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A Sustainable Boom

“Expo 2020 Dubai” and its comprehensive impact on the UAE Economy

03 October 2021

For 170 years, World Expos have provided a platform for showcasing innovations and sharing experiences. The first World Expo was held in 1851 at the Crystal Palace in London in 1851, where the achievements of the first Industrial Revolution. Since its debut, Expo continues to be one of the major international events that have a major impact on the world economy, and on the economy of the host country in particular. The world fair leads to a boom in several economic sectors, most importantly travel and tourism, retailing and real estate.

This holds true for Expo 2020 Dubai, where the whole world is brought together from October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022 in one place that is the UAE. The Expo represents a huge opportunity for the host country to showcase its achievements and leading ambitious plans for the future. It is also an opportunity to draw millions of visitors and tourists, investors, business people and international companies and officials. Overall, the large-scale event will have a magical impact on the country’s economy at a time when the world is still reeling under the negative impact of Covid-19 pandemic.

Expo Dubai’s Developmental Symbolism

Expo 2020 Dubai has a profound symbolic value first because it is the first-of-kind-event in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. Additionally, it will offer an opportunity to bring together people from the whole world in one place to exchange expertise in areas such as science, technology, culture and arts, among others. The event is designed to promote communication and interaction and open up better opportunities for trade and investment exchange between all countries. Not only this, but it will also help the participating countries to collaborate to chart the future and find collective sustainable solutions to the most urgent economic, health, climate, social and cultural challenges facing the world.

Amid these challenges, the UAE now has a golden opportunity to bolster its international role and stature and benefit from the economic momentum offered by the Expo to further bolster its economic growth and open new horizons for further diversification and sustainable and all-encompassing development and income while also leaving a sustainable legacy for the generations to come. 

The positive payoff of such events that the UAE is expected to receive, is real and is evidenced in the experiences of other countries which hosted the past editions of the World Expo that had powerful immediate and long-term impact on their economies.

Investment Boom

Since it was announced winner of the World Expo 2020 hosting bid, the UAE received investments worth USD37 billion. The country is expected to receive another USD8 billion in investments during Expo 2020, making the total amount USD43 billion. Additional investments are expected to flow into the UAE after Expo 2020 is over, from partnership agreements and other deals signed during the event, which means the total inbound investments can double by the end of this decade.

Investments generated by the Expo do not only originate overseas. At home, the UAE announced infrastructure projects worth over USD billion that were built to serve Expo 2020 Dubai. Overall, these domestic and international investments would trigger a large boom in recipient sectors in the medium and long term.

Booming Real Estate and Tourism

The real estate and tourism sectors are the major recipients of foreign and domestic investments attracted by Expo 2020. The development of the site of Expo 2020 has triggered a huge flow of funds into the real estate sector. The boom was not limited to the site of the event, but rather spread to surrounding areas, which will host a large number of its visitors. The past period saw a significant increase in residential and commercial developments close to the site of the fair.

Although the event will run for only six months, its purpose-built facilities will continue to offer huge investment opportunities and can be used to sustainably serve the tourism and recreation sectors after the end of the event.

In the previous editions of the World Expo, a large number of globally renowned tourist attractions still exist today were specially built to host the world fair. These include the Eiffel Tower, the Natural History Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and many others.  These monuments will continue to draw tourists.

That is why Expo 2020 Dubai is expected to usher in a new age in tourism in the UAE. During the event, the UAE received delegations from more than 190 countries as well as 25 million visitors. In preparation for this big event, some 100 new hotels were built to provide an additional 45,000 hotel rooms to meet anticipated demand during the six-month-long exhibition in Dubai City and neighboring emirates. But even after the exposition is closed, a larger inflow of tourists is expected to continue as visitors will be driven by a desire to see the attraction of the event. This will generate larger income for the country’s tourism sector and enhance its global competitiveness while also spur economic diversification efforts on the long term.

Expected Growth for the Retail Sector

Attracting millions of visitors during and after Expo 2020 Dubai will yield huge profits and fast-paced growth in the the UAE’s retail sector. For example, the food and beverages sector is projected to have a unique opportunity for growth with up to 85,000 meals being expected to be served per hour in the site of the Expo. Additionally, an expected boost of over USD 10 billion in retail spending during the fair will benefit not only Dubai, but all retail outlets across the country.

Momentum in the Labor Market

Among the most significant signs of Dubai Expo’s positive impact on the UAE economy is the fact that the event created many job opportunities in all the country’s economic sectors since it emerged winner of the World Expo 2020 hosting bid. The announcement triggered preparations by the UAE and participating countries to launch infrastructure and real estate projects as well as projects to build national pavilions. Tens of thousands of workers from all the world were hired for these projects. According to the official site of Expo 2020 Dubai, between 50000 and 90000 new full-time jobs will be created annually from 2013 to 2031.

Expo Dubai’s Added-Value

Expo 2020 Dubai is considered a critical long-term investment for the UAE due to its support to the UAE’s future vision as well as its role in boosting comprehensive sustainable development, the path to innovation-driven economy and creating a favorable environment for major sectors such as logistics, transport, tourism, real estate, education, healthcare, the labor market, information technology, knowledge, culture, AI, environmental activities and green energy.

Overall, this investment and the boom triggered in several sectors by major projects would boost the added-value of the UAE economy. Expo 2020 Dubai and its legacy are expected to contribute USD33 billion of gross value added to the UAE’s economy from 2013 to 2031, according to the official website of Expo 2020 Dubai. It will contribute approximately 1.5% of the UAE’s annual forecast gross domestic product (GDP).