Cass backs Dubai bid

One hundred and sixty years ago when the first of what we now refer to as the ‘World Expo’ took place in London, there were probably very few — if any — visitors to it who would have been aware of the Gulf region, and even fewer who would have predicted that one day this Gulf region would have a city in the running to host a World Expo.

Now, of course, the Gulf and the countries in it are no longer considered remote. Many people around the world know about — or of — the UAE and, in particular, Dubai. Lots of those people have been here for work or on holiday and have marvelled at the city’s rapid development, its skyline, the financial district, its shops, the beaches and desert which form its borders, and of course, the transport infrastructure that means it is no longer remote but rather one of most easily accessible cities in the world, regardless of your point of origin.

For me though, the bid is less about the tangible — and, to be honest, obvious — attributes of the city. It’s more about what those who do not live here may not see or be aware of. It is a statement of intent. A statement about how the UAE — and the region — sees itself and its future.

This has long been a region of entrepreneurs and the SME sector in the Middle East has never stopped thriving. It is, after all, partly this entrepreneurial spirit that has taken the UAE from a standing start in 1971 to where it is today.

Historically, this was a town of traders, of large families building connections and networks with the outside world through trade. The vision to turn the city into a knowledge-based and diversified economy has transformed it entirely in terms of its physical landscape and its mentality.

The country can now claim to be the regional hub for trading, finance, aviation, sport, education, logistics and transportation. It boasts a number of homegrown success stories, including: Masdar City, Emirates and Etihad airlines, DP World, Emaar, Abu Dhabi’s Formula One and the Jumeirah Group. These entities serve to strengthen ties between the UAE and the rest of the world and underline the country’s desire to spearhead innovation and change.

The push for constant innovation is in keeping with the Middle East’s significant contribution to culture, science and innovation that dates back thousands of years.

As an education provider, the theme of Dubai’s bid, ‘Connecting minds, Creating the future’ and putting this theme into practice on a macro-scale over the course of six months during a World Expo is the best way to demonstrate not just the accomplishments of this country and this region but, arguably and more importantly, their unwavering entrepreneurial spirit and continuous potential for future development.

Ehsan Razavizadeh is the Regional Director, MENA and Head of Dubai Centre, Cass Business School

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