KT Exclusive: Expo 2020 can shape the future of Dubai, says BIE chief


Dubai - It can also bring new opportunities and showcase the potential of billions of people living in emerging economies.

by Anjana Sankar

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Published: Tue 5 Oct 2021, 4:52 PM

Last updated: Tue 5 Oct 2021, 4:53 PM

Expo 2020 is bound to leave a profound impact on Dubai, said Dimitri S. Kerkentzes, secretary general of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), the intergovernmental organisation in charge of overseeing and regulating the world fair.

As much as World Expos are defined by their host destinations, the mega event can also shape the future of a city, Kerkentzes said. In fact, it has already contributed to the Dubai’s economic, urban and cultural development, he added.

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“Expo 2020 is a historic achievement that the whole region can be proud of. It is a celebration of hope, cooperation and optimism that the entire world can cherish,” Kerkentzes said in an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times.

Its contribution to Dubai will only grow stronger in the next six months and when it enters its legacy phase, he added.

Speaking about the multi-fold legacy of the Expo, the BIE chief said it would “shape the future of Dubai, giving it a new cultural, residential and business district for its growth”.

After the six-month run of the fair, the sprawling site and some of its structures will form the city’s District 2020. This mixed-use urban community shall serve as a blueprint for a human-centric, sustainable, smart city.

According to experts, Expo 2020 will spur economic development post Covid-19 and create thousands of jobs.

The mega event is expected to generate more than 277,000 new job opportunities in the UAE, across various sectors, based on estimates shared by the Dubai government.


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Kerkentzes said the Expo will also serve as a “strong marker” in the UAE’s long series of accomplishments in the year of its Golden Jubilee.

“On a global level, it will forge meaningful and lasting connections that transcend barriers to create a better future for people and the planet,” he said.

With its status as a cosmopolitan city and an international hub for trade and travel, Dubai is a perfect fit for the Expo story.

“Dubai is a place of connections and exchange, and — as reflected in the theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ — this spirit will enrich the Expo, its pavilions, exhibits and cultural programme,” the BIE chief said.

Inclusive growth for the region

As the first Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia — which has a large and youthful population — Kerkentzes said the mega event offers a unique opportunity for the region to demonstrate the role it plays in the world and its vision for the future.

“To host a World Expo in this young, dynamic and fast-growing region is to bring new opportunities and showcase the potential of billions of people living in emerging economies. I am certain that this will allow Expo 2020 Dubai to play a vital role in rebalancing the global economy towards fairer, more sustainable and more inclusive growth,” he said.

This year’s world fair is a “call for cooperation and modern multilateralism” based on common values and shared responsibilities.

“As an inclusive and universal event that is gathering a multitude of nations and cultures, Expo 2020 Dubai plays a vital role in fostering exchange between governments, civil society, companies and the public at large.

“World Expos foster dialogue and help build new bridges as part of the journey towards friendlier and mutually beneficial relations between all nations. The participation of so many countries in Expo 2020 Dubai sends a strong message to the region and the world about the Expo’s role in recognising that the bonds that tie us are stronger than the issues that divide us,” he said.


Anjana Sankar

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