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UAE: Another Step towards World EXPO 2020

Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

United Arab Emirates is more than eager to host the prestigious World EXPO 2020 in Dubai. To achieve it diversified but integrated efforts have already been initiated since the dawn of this year in and around the country. Now, UAE is inching towards it and hopefully, keeping in view its strong socio-economic growth, supportive infrastructure capabilities, revolutionized service sector and financial surplus, UAE would be bestowed to host World EXPO 2020.

Mohamed Meer Abdalla Al Raeesi, the UAE’s Ambassador to France, has now submitted the country’s official “Bid Dossier” in support of its bid to host World Expo 2020 to the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions (BIE). It has the discretions of overseeing the bidding, selection and organisation of World Expos. UAE took more than 10 month to produce the 600-page document. It contains the lengthy details of the UAE’s vision for the 2020 World Expo. It highlights the Dubai Expo 2020 theme. It also outlines UAE plans for the Dubai Expo 2020. It discusses its site, event visitors and promotion. It estimates financial costs and environmental impact. It projects the ideas about the legacy to the host city and beyond. Now, the Bid Dossier will be sent to representatives of all 161 member countries of the BIE.

The other competing four countries are Ayutthaya (Thailand); Ekaterinburg (Russia); Izmir (Turkey); and Sao Paulo (Brazil). All the competing cities of the five countries were all required to submit their plans to the BIE by Monday’s deadline and are now not allowed to make any further submission. BIE officials will review the Bid Dossiers in detail before visiting each country to assess the plans.

Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State and Managing Director of the Higher Committee for Hosting the 2020 World Expo

Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State and Managing Director of the Higher Committee for Hosting the 2020 World Expo, said, “we have prepared a distinctive dossier to convey an authentic portrait of our Nation and its vision to deliver an unforgettable World Expo in the UAE. In line with our theme – Connecting Minds, Creating the Future – Dubai Expo 2020 aspires to be a celebration of innovative new partnerships offering enduring benefits for future generations. It is indeed thorough integrative exercise and piece of work which is a deep portrayal of UAE capability to host such a mega-event on the eve of our 50th anniversary, she added.” The winning city will be announced in November 2013 following a vote by the 161 member nations of the BIE.

Different round of high officials meetings have been in great swing throughout the country. It seems that from top to bottom everyone is united to win the bid for hosting World EXPO 2020 in Dubai. Public relations campaigns have already been started in different public and private centers not confined to schools, universities and media houses. Diplomatic efforts are on the card to win the support from the Gulf Cooperation Council States and African Continent. Many diplomatic delegations have already been sent in these countries for wining crucial support. Arab League, GCC, and majority of the African countries have already shown positive responses in this regard.

Social media is being effectively used for its countrywide and global public awareness. Interactive sessions are being made to win the support from the masses throughout the country and specifically within the region. Eight ambassadors “EXPO 2020” have also been selected for its speedy media projection. Last but not the least, the World Expo 2020 master plan has also been finalized and announced. It site master plan has been designed by HOK, Populus and Arup. The Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) has already been named a lead sponsor for the UAE’s bid to host the Expo in Dubai. DTCM and the Expo team will work together to raise awareness about the country’s bid campaign through a series of ongoing diversified but integrated efforts which include hosting conventions, branding, and distributing informational brochures throughout the city.

Socio-Economic Advantages of UAE & Dubai

Sheikh Zayed Mosque

Dubai the financial hub of the capital has all the financial resources to complete it with ease. It has diversified human expertise supported by leadership vision to win and host it successfully. It is the home of not only tallest buildings but also infrastructure, technologies and transportation systems to host the World EXPO 2020. One of the sub-themes of the UAE bid to host World Expo 2020 in Dubai has been the focus on economic development.

Mercer quality of life survey (December, 2012) has ranked UAE two main cities (Abu Dhabi & Dubai) top in the Middle East and Africa in an annual quality of life survey. Moreover, most recently Abu Dhabi has been named ‘Best Business City International’ by Global Traveler magazine the USA’s leading publication for frequent luxury and business travellers. Both the recognitions are self-explanatory which verify its socio-economic strength.

According to analysis of the market by CAPA-Centre for Aviation (December, 2012), the three major international airports of the UAE could reach a passenger throughput of 80 million in 2012. Each of Dubai International, Abu Dhabi International and Sharjah International has achieved double-digit growth in traffic in the first nine months of this year, hitting a combined 59 million passengers which may reach to 80 million in the current fiscal year.

New report compiled by the World Bank, International Financial Corporation, or IFC, and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) says that companies in the UAE enjoy the world’s least demanding tax framework. It is also counter verified by the recently published report of 2nd Annual Chief Audit Executive Conference which upholds that UAE as a leader in corporate governance and transparency drives.

The World Economic (November 2012) titled “The Global Competitiveness Report 2012-13” has ranked UAE 24th globally out of 144 countries. It verifies that its economy is factor Driven, efficiency driven; and innovation driven. It is also regional leaders in innovation and knowledge-based economy. Its federal budget 2012-2013 witnesses zero-deficit budget, a rarity in the ongoing global economic recession and financial crunch.

UAE’s competiveness index 2011-2012 regarding the labour market efficiency surged by 21 points to 7th globally. Moreover, UAE topped the list of Arab countries and ranked 5th globally in the World Bank’s Doing Business Report for ease of trading across borders. In addition to this it ranked 1st among Arab countries and 17th worldwide on the UN’s recent World Happiness Report and 16th internationally in the IMD s World Competitiveness Yearbook.

Presenting the advantages of Dubai, Ms. Al Hashamy highlighted the opening to Dubai which already hosts more than 200 different nationalities. The city has infrastructures and represents a place of business with extensive experience in the field of organization of international meetings.

But in the race to attract African voices at the time of voting, Dubai will have to compete with Turkey’s candidacy of Izimir city. Turnkey is present already in Africa and has distinguished itself in recent years by a stronger presence in several African countries by increasing considerably the number of its embassies. Moreover, Turkey has a special relationship with many countries, through the organization of international meetings, construction of schools in African cities and the formation of African students its different universities.

Focusing on the theme “Connecting minds, shaping the future,” the candidature of Dubai to host Expo 2020 is yet entitled, among other advantages, to attract a spectacular number of visitors estimated at 50 million people, passing through its international airport and several thousands of hotel rooms.

According to UAE central bank monthly reports (December, 2012), it has the biggest banking industry in the region which again shows its financial strength to finance this kind of mega project in the country with full ease.

International Institute of Management Development in Switzerland, Global Competitiveness Report 2012 “Efficiency of governmental fiscal policy” has ranked UAE scored first place which proves it financial and fiscal soundness. UN World Happiness Report puts UAE & 1st among Arab countries and 17th worldwide. UN e-Government Readiness Survey (2012) terms UAE 21 in global rankings. It placed the UAE at 28th place in 2010. Global Competitiveness Report 2012-13 “Innovation and creativity” ranks it 23rd. The World Economic Forum (WEF) 2012 Global Enabling Trade Report & quality of air transport infrastructure puts it 4th, 6th and 7th in quality of seaport infrastructure and transshipment connectivity respectively.

According to World Bank’s World Governance Indicators (2011) UAE legal and regulatory environment ranks at par excellence. United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (2012) UAE is the largest Arab capital exporter. It has pumped more than $57 billion into foreign markets to emerge as the largest capital exporter in the Arab region. UAE also emerged as the second recipient of FDI in the region attracting nearly $85.4 billion it added further.

Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (2012) UAE is the third-most competitive economy in the region. Inter-Arab Investment Guarantee Corporation (IAIGC), Kuwait UAE emerged as one of the largest global investors in cross-border acquisitions. Department of Economic Development (2012, 2nd quarter Report) UAE remained robust during the second quarter of 2012 because of a positive outlook on personal finance and strong optimism on job prospects. Advanced Construction Technology Services (ACTS), 2012 UAE’s construction sector is seeing steady recovery after the slowdown in recent years.

The World Expo is always a unique event which brings socio-economic interaction and prosperity to the world and especially to host country. It has been one of the ideal podiums for achieving global recovery, and harmony through gathering world’s brilliant ideas and sharing experiences of sustainable development and qualitative life. It has always been one of the simplest ways for new innovations and improvements in existing technologies. It has also been game changer for social interaction, communication strategies, role of the media and the human diversity. It carries the importance of culture diversity and social transformation. It creates more jobs. It speeds up commercial activities. It seeks more inflows of FDIs. Most importantly, it projects the soft power image.

All above given international reports, official figures and different rankings are the global acknowledgements for the immense socio-economic growth of the UAE. It puts UAE in a comfortable position to host World EXPO 2020. Its fiscal surplus, strategic location, easy availability of the supportive actors of production and services are there to make World EXPO 2020 happen in Dubai.

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