Dubai Expo 2020 seen as 
a game changing event

Dubai Expo 2020 seen as 
a game changing event

It will trigger a new era of the UAE’s exponential growth

By Issac John

Published: Fri 28 Mar 2014, 11:28 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 10:31 PM

A vast majority of respondents in a survey said they are interested in the Expo 2020 as it would be a game-changer, but also believe that the event will push up the cost of living across the country.

According to a survey of 1,000 residents polled by Insight Discovery, only 16 per cent of the respondents said they doubted if the event would deliver any benefits once it is over.

Dubai expects to attract about 25 million visitors and plans to build a 4.3 million square metres exhibition area to host presentations from 182 countries. — KT photo

Dubai’s World Expo 2020 win, seen by many as a defining milestone in the emirate’s dazzling success saga, is expected to trigger the start of a new era of exponential growth for the UAE and also for the whole GCC region.

Around 95 per cent of the respondents are interested in the Expo, out of which 62 per cent expressed strong interest, and 88 per cent said it would impact their lives positively as Dubai expects to attract about 25 million visitors and plans to build a 4.3 million sqm exhibition area at a site in the desert south of the city to host presentations from 182 countries.

Some 40 per cent strongly agreed that they fully understand what Dubai Expo 2020 involves, another 49 per cent somewhat agreed.

Around 52 per cent of respondents strongly agreed that Dubai Expo 2020 will have a positive impact on their lives, another 36 per cent somewhat agreed.

Nigel Sillitoe, CEO of Insight Discovery, said the survey is the first research of its kind to examine what UAE residents think about the Expo, how they relate to the event and its numerous implications. “The survey confirms that there is huge interest in the event, but identifies a number of aspects that are of concern to the country’s residents. The survey examines why Dubai Expo 2020 is unlike previous World Expos, and why it is a high stake event for Dubai and the UAE.”

Respondents in the survey were asked to identify the sectors, which would most likely be the beneficiaries of Dubai Expo 2020. Sectors which received favourable mention included advertising/media/communications, financial services, real estate, retail, telecoms, and tourism/hospitality. It was widely believed that real estate and tourism would most likely be the major beneficiaries of Dubai Expo 2020.

However, 40 per cent of respondents also identified the financial services sector to be another leading beneficiary in the coming years.

HSBC estimates that about 45,000 new hotel rooms will be needed for the event, increasing supply by about 6.4 per cent every year until 2020 at a cost of more than Dh31 billion. “The government is planning to spend about Dh26 billion on infrastructure for which we do not know the funding source.”

HSBC estimates that a further Dh30 billion will be raised through debt and equity from private companies that are building hotels.Over 60 per cent of respondents had a favourable outlook for tourism growth in the years (2018-20) closer to Dubai Expo 2020, in comparison to the earlier period (2016-18) where tourism were predicted to grow by 33 per cent to 40 per cent. Many (61 per cent) of the survey respondents were found to have a strong opinion on the tourism potential of Dubai Expo 2020 as the event is estimated to attract nearly 25 million visitors. Another 30 per cent agree that it will boost tourism since Dubai has an established infrastructure.

Jeff Singer, CEO of DIFC Authority, said Dubai has successfully positioned itself as an international business hub and a gateway to markets across the MEASA region. “The Expo will undoubtedly have a positive impact as an economic catalyst that will create a long-term boost to local and regional economies in key business sectors such as finance, logistics and tourism.’’

In the survey, 73 per cent of the respondents believe that the UAE’s financial services sector will cope easily with the opportunities but challenges may arise.

On the other hand, 57 per cent of those surveyed think that the impact of the event on local banks will only be moderate, given that three quarters of the 25 million visitors to Dubai Expo 2020 will come from outside the UAE. Jawed Barna, CEO of Zurich International Life Middle East & Africa, said the success of Expo 2020 further highlighted the importance of Dubai as a regional and International hub and a centre of business excellence.

In terms of employment opportunities in the UAE, 57 per cent of the respondents think that the Expo 2020 will lead to a positive impact with more job creation and new businesses.

Meanwhile, 91 per cent strongly believe that Expo 2020 will lead to a rise in the general cost of living.

Sillitoe said the governments of Dubai and the UAE are to be congratulated for winning this major world event. They now face the challenge of managing the expectations and perceptions of residents and other stakeholders over the next six years. The years leading up to this event will be demanding on infrastructure and services, but nevertheless we are confident that Dubai will deliver like it has always done.”

Insight Discovery conducted this Dubai Expo 2020 survey in partnership with Commercial Bank of Dubai, Dubai International Financial Centre Authority (DIFCA), Grant Thornton and Zurich Insurance Group.


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