October 1, 2013
DUBAI — Among four competing cities, Dubai is seen as the best-positioned candidate to host the global exposition, World Expo 2020, according to a survey of 1,000 executives from the Alliance Business Centre’s Network (ABCN).
Among all participants, 57 percent or 570 executives voted in favor of Dubai, while 18 percent saw Russia’s Yekaterinburg as the best choice. Brazil’s Sao Paulo scored 14 percent of total votes and Turkey’s Izmir lagged behind with 11 percent.
The winner of the bid is expected to be announced by the end of November. If successful, Dubai could potentially attract 25 million visitors to the event, which could last up to six months, and would be the first Middle Eastern city to host the huge exhibition.
A number of factors contributed to Dubai’s popularity as the destination of choice in the survey. Some 35 percent of participants found the city’s openness and cultural diversity as the main reasons qualifying it to host the Expo. This was followed by the emirate’s strategic location as a central tourism and trade hub, its world class infrastructure as well as its political and social stability, scoring close to 20 percent each.
The survey included 1,000 managers from the ABCN international network spread across 28 countries in Europe, the Americas, Asia and Australia, including the three competing nations.
The emirate would benefit economically and socially from hosting the Expo with high expectations of multi-billion-dollar project launches. Close to 45 percent of executives surveyed said that they anticipated new opportunities for growth and the potential of setting up a business in Dubai if the bid ended in success.
“As Alliance operates 650 business centers with 15,000 companies globally, we decided to gauge our clients’ sentiment around Dubai’s readiness to host the Expo 2020,” said Sherif Kamel, President of Alliance Business Centre’s Network for the Middle East and North Africa.
The history of World Expos can be traced back to The Great Exhibition in London in 1851. The event played an important role in social development via art and design, education, trade and international relations, and tourism. Today, the event occurs every five years and is seen as a good opportunity for global communities to meet and exchange innovations and make progress on issues of international importance such as the global economy, sustainable development and improved quality of life for the world’s population. In addition, the Expos contribute to economic progress and job creation in the hosting nation.
Kamel highlighted the success of Expo 2010 in Shanghai, which attracted 73 million visitors and 246 nations participating with pavilions for six months. The exposition augmented the city’s GDP by five percent that year, and 31 percent of tourists who attended the Expo visited neighboring cities in China.
It is projected that Expo 2020 will bring in AED 139 billion in revenue to the UAE and create 277,000 jobs between 2013 and 2021, according to a recent study by the UK-based consultancy, Oxford Economics. The effect of this prosperity is expected to trickle down to other parts of the Middle East and Africa region.
“The results of the survey are a clear indication of Dubai’s unique position on the world map, thanks to its cultural and business openness and diversity,” said Kamel. “These pillars are the guiding principles that propelled the emirate to its current position of economic strength and social stability, creating an array of investment and employment opportunities for people from all over the world.”