Expo spur makes businesses dream

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Expo spur makes businesses dream

Dubai bid pledges sustainability, from solar power usage to re-cycling

By Muzaffar Rizvi

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Published: Wed 23 Oct 2013, 12:34 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 6:39 PM

While waiting for the formal announcement in November about which proud city has got the opportunity to host Expo 2020, the city’s major business groups are confident that Dubai would top.

Many of them are gearing up for an exciting phase of expansion as hosting the world’s premier trade fair would energise the emirate’s economic growth in the next seven years and fuel a boom in tourism, trade, finance, real estate and hospitality.

“We are very positive about Dubai’s chances of winning. The emirate has done a great job of presenting its capabilities and has elicited a positive response from the local, regional and international community,” Firoz Merchant, chairman of Pure Gold Jewellers, told Khaleej Times.

“If Dubai wins, we will (step up on) our operations in anticipation of serving more customers. The expo will create more job opportunities, which will see more people settling here. There will be more residential and retail developments around Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road.

“There will also be an increase in the number of tourists. We will be in a secure position to handle greater demand.”

Abdulla Al Gurg, group general manager, Essa Saleh Al Gurg Group, said the UAE is in a constant process of transformation with the leadership launching path-breaking initiatives to spur the economy on.

“If the nation wins, the event is forecast to attract 25 million tourists, who would in turn create opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses,” Al Gurg said.

He said more metro lines, ports, infrastructure services, and tourism and entertainment facilities will be developed for the event.

“The Essa Saleh Al Gurg Group wholeheartedly supports Dubai’s bid for World Expo 2020,” he said. “It will create further (scope) for innovation in various sectors and promote partnerships and collaboration between participants and visitors.”

Dubai is a front-runner with Izmir in Turkey, Sao Paulo in Brazil and Yekaterinburg in Russia also vying to secure the right to host the mega event. Izmir lost its previous bid for Expo 2015 to Milan.

The Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions, the international organization that oversees World Expo, is expected to announce the winning candidate at its assembly on November 26-27.

More than 250 representatives from 167 member nations will decide the final candidate.

According to a report by consultancy Oxford Economics, the event is expected to attract 25 million visitors during the six-month period and create approximately 277,000 jobs.

Government and private sector investments in new projects may amount to more than $18 billion.

The Standard Chartered said in a recent report that Dubai’s Expo 2020 bid is a move in the right direction.

“We see benefits in the near, medium and long term for Dubai,” the report said, adding that there might be a sentiment and confidence boost for the emirate in the near term.

It also said the Dubai government was careful to ensure sustainability in all aspects of its expo plans, from the use of solar power to re-cycling infrastructure that will be adapted to provide affordable housing schemes.

“More importantly, just as Dubai was quick to utilise the infrastructure put in place for the World Bank/IMF meetings in 2003, we are optimistic that the new infrastructure will be used to host a growing number of international and regional events,” the report said.

“In addition, there are plans to convert parts of the scheme into a national museum and research facilities.”

According to another report, visitor spending is expected to generate an additional $23 billion during 2015-2021. Besides, there will be a boost in GDP during the pre-event and post-event period as well.

The Bank of America has estimated a 0.5 per cent annual rise in the emirate’s GDP during 2016-2019 while a bigger jump — up to two percentage points — is expected in 2020-21.

Some analysts say expectations that Dubai will win are boosting stock exchanges.

The Dubai Financial Market opened the week on a bullish note with a 2.8 per cent rise in the benchmark index while trading volume trebled on Sunday.

The Abu Dhabi market gauge gained 1.1 per cent on Monday.

“The possibility of winning Expo 2020 is also important,” said Saleem Khokhar, head of equities at National Bank of Abu Dhabi’s Asset Management Group.

“The UAE appears to be the leading contender.”

The Dubai stock market has advanced 79 per cent this year so far, more than any of the 50 largest equity markets.

The Abu Dhabi stock market rose about 46 per cent.


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