Dubai indisputably qualifies to host World Expo 2020

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Dubai indisputably qualifies to host World Expo 2020

As a host country for more than 200 different nationalities and a vibrant hub of international commerce, trade and tourism, the UAE today is one of the most connected nations on the planet.

By Issac John

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Published: Sun 24 Feb 2013, 10:17 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 4:32 AM

Dubai, the bustling nerve centre of the Arab world’s second largest economy and one of the most sought-after shopping, conference and exhibition destinations in the world — well-connected to the rest of the world by land, sea and air — indisputably deserves to be the best qualified metropolis to host World Expo 2020 which is billed as a platform for connectivity to help pioneer new partnerships for growth and sustainability for the future.

Indeed, if the UAE wins the bid, it will not only facilitate an international celebration of new ideas and help open new frontiers of global partnership, but will also ensure enduring benefits for future generations.

World Expo, the internationally renowned event held every five years, features spectacular exhibitions, pavilions and cultural events by international organizations, businesses and nations from around the world. It also provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the issues impacting the global community such as sustainable development, resource management, global economy and the quality of life.

Where else can one find a better place to stage such an event other than the UAE, where these issues are addressed with finesse and poise?

For hosting rights, Dubai is competing against Ayutthaya, Thailand; Ekaterinburg, Russia; Izmir, Turkey; and Sao Paulo, Brazil. Come November 2013, it will be either Dubai Expo 2020 or the end of a nation’s big dreams to act as a critical catalyst for a bold, better and unified world.

While the values and objectives of the World Expo remain strongly aligned with the unique characteristics of Dubai — a city that encapsulates the entrepreneurial dynamism and cosmopolitan spirit of the modern era — its unrivalled track record as one of the most preferred MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) destinations not only in the Middle East and North Africa region, but even beyond, can never be more profoundly relevant in making the choice of World Expo 2020 venue.

Given the undeniably unique advantages of the UAE, thanks to its world class infrastructure, logistics and global connectivity, Dubai — now served by more than 150 airlines, and interconnected to the rest of the cities within the region by multi-lane highways and a state-of-the-art Metro system —remains easily accessible to one third of the world’s population in a four hour-flight, and two thirds within eight hours.

With the UAE’s increasingly pivotal role in the global economy, and its strong track record of hosting high profile global events, including the Dubai Air Show, International Defence Exhibition (Idex), Gitex (Middle East’s largest consumer IT and electronics show) and more than 200 other trade shows as well as international sporting events, there can seldom be a better platform of choice for World Expo 2020.

It must be this country’s long-standing passion to bring global citizens together that drives the UAE’s keenness to bring the World Expo for the first time to the region.

Other factors strongly in favour of Dubai Expo 2020 candidacy is the unequivocal status of the UAE as the world’s third largest re-export market and its nine world class seaports, including the flagship port of Jebel Ali, ranked as the largest container terminal between Rotterdam and Singapore.

Just as Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State and Managing Director of the UAE’s Higher Committee for Hosting World Expo 2020 in Dubai, commented, the UAE’s bid is about an Expo for the world – an opportunity for nations, countries and the business community to get involved.

There is little doubt that this advantage and opportunities offered by Dubai in boosting global trade flows, will stand Dubai in good stead.

Look at some statistics. The UAE conducts international trade with more than 220 countries. It is host to around 65 foreign business councils, and receives hundreds of foreign trade missions every year.

Dubai International, the world’s fourth busiest airport in terms of international passenger traffic, currently serves more than 150 airlines flying to over 220 destinations across six continents.

At present, the collective capacity of the airport’s three terminals is 60 million passengers per annum. It will increase to 75 million passengers when the A380-dedicated Concourse 3 opens. Annual aircraft movements in Dubai are expected to increase to 560,000 by 2020 when over 98 million passengers and over four million tonnes of air freight will pass through the emirate’s airports, a special research study has shown.

Dubai International Airport recorded total passenger traffic in the first 11 months of 2012 at 52.3 million travellers, up 13.1 per cent against 2011, with passenger numbers forecast to reach 56.5 million in 2012, and 98 million by 2020.

Abu Dhabi has recorded similarly buoyant figures with 2012 another record year according to the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority. It welcomed 2.3 million hotel guests to the emirate’s hotels and hotel apartments, representing a 13 per cent rise on 2011 figures.

As various industry reports suggest, the UAE’s hospitality market is geared up to record 67 per cent growth in revenue to $7.5 billion by 2016 - up from $4.5 billion in 2011 as visitor demand grows alongside hotel vacancies. Hotel supply is expected to increase from the current 96,992 hotel rooms in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, to a total of 125,383 hotel rooms by 2016.

Last year, the UAE drew an estimated 10 million tourists.

According to a report released by the World Travel and Tourism Council, the UAE accounts for 41 per cent of total investment in the travel and tourism sector in the Middle East.

With the UAE’s tourism map now incredibly diverse, Dubai Expo 2020 would offer an opportunity for millions of transit passengers to visit the Expo.

Together with Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah are building on their own cultural foundations to present a series of unique individual products that will help position the country as a cohesive hospitality hub, with varied appeal.

As Al Hashimy argues, given the great advantages of our country thanks to its strong infrastructure, the geographical positioning between east and west, the seamless operations between our ports and airports, and our global connectivity, “we feel we really can bring people together and do justice to our theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’.”

As the gateway to Africa, Asia and Europe, and a nexus for cross-border discussions, Dubai can offer a diverse, exciting and international profile for visitors and participants alike. The Dubai Expo 2020 will be a celebration of innovative partnerships for global progress, she says.

An important part of the Dubai bid to host Expo 2020 is recognising Expos should educate the public, and promote innovation in the service of human progress. The intention is that any Expos should not just be a benchmark for current human progress, but also propose a roadmap for the way forward.

Dubai Expo 2020 is being designed as a significant permanent addition to the facilities in Dubai, and an opportunity to build new partnerships across borders.

Should Dubai be successful in winning the bid for hosting the Expo, it would be the most high-profile and inclusive international World Expo in history with a predicted 70 per cent of the 25 million expected visitors coming from outside of the host nation.

The proposed venue for Dubai Expo 2020 is located in Dubai World Central’s exhibition district (Dubai Trade Centre-Jebel Ali) as the site would be able to fully leverage the advantages of not only the Al Maktoum International Airport but also DWC’s surrounding amenities and facilities that will be online in eight years’ time to welcome the world to this extraordinary emirate.

Ever since the Great Exhibition, held in London in 1851, World Expos remain a key meeting point for the global community to share 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.

Every five years, World Expos attract millions of visitors who explore and discover pavilions, exhibitions and cultural events staged by hundreds of participants including nations, international organisations and businesses.

Each World Expo is a catalyst for economic, cultural and social transformation and generates important legacies for the host city and nation. Hopefully in 2020 that transportation will happen right here.

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