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Expo 2020: Impact on the UAE economy

The delayed Expo 2020 is set to take place between October 2021 and March 2022. It looks as though the much talked about event is finally – after a long pandemic-related delay – going to see the light of day. Over this six-month period, the global spotlight will very much be on Dubai, and it’s a huge opportunity for the emirate to show the world what it has achieved so far, and its many world-leading plans for the future.

Expos are generally considered one of the largest global events (with the Olympics being a typical comparison) and have an enormous effect on the host city – both during the event and for many years after.

This one will certainly be bringing in millions of visitors over the six-month period, and further cementing the UAE as a global player in a number of fields, demonstrating to the world the many innovations Dubai has pioneered as well as showcasing the emirate to the world and attracting even more business and tourist visitors.

The Expo is expected to have a substantial effect on tourism, real estate, construction and investment – as well as many other sectors. It’s worth noting, too, that for the small business owner or entrepreneur, this influx of people and focus on Dubai can only help their business. And now is the time to set up your company, to really take advantage of the turbo boost that Expo is going to give to all areas of the economy, whether directly or indirectly.

What is Expo 2020, and why is it important?

In short, it’s a celebration – and a chance for people from across the world to converge in one place to appreciate the very best in innovation: whether that’s in art or science, technology or business, and literally hundreds of other areas.

It’s also a chance for Dubai to demonstrate to the world its leading role in many sectors, as well as leave behind a legacy post-Expo that will benefit everyone in the UAE hopefully for years to come. It’s the first time the Expo has been held in the region encompassing the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.

What are the effects of Expo on the different sectors of the economy?

Let’s break down what Expo means for various sectors in the economy:

Investment: The most quoted figure is USD 8bn when it comes to the amount that Dubai is investing in the Expo. But that amount may seem small compared to potential revenues from the event, which have been forecast as up to twice that original investment. In fact, it’s worth noting that between the time the Expo was announced, back in 2013, and the year 2031, the event is projected to contribute USD 33bn to the overall economy.

Real estate: Expo 2020 has seen a huge boost to government-led projects in Dubai – with improved infrastructure, smart cities, and the District 2020 Expo site itself which will be transformed once the Expo is complete.

It’s thought that property prices will stabilise after the event, and there are already plans in place (known as legacy plans – more details on those below) to ensure that, after the Expo, the property market will grow and market fluctuations can be avoided once the millions of visitors leave.

Tourism: Expo 2020 is expected to attract 25 million visitors. By the time the event starts, up to 100,000 new hotel rooms will be ready, with several new luxury hotels. The Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) will be putting on a number of attractions to further boost tourism. In short, all eyes will be on Dubai.

What to expect after the Expo 2020

The Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan states that District 2020 (the Expo site) will become a major hot spot for economic growth. With affordable housing, it will also become a centre for exhibitions and tourism.

It’s an ambitious vision and may well be a turning point where Dubai’s place on the world stage is even further elevated as it grows as a city.

The key here is that Dubai is looking ahead to what all this construction and infrastructure actually means for the people of the emirate, and while the Expo itself is six months in length, this development will benefit Dubai for years to come. It’s a unique chance to build structures which not only benefit the event, but fit in perfectly with Dubai’s overall sustainability plan, and boost many sectors.

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With the Expo on its way, there has never been a better time to start a new business in the UAE.

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