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UAE’s Comparative Advantages and World Expo 202

Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

The UAE’s strategic position as a bridge between East and West, and North and South, provides a powerful platform for the world to come together and unlock the potential of the future. Dubai 2020 would be the first Expo to be held in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia region, giving these vibrant and dynamic economies access to unlimited new opportunities on the world stage. Keeping in view all the important socio-economic-politico indicators i.e. country risk, political risk, management risk, credit risk, economy and the last but not the least, ability to host it successfully, it appears that United Arab Emirates (UAE) is ahead in the race. It is inching towards its final official nomination by every passing day.

Emerging Socio-Economic and Geo-Political Trends of Candidate Countries

Comparative study of the candidate cities reveals that in real socio-economic-politico sense the UAE has the brightest chance for winning the World Expo 2020. One of the competing countries Brazil is currently confronting the massive public protests and processions in its many small and big cities. Levels of anger; frustration and agony are on the rise despite some cosmetic arrangements pledged by the Brazilian government. Moreover, miracle of BRICS is fading day by day. Russia, another important country’s macro-economy is not so stable and sustainable that is why its president has recently reshuffled his entire economic team. Turkey one of the most important countries in the race of hosting World Expo 2020 is now sieged with many Taskim square series which has already produced serious dints in its national economy. Rations of international tourists have been reduced due to poor law and order situation in the country. Moreover, since Turkey has been indulged with Kurds conflict for so many years due to which the chances of any deadly terrorist incident is imminent any time anywhere.

UAE gathers International Support

In his televised addressed to 3rd Annual Global Entrepreneurial Summit (GES) in Dubai, the US President Barack Obama highly appreciated the UAE leadership and its people to achieve high standard of development. French President also pledged his country support to UAE for hosting World Expo 2020 in Dubai. Even UK extended its support to vote for UAE in World Expo 2020. Admirations from the world leaders would helpful for Dubai to win the race of World Expo 2020 in the days to come. On the contrary, in recent times Turkey faced tough time from the EU especially from the Germany and France on the issue of its succession with EU. So, road from Ankara to Brussels to get support from the EU on the issue of World Expo 2020 has already been marginalized for Turkey.

UAE Sustainable Macro-Economic Indicators

On the other hand, UAE’s stable and sustainable macro-economic indicators, fiscal surplus, booming external accounts, high ratios of GDP, stable foreign currency reserves, booming exports ratios and above all qualitative infrastructures automatically makes it the most suitable country to host the World Expo 2020. Its country risk is zero. There is no fear of political uncertainty or social unrest in the country in short, medium or long term periods.

Final countdown begins. The country to host World Expo 2020 will be decided in November 2013. All the four candidate cities i.e. Dubai (UAE), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Yekaterinburg (Russia) and Izmir (Turkey) have already submitted their final presentations/proposals to Bureau International des Expositions (BIE). Thailand has been disqualified by the BIE.

Economic Parity

On economic fronts, the latest published report of the World Bank has ranked the UAE 28th worldwide among the largest economies of the world in terms of gross domestic product (GDP). According to the World Bank’s estimates, the UAE’s gross domestic product stood at US$360.25 billion (Dhs1.32 trillion), based on 2011. The A T Kearney Index report (2013) titled “Retail Trade Growth in 2013” has rated the UAE 5th which is again shows the strength of its sustained macro-economy. The World Economic Forum for Global Development (2011) awarded 5th position to the UAE for its financial stability in the standard index. It was also classified 25th among the best world financial systems. The UAE was also ranked first among the Arab countries and 19th globally in the Global Enabling Trade Report for 2012, issued by the World Economic Forum. All these reports of international agencies and institutions clearly uphold the strong indicators of UAE economy which is on the way of further prosperity, productivity and diversification.


The World Bank (October 2012) report titled “Doing Business Report for 2013” again rated the UAE first among the Arab countries and 26th globally out of 183 countries. Kuwaiti-based inter-Arab Investment Guarantee Corporation (IAIGC), a key Arab League organisation recently classified UAE among the top 10 countries in the field for efficient import and export procedures and physical security. It has also been on the ideal destination of FDIs.

According to international FDI magazine (2013), foreign investors pumped nearly $9.6 billion capital in the UAE in 2012 allowing the country to maintain its position as the second largest Arab recipient of foreign director investment (FDI) after Saudi Arabia. Moreover, according to Mercer the UAE is the world’s 7th most popular destination for international assignments. And the last but not the least, Brand Finance, an independent intangible assets and brand valuation consultancy said that the UAE has 15 brands out of the top 50 brands in Mena region in 2013, with a brand value touching $14.48 billion. According to the study, the value of UAE brands constitutes 37 per cent of the total value of $39.33 billion of the top 50 Mena brands. The comparative study of these reports and figures strongly indicate the healthy and progressive nature of the UAE economy which has rightly projected it as the most ideal country for hosting World Expo 2020.

No Geographic/Natural Hazards

The country is also well prepared against any unseen threats from the nature. UAE is one the ideal destination of international tourism. Official data shows that more than 60 million people travel through the emirate in 2012 while 10 million visit the city of Dubai every year due to a world-class airport and a global airline.

Expertise of International Expos

It has become hub of all kinds of regional and international expos, conferences, seminars and exhibitions. Successful holding of 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, for World Expo 2020 are the prime example of its preparedness.

World Class Hoteliers

Its infrastructure has comparative advantage on other competitors. Its hoteliers have international standards of accommodation and hospitality. According to World Travel and Tourism Council report (2013) the UAE’s hospitality market is geared up to record 67 per cent growth in revenue to US$7.5 billion by 2016 up from US$4.5 billion in 2011. 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. Furthermore, the report says that the UAE accounts for 41 per cent of total investment in the travel and tourism sector in the Middle East. The UAE now has more hotels per head of population than any other country in the world. 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.

Dubai Airport Free Zone Stands Tall

Dubai Airport Free Zone (Dafza) has once again been awarded the title of the top Middle East Free Zone of the future 2013-14 by the Foreign Direct Investment (fDi) magazine in its biannual ranking. It is the third time in sequence that Dafza has been named the fDi’s Middle East Free Zone of the Future including the years 2011, 2012 and 2013. It is hoped that this international recognition has further boosted the Dubai’s ability to win the bid of hosting the Expo 2020.

IMF Latest Report (2013)

The comprehensive report of the IMF (2013) pertaining to the assessment of candidate states financial and economic performance cited the positive indicators of the UAE’s overall economy. The delegation projected a GDP growth rate of 3.6 per cent for the UAE in 2013, which is a result of integrated economic activities geared by investments, trade, tourism and logistics support. The GDP is expected to rise to 3.7 per cent in 2014 and 3.8 per cent in 2015. UAE accounts for 1.3 per cent of global trade, a higher percentage than much larger, more populous countries such as Egypt, Malaysia, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Turkey again highlights its claims for hosting World Expo 2020.

Regional & International Recognitions Details
Future Brand’s Country Brand Index 2012-13 It is identified as the “world’s leading future country brand.
Quality of Life It ranks on top in the Middle East and North Africa in terms of quality of life.
Business Environment It ranks 13th worldwide, ahead of France, Spain and Italy.
Investment Climate It rates 7th worldwide, ahead of the US and all Scandinavian countries
job opportunity, It projects 4th in the world ahead of traditional job Eldorados such as the US and Australia.
Top Tourism Brands The world’s Top 25 tourism brands, it has some of the best global reputations in terms of lodging and resorts, attractions and “value-for-money” services.
Source: Different Regional & International organisations reports (2011-2013)

Land of Diversified Cultures

Moreover, it is the land of more than 200 diversified nationalities and cultures. It has become the convergence point of tolerance and peace which has enhanced the sense of better understanding towards others. Simply humanity is serviced with submission and dignity. There is not a single incident of racial or societal discrimination. Everyone is free to practice religion. Everyone enjoys liberty. It is one of the ideal countries for regional and international workers. So, it is the ideal land for connecting minds and globe peace.

Renewable Drive

Its robust development on the fronts of alternative and renewables has made it one of the most environment countries in the world. It has concrete policies of food and water security too. Its diversification drive of economy, rigorous industrialization, SME, re-exports and Islamic economy are its main pillar for the future which would be useful in its pursuits for winning the bid of World Expo 2020.

It is hoped that Dubai Expo 2020 would be the most international world expo in the 169 year history of the event. The World Expo is one of the largest global, non-commercial events in terms of economic and cultural impact, after the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games.

It is estimated that UAE’s unmatched infrastructure, strategic geographic positioning and global connectivity, World Expo 2020 in Dubai will attract an estimated 25 million visitors. 70 per cent of these attendees would come from outside the country the first time in world expo history that a majority of visitors originate from outside the host nation. If Dubai wins the bid to host the World Expo 2020, it will not only be beneficial to the UAE, but for the entire Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MENASA) region, leaving lasting economic impact.

Socio-Economic Comparative Advantages

Dubai the financial hub of the capital has all the financial resources to host the world expo 2020. 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 acknowledgments 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.

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.

Again, the 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. All these regional and international reports and data show that the UAE and Dubai is fully competent to host the World Expo 2020 with full of comfort.

Integrated Socio-Economic Benefits

Oxford Economics report (March, 2013) says that the total economic output across the Dubai economy would amount to about Dhs141.9 billion and create over 277,000 jobs between 2013 and 2021. It further elaborates that for every expo employee approximately 50 additional jobs will be sustained across the Middle East, North Africa and the Indian subcontinent. Dubai in particular and the UAE in general are expected to reap a good amount of economic benefit if Dubai wins the Expo 2020 bid. A total of 77,149 jobs would be created between 2013-2021. 40 per cent of which would be within the travel and tourism sector. The report estimates that 90 per cent of the projected 277,000 employment opportunities would occur from 2018 to 2021 with the ramp up to Expo 2020 and the demand generated by the 25 million expected visitors. Of the 90 per cent, 147,000 jobs would be created in the travel and tourism sector, indicating the significant potential to convert a high percentage into permanent jobs to serve the expanded economy in the post-Expo period. The report demonstrates the positive impact for the wider region showing that for every Expo employee approximately 60 additional jobs will be sustained across other parts of the Mena economy. It is estimated that the six-month event generated $12 billion revenue and recorded $158 million profit. Moreover, according to Expo 2020 organisers the World Expo 2020 would expect to contribute an increase of €28.8 billion to Dubai’s GDP and €17.7 billion (Dh86.2 billion) in added value to its economy.

Boost for Ports and Logistics Operations

World Expo 2020, if held in Dubai, is expected to boost the trade, logistics and ports operations across the UAE, especially Jebel Ali port the Middle East’s largest entre port for commodities. By 2020, Jebel Ali, the southern part of Dubai, will become more vibrant with busy take-off and landing schedule of airlines at the Dubai World Central the 140-sq kilometre airport city that will host Al Maktoum International Airport, the world’s biggest greenfield airport development. Hopefully it will effectively create one of the world’s largest sea-to-air cargo corridor that will offer exhibitors at the Expo 2020 seamless supply of goods and services.

Trade electronic portal

The Dubai Trade electronic portal would be a remarkable entity creating one seamless offering to make life easier for business during Dubai Expo 2020. It would integrate more than 800 e-services of DP World, Economic Zones World, Dubai Customs and Dubai Multi Commodities Centre, in addition to several leading banks. More than 70,000 companies in the trade and logistics sector are now plugged into the system, conducting nearly 15 million online transactions in 2012 a growth rate of 21 per cent over 2011. It undoubtedly projects the Dubai’s position as the ideal base for trading across borders with its unique geographical position, excellent infrastructure and seamless processes across private sector and Government agencies. Along with ports and logistics, other support services providers will also have a great role to ensure business runs smoothly.

Contribution to Private Sector

It is hoped that the World Expo 2020, in Dubai will be a major boost for the private sector. The site, which is integral to the city’s wider urban development strategy, will be adjacent to the new Al Maktoum Airport in a previously undeveloped area. The area, known as Dubai Trade Centre Jebel Ali, will be a concrete interpretation of “aerotropolis” a city integrating with its airport to develop new services and, as it is previously undeveloped, will not require any displacement of people, businesses or infrastructure. Dubai is ready to invest as much as US$4 billion to build the infrastructure for the prestigious event.

The economic impact of the World Expo 2020 (Dubai) will be a real qualitative jump and direct benefit for SMEs. It will be a big opportunity for SMEs to offer their services in logistics like transport, printing and utilities. Winning the Expo bid will give SMEs, which make up 95 per cent of the UAE’s businesses, more global reach and solid reputation.

The industrial sector would also be benefited and would provide the machinery and mechanical equipment, transport equipment and parts, base metal, chemicals, food and beverages and mineral products to the needs and preparations for Expo 2020.

Dubai’s Strengths

The City of London Corporation has said that Dubai is challenging London’s dominant position as a global hub to emerging and high growth markets. More than its infrastructural facilities, Dubai has the capabilities and has a strong case as the emirate is a safe and secure place to live and holds good experience in organizing and hosting world-class events such World Expo 2020. Its marvelous infrastructure development, use of latest technologies, financial strength, strategic location, comparative advantages and above all leadership commitment towards revolutionizing emirate has made it the most ideal country for winning World Expo 2020.

Dubai as the gateway to Africa, Asia and Europe, and a nexus for cross-border discussions, it can offer a diverse, exciting and international profile for visitors and participants alike. It is a city that brings people together, one that provides a perfect multicultural platform for the world’s most brilliant ideas, and so it seems like a natural fit. It strengths are numerous and the city is well prepared to host such a prestigious global event. Now it has become hub of logistics and trade boasting the world’s third-ranking airport by number of passengers, with about 58 million passengers in 2012 going through Dubai International Airport in 2012. Unlike other countries in the race of a World Expo to build new infrastructure such as airports, ports, rails and road transport systems, Dubai and the UAE are already a step ahead.

The Dubai Expo 2020 will be a celebration of innovative partnerships for global progress. 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.

World Expo 2020 presents a tremendous opportunity for the UAE and Dubai to showcase its geographic positioning and access to the world’s fastest growing markets. It has unequivocal as the world’s third largest re-export market and nine world class seaports, including the flagship port of Jebel Ali, ranked as the largest container terminal between Rotterdam and Singapore which would create comparative advantage in its favour in case of World Expo 2020.

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 4th busiest airport in terms of international passenger traffic, currently serves more than 150 airlines flying to over 220 destinations across six continents.

A special research study (2013) indicated 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, 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.

As roads are built, rail connected and efficient sea and airports established, people, the goods they produce, and the services they provide are given access to opportunities to connect locally and globally, trade prospers. Dubai is 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 easily accessible to one third of the world’s population in a four hour-flight, and two thirds within eight hours. It successfully handles approximately a third of all container volumes in the Middle East. Jebel Ali also serves a wider region of some 2 billion people in the GCC, Subcontinent, north and east Africa, and even as far as West Africa, supporting the growth and development of trade and their economies.

Proposed Site

The 438-hectare ‘Dubai Trade Centre Jebel Ali’ is one of the largest sites proposed for a World Expo and one of the most seamlessly accessible: a custom bonded Sea-Air logistics corridor that will allow rapid transit of people from airports and ports in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

It is situated next to the new Dubai World Central which home to Al Maktoum International Airport, and is equidistant between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The site, spanning 438 hectares, has been designed as a physical manifestation of Expo’s theme, and is located adjacent to Jebel Ali Port, Port, providing easy access to the 25 million international and local visitors expected. Dubai International and DWC-Al-Maktoum International are best geared to handle the expo traffic in 2020. Dubai International, for instance, will be the world’s busiest airport by 2020 in terms of passenger throughput.

It site master plan is 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.

Renewables Initiatives

UAE and Dubai has showed its commitment to making the UAE a pioneer in the green renewables and to preserving a sustainable environment that supports long-term economic growth. Both the bid to host Expo 2020 and the master plan for the proposed Expo site have been designed in line of environment friendly doctrine. Each aspect of environmental impact energy, water, waste, materials, public realm and sustainability awareness has been mentioned in the master plan, and formulated in accordance with international best practice.

Renewables Initiatives Details
Expo Site Energy Needs It will be generated from the renewable sources. It includes Dubai Expo 2020 ‘solar-centric’ by integrating photovoltaic panels throughout the site, in building facades, shading structures and street lighting and encouraging participants to integrate the panels into their own pavilion designs.
Three Pronged Strategy Optimal utility of water, reduced demand, efficient use and re-use. Use of indigenous plant species within the landscape design and using Treated Sewage Effluent for district cooling and irrigation.
Waste Management It will bring catalyze change in the waste management practices within the region, ensuring that not only does Expo 2020 limit its own contribution to landfill, it also creates a standard that other development projects and companies aim to match.
Reduction of foot-notes Use of the advancements in sustainable transport systems. It is conceived that it will be largely a car-free site, with park-and-ride facilities and the ‘ExpoRider’ bus service acting as the main forms of transportation. The Dubai Metro Red Line will be extended to service the site and the master plan also includes a cable-car system which will enable visitors to circumnavigate the entire site.
Re-Usage & Relocation The re-use of Expo assets is of fundamental importance and a core aspect of legacy plans. It is intended that anchor structures such as the Welcome Pavilion, the Innovation Pavilion, the UAE Pavilion and the Theme Pavilions will be reconfigured and re-used once the event is concluded as will shade structures, transport systems, trees, street furniture, lighting and paving materials.
Use of recycled and local materials Sustainability will not only be brought to life through the environment created and the experiences delivered throughout the Expo period, but also it will be part of the fabric of the site itself.
Transformation Expo Site itself will transform into the planned urban development at The Dubai Trade Centre-Jebel Ali. It include an Institute zone featuring Research Centres and a University which will be created out of the Innovation Pavilion and the Theme Pavilions and will nurture long-term thought leadership across the three subthemes of Mobility, Sustainability and Opportunity. The UAE National Pavilion and Welcome Pavilion will be relocated and transformed into a National Museum that celebrates the history of the UAE as well as being a lasting testimonial to Dubai Expo 2020.
Source: Different leading UAE English Newspapers (2012-2013)

As per Sheikh Mohammed’s direction, and as part of the unveiling, Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, wife of Sheikh Mohammed, highlighted, under the bid’s overarching theme, “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”, the importance of partnerships and what will be the foundation and the legacy of Dubai Expo 2020.

Most recently, in Paris, the UAE presented its outstanding bid for World Expo 2020. The UAE also announced a €150 million (Dh726 million) aid package to support the developing countries’ participation at the Expo 2020 in addition to the €100 million Partnership Fund to support innovative ideas for creating opportunities, mobility and sustainability as part of Dubai’s bid. In the presentation by Princess Haya Bint Al Hussain, wife of Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid, the UAE announced a key initiative, Expo Live, which includes funds to ensure greater participation and aid innovation. BIE officials were full of praise for Dubai’s presentation.

Dubai government is using all possible means to win the support to host World Expo 2020. It has been engaged with different coordinated efforts and meetings to raise awareness of its strong credentials. Social media is effectively engaged to promote Dubai’s main characteristics throughout the world. Even, the Chairman of Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) announced that the organisation is supporting the UAE’s bid.

Comparative study of Candidate Cities

1. United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Country City Expo Theme
United Arab Emirates Dubai Connecting minds, creating the future

United Arab Emirates (UAE) has seven emirates and Abu Dhabi is its capital. According to official figures it has approximately population of 2 million people. Dubai is the financial hub of the UAE which attracts high ratios of foreign direct investments (FDIs). It is also hub of innovations, modern technologies and tourism. It is known for signature building projects like Burj Al Arab and the Palm Jumeirah Island, to Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. Dubai is not just tallest buildings. It is more than that, offering lots of amazing opportunities for all.

Dubai claims that it is an ideally place which is also strategically located for hosting World Expo 2020. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and the Ruler of Dubai said “We would be able to do it. We would be honoured to do it.”

1. UAE: Basic Characteristics

According to official figures, it has 83,600 sq km and is 115th in world. Its total population is 7.9 million and stands at 116th in the world. Life expectancy is 76.71 years. It is the second largest economy in the region and has GDP per capita $47,700, 12th globally.

(a). Potentials

The comparative study reveals that Dubai is the ideal city to host the World Expo 2020. It is even endorsed by Urso Chappell, founder of by saying “definitely one of the serious candidates” for 2020. Connecting people, as Dubai’s impressive bid highlights, “lies at the heart of the UAE’s vision as a cosmopolitan nation he added. He is of the view that by connecting minds, our common aspirations are celebrated and together we can work to create a brighter future”.

UAE is the wealthiest country in terms of per capita GDP $47,700. Russia is at $16,700 being the nearest rival. It has even better life expectancy as compare to other competing countries/cities. It has no match even in the levels of happiness and prosperity indexes to other countries/cities for hosting World Expo 2020.

Dubai with outstanding and sustainable socio-economic development for the last forty years has made it ideal destination/city of hosting World Expo 2020. It has been experiencing rich expertise of hosting world class events, summits, expos, exhibitions and conferences. It announced to develop a 438 hectare site at Dubai Trade Centre Jebel Ali, halfway between the city and Abu Dhabi. It seems that the city is “logistically ready to host a World Expo”. It is an ideal destination of the global tourism where 80 percent of the world’s population could reach less than 8 hours. By 2015, Dubai International Airport is expected to be the busiest in the world and the new Al Maktoum Airport, next to the proposed Expo site, will be able to handle 160 million passengers a year.

Last but not the least, its proposed date of hosting World Expo 2020 would be more convenient to tourists, businessmen and all the participants due to friendly weather in the city. Being the latest status of decent living city of the world, hub of financial services, leader in renewable energies, ideal destination for all the famous brands/multinational companies, and the last but not the least rich experience of hosting various international expos, exhibitions, summits and conference would go in its favour long way to win the race and host World Expo 2020.

2. Turkey

Country City Expo Theme
Turkey Izmir New routes to a better world, health for all

(2). Turkey: Basic Characteristics

It has size of 783,562 sq km, 37th in the world. It consists of 75.7 million, 17th globally. Its life expectancy is 72.77 years, ranked 125th. It has GDP per capita $14,400, 88th in the world. By judging its main characteristics, Izmir is probably Dubai’s most serious rival to host Expo 2020. Its ongoing power struggle in the region would be fatal for it. Izmir was in the running to host Expo 2015, a race it lost by a narrow margin to Milan. Its continued power struggle with Kurds, Syria and disputes with many regional countries would lessen its chances to some extend in hosting the World Expo 2020. Proposed dates: April 30 to October 31, 2020. More ongoing political uncertainty and widespread social unrest would create doubts in the minds of the BIE.

According to Turkish official figures, it has population of 2.78 million. The city formerly known as Smyrna is famous for rebuilt by Alexander the Great.

The Turkish authorities say “The theme, which includes the healthy living concept, is based on a very strong content to catch attention and global participation. For the first time at the East of the Mediterranean, this Expo organisation is very important for us because it will strengthen peace and raise life expectancy of the people living in this area.”

3. Russia

Country City Expo Theme
Russia Ekaterinburg The global mind

According to an official figure, it has population of 1.35 million. It is known for The Tsar and his family was murdered here by the Bolsheviks in 1918. They claim “Ekaterinburg Expo 2020 shall be an excellent opportunity to demonstrate innovatively, technologically and scientifically advanced Russia engaging foreign partners to a mutual conversation on issues mentioned.”

3. Russia: Basic Characteristics

It has 17.09 million sq km area and 1st in world. It has population of 142.5 million, and stands 9th in the world. Its life expectancy is 66.46 years which ranks 164th globally. It has GDP per capita $16,700, at72nd globally.

Ekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth-largest city is 1,430km east of Moscow. It is situated on the dividing line between Europe and Asia. If successful, it would be the first Expo hosted by Russia. More important, perhaps, the bid makes a case for opening up to the world the vast and lesser-known tracts of the country in and beyond the Ural Mountains. It has ambitious objective, “to engage the world in an open dialogue about our shared future and help to enhance the transformation of Russia towards a more open and expressive society”.

Comparative study shows that Russia has weak, less attractive or less convincing theme, i.e. the Global Mind. It does not convey its strength and clarity to larger world. It does not portray its real values of hopes, dreams and aspirations to the world. Its proposed dates May 1 to October 31, 2020 which would not be so friendly weather would also be not easy for the tourists to visit. Sensitive issues of human rights, corruption, transparency, political freedom and hot pursuits of power politics would act against its chances to host World Expo 2020. Macro-economy is not in good shape and corruption is on the rise.

4. Brazil

Country City Expo Theme
Brazil Sao Paulo Power of diversity, harmony for growth

According to official figures, it has population of 11.31 million. It is one of the main emerging economies in the world. The city is famous for financial capital of Brazil. It is the 10th richest city in the world.

They project “In the upcoming years, we are going to host the World Cup and the Olympic Games. In 2020, Brazil and Sao Paulo will be well prepared for hosting this big event. All levels of government will work together to honour this tradition of great shows.”

4. Brazil: Basic Characteristics

According to Brazilian government’s figures, it has 8.51 million sq km area and 5th in the world. It has population of 194 million. Its life expectancy is 72.79 years, 124th in the world. It has GDP per capita $11,800, stands 102nd globally.

Like UAE, Dubai it has also a long record of hosting major events. Its previous unsuccessful bids could not the good for its bid to host World Expo 2020. If it is sanctioned to host World Expo 2020, it will be staged after Brazil’s 2014 football World Cup and 2016 summer Olympics. In case of World Expo 2020 to be held in Brazil, there would be lesser interests left for the tourists, businessmen and people alike to revisit the same country time and again.

It has plan of a 502 hectare exhibition site with hotels, malls and a major conference centre, and new roads, railways, airport and “digital highway” infrastructure. It’s important socio-economic credentials are not matched with the World Expo 2020. It would only consolidate Sao Paulo’s leadership role in the internationalization of the Brazilian economy. Proposed dates: May 15 to November 15, 2020. Its economic domination and other trade issues with other countries would not be good of it. Ongoing horrible anti-government protests show its socio-politico vulnerability.

Gigantic Efforts

Different rounds 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.

Importance of World Expo

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 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.

Concluding Remarks

United Arab Emirates has had been one of the main platforms of human interaction, integration of economies, connecting minds and generating of new ideas throughout the history. It has had been also easiest way of culture promotion, tourism development, and many regional and international conferences and expos have already been held in the UAE.

UAE is the home of more than 200 nationalities where peoples live united and enjoy other cultures from across the globe every day. That is why it is believed that Dubai is the perfect city to host the 2020 World Expo.

Since it is a mega project due to which Dubai will spend between US$2 billion (Dh7.35 billion) and US$4 billion on infrastructure if it manages to secure the bid for the 2020 World Expo. It is a global, non-commercial exposition (six-month event (January 4 to June 30, 2020). The Expo is intended to promote exchanges of ideas and development of the world economy, culture, science and technology, to allow exhibitors to display their achievements and improve international relationships.

It is hoped that under the theme “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future,” the 2020 World Expo in Dubai will serve as a “global hub for ideas and a springboard for creativity. UAE and Dubai has state-of-the art infrastructure in terms of airports, airlines, marketing companies, soft image companies, vibrant media and so many potential businessmen and investors which will work to its advantage in terms of lowering the overall cost. It is hoped that by connecting people, which upholds the UAE strategic vision as a cosmopolitan nation, UAE can foster greater cooperation and understanding between people and cultures. “By connecting minds, UAE will celebrate global common aspirations and work to create a brighter future.

It has multiplier socio-economic benefits. It is also a project which forms a part of the strategic development plan of a city which will continue to transform that city afterwards. It would increase the facilities such as creating jobs and also resulting in better quality of life for its citizens. It is hoped that the UAE’s bid for the 2020 World Expo, if met with success, could translate into huge gains for the country’s tourism and hospitality sector. The travel and tourism sector, especially, is optimistic about the UAE winning the Expo bid as it could open a huge investment gateway for the sector. Service sector in the UAE will be gaining huge benefits from the 2020 Expo. It would be a great achievement for the entire region, and the whole services industry stands to benefit from the event if it takes place in the UAE. It would put the country on a global map.

Expos exhibitions and fairs tend to provide greater platform of investments, employment generation and joint ventures. It enhances better understanding of different cultures and promotes global harmony. It accelerates economic growth and social integration. It enhances the operational abilities of service sector. It supports hotel industry, public relation industry and even media.

UAE has highest chances to be selected depending upon its macro-economic stability, production base diversity, advanced infrastructure, vibrant service sector, hospitalized hotelier, generous nature of its people and above all epicenter of more than 193 nationalities in its country.

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