Milan breaks even on investments in Expo 2015

Milan breaks even on investments in Expo 2015

Describing the UAE’s pavilion at the Milan Expo as “beautiful”, he said it was already generating interest among Italians.

By Deepthi Nair

Published: Tue 10 Feb 2015, 11:34 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 11:47 PM

Dubai — The agricultural and food processing industries in Italy are expected to benefit the most from Expo Milan 2015.

This was disclosed by a delegation from Italy, who were in Dubai on Sunday to promote the Expo 2015 event, being hosted by Milan from May 1 to October 31 this year under the theme ‘Feed the Planet, Energy for Life’.

“Everything is in place. We have a record number of countries (144) and pavilions (53) participating in the Milan Expo,” said Giorgio Starace, Italian Ambassador to the UAE. “Milan is going to be an incubator of ideas for the future, like Dubai.”

Milan breaks even on investments in Expo 2015The Italian government has achieved a financial break even on investments in the Expo.

“Italy’s public investment in the Milan Expo is €1.2 billion. This is on the construction site only. It is difficult to compute the other costs involved on the infrastructure as it will amount to approximately €6 to €7 billion. Foreign investment has reached over €1 billion and private investment €380 million,” said Fabrizio Sala, counsellor of the region of Lombardy for Expo 2015.

Admitting a delay in preparations for the six-month trade event, Sala said: “A number of countries tried to modify their pavilions. They initially decided to participate, but then later withdrew considering the size of the investment. Now, we are abiding by the timetable. A few days before the official opening of the Expo, we are going to be ready.”

Describing the UAE’s pavilion at the Milan Expo as “beautiful”, he said it was already generating interest among Italians.

Promoting the Lombardy region’s tourism credentials to the 20 million visitors expected to descend on Milan, Sala added: “We want Expo visitors to visit Lombardy which has mountains, lakes and hillsides. The daily flights from the UAE to Milan will play a very vital role.”

Unlike Dubai, which won the bid to host the Expo in 2020, which saw an immediate spike in the prices of real estate, Milan has not seen an upturn in property rates. “The real estate crisis is behind us and we have achieved an equilibrium between demand and supply. There has been no effect induced by the Expo,” Sala said.

The official added that the financial crisis had an effect on certain countries which decided to participate in the Milan Expo. “It is not easy for certain coutries to invest €50 to €60 million on the pavilions. Some countries decided not to participate or to have a strong presence — they are just going to be present for representation sake.”

To a question on offering any tips to Dubai in terms of hosting an Expo, Sala said: “The themes selected for our Expos are going to determine the future of our population. Hence, we can achieve something important working together.” Most pavilions and structures at the Milan Expo will be dismantled six months after the event. “We are thinking of maintaining some pavilions and structures, mainly Italy’s, to create economic services with an international connotation. This area will be subject to in-depth analysis in consultation wih universities and other economic groups. We want the Milan Expo site to remain an area with an international flavour,” he added.

Meanwhile, on the sidelines of the Expo meeting, the Italian Ambassador said that the UAE is going to be the first country in the Arab world to take advantage of the visa waiver proposed by the European Union. “Negotiations took two years. Technical procedures are in place and Emiratis can likely avail of the visa waiver from spring,” Starace informed.

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