2020, at least 47 construction contracts and 98 non-construction contracts will be issued with a value of over 33 billion USD. Plans are to complete the majority of these projects one year ahead of the start of the event. The impact is extending through the local economy and into the regional and international economy, and the attraction for business and development in Dubai is strong. In 2018 the international participants will move into Dubai to begin work on their pavilions.
Expo 2020 is also making a concerted effort to include small and medium-sized businesses in the tender process, further stimulating job creation and economic growth. Over 50 percent of the contracts awarded to date have been to these businesses. In addition, Dubai is taking a very strong stance regarding worker welfare for the thousands of workers who are so important to construction. These improved standards will also contribute positively to the long-term impact of Expo 2020.
There are a variety of lesser-known non-construction business sectors that are also seeing a strong boost from Expo 2020. Printing companies, IT and data management, health and safety firms, and all manner of logistics will see an upswing in activity. In addition to meeting the needs for construction materials, businesses are meeting all the needs of workers both on and off-site, and preparing to supply all the products, food, and services that 25 million new visitors will require when they come to Expo 2020.
Dubai’s ability to host such an exhibition demonstrates its attractiveness to investors and businesses looking for the best location to establish corporate offices. Dubai is already becoming one of the top locations for companies participating in our global economy. This location becomes even more desirable because Dubai is less than four hours from one-third of the world’s population.
The impact will reach beyond Dubai, and even beyond the UAE. Expo 2020 will become a catalyst for global development, especially as the subthemes of Sustainability, Mobility, and Opportunity are explored and refined.
The years of hard work, planning, promoting, and creating Expo 2020 will provide significant and very positive results for Dubai far into the future. Infrastructure is improving across the emirate, providing a sustainable frame for ongoing use and future development. Projects will continue to attract tourists, conferences and conventions, and new businesses. Globally, Dubai is already becoming recognized as a highly desirable destination. The benefits of such positive global exposure are difficult to quantify, but are clearly long-reaching.
It is likely that every business sector within Dubai will see a strong financial benefit from Expo 2020. From shopkeepers to real estate moguls, small businesses to international corporations, the most impressive expo to-date will bring opportunity and prosperity. Dubai’s reputation as a destination for travel and business will be cemented. Those representing Dubai are privileged to share their spectacular city with the world, and the world will forever be changed because of Expo 2020.