Expo 2020 Dubai is one of the most important international events in 2021. It was supposed to be held in October 2020 but got postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Expo 2020 Dubai will be held from 1 October 2021 to 31March 2022. More than 192 countries are expected to participate in the event, which will attract global attention. Expo 2020 Dubai will bring economic benefits to the UAE and become a driving force for local and global economies in the long term, especially for the financial, mobility, tourism, and logistics sectors. These benefits include:
1- Enhancing the UAE’s GDP: Expo 2020 Dubai will significantly boost the UAE’s non-oil economy. There are no official figures on the impact of Expo 2020 Dubai on the country’s economy, but there are estimates that the event will generate about USD 23 billion (24.4% of the current GDP in Dubai) between 2015 and 2021. It will also add nearly AED 122.6 billion from 2013 to 2031. Hosting the event enhanced economic growth in Dubai by an average of 6.4% annually from 2014 to 2016.
Expo 2020 Dubai will enrich the UAE’s economy by boosting the GDP. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects that Dubai’s economy will grow by 3.1% in 2021 after a shrinkage of 5.9% in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This anticipated growth is spurred by the Expo 2020 Dubai momentum in October, improved performance of non-oil sectors and increased preparations to host the event.
2- Increased UAE current account surplus: Fitch Ratings forecasted that Expo 2020 Dubai will increase the UAE’s current account surplus from 5.8% of GDP in 2020 to 7.7% of GDP in 2021, and 7.9% of GDP in 2022. Fitch’s forecast is based on the expectation of a gradual recovery in services and goods exports, as Expo 2020 Dubai drives a revival in the tourism sector and travel revenues.
3- Increasing investments in the UAE: Since the 2013 announcement that Expo 2020 would be hosted in Dubai and until 2031, the event is expected to add USD 33 billion in the total economy of the UAE. The UAE is known for its active, prosperous and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) attractive environment. It ranks first in the Arab region and holds an advanced global position in attracting foreign investment, thanks to its economic capabilities, state-of-the-art infrastructure, and logistics.
The UAE is a strategic trade hub that provides foreign investors an opportunity to enter regional markets and transfer money and profits amid effective legislation to protect foreign capital and a low customs tariff of between 0-5% on nearly all commodities. Expo 2020 Dubai will attract USD 100 billion and USD 150 billion of FDI through the financial, tourism, hospitality, real estate, and infrastructure sector.
The UAE has undertaken effective measures and legislation to remain an attractive hub, utilizing its political stability and attractive business environment. The UAE has recently allowed 100% of foreign ownership for local companies to encourage FDI. In this regard, Expo 2020 Dubai will be an opportunity for green investment in the UAE. The country is heavily investing in renewable energy, sustainability and green development. Expo 2020 Dubai will provide 50% of its energy needs from renewable energy sources through the first wide-scale application of integrated solar power systems.
4- Reviving employment: Expo 2020 Dubai will witness an increase in employment rates as well as an increase in the number of qualified labor. It is expected to provide more than 270,000 new job opportunities in the UAE. The construction sector will have the lion share of labor percentages. This directly impacts the country’s infrastructure.
Expo 2020 Dubai will generate between 50,000 and 90,000 full-time job opportunities between 2013 and 2031. The Expo 2020 Dubai management has already employed 30,000 volunteers out of 100,000 applicants. Half of those volunteers are Emiratis and others are from the UK, China, Pakistan, India and other countries. Job opportunities in the technology and sustainability sectors are also expected to rise, which enables employing highly skilled labor. This is an opportunity for companies and start-ups to employ the best international talent, as Expo 2020 Dubai will comprise top notch employees and laborers.
The increase in the number of employees within the construction sector indicates progress in providing the required capabilities for companies to grow and prosper, in addition to creating bigger and better opportunities for companies and commercial projects over the coming years.
5- Empowering small enterprises and projects: Expo 2020 Dubai will promote Dubai’s position as a global hub for commerce and investment while attracting global attention to Dubai and the UAE at large. Expo 2020 Dubai will provide the region with a unique opportunity to showcase this edge. As part of its support to small and medium enterprises, Expo 2020 Dubai is allocating 20% of direct and indirect expenses for them.
Expo 2020 Dubai has granted SMEs AED 5.12 billion worth of contracts as of October 2020. The number of registered companies with Expo 2020 Dubai has reached 46,000 companies from over 180 countries. SMEs constitute 54% of the total registered companies at Expo 2020 Dubai.
6- Main access to regional markets: Expo 2020 Dubai is a main access point for foreign investors to regional markets, as a main gate between the East and the West. It is providing access to more than 1.7 billion consumers in the Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan and India. There are about 26,000 suppliers currently registered representing 150 countries, aiming to work with Expo 2020 Dubai, 75% of which are SMEs. This boosts the SMEs sector in Dubai, and promotes innovation and entrepreneurship through the commitment of Expo 2020 Dubai organizers to allocate 20% of their total budget for SMEs.
7- Reviving tourism, travel and hospitality: Dubai hotels have witnessed a large growth in reservations as the Emirate was gearing up for the world-class, momentous event that is Expo 2020 Dubai. According to Wego, hotel bookings in Dubai have significantly increased ahead of the start of Expo 2020 Dubai. More than half a million searches and bookings in Dubai were recorded in July for the duration of Expo 2020 Dubai.
The tourism sector’s revival will start this year, thanks to Expo 2020 Dubai, which is expected to attract more than 25 million tourists over the next six months (from 1 October 2021 – 31 March 2022). Fitch Ratings forecasted that the number of tourists will increase by 38.8% year-on-year in 2021, rising from a decline of 69.6% in 2020. The tourism sector is also supported by the hosting country. Expo 2020 Dubai will be held over six months starting from 1 October 2021 with an expected turnout of 25 million tourists.
8- Supporting the construction and real estate sector: The real estate and infrastructure sectors remain attractive investments for their prices, payment plans and waiver of fees. Since its announcement, Expo 2020 Dubai has positively impacted the local real estate sector. Despite the pandemic and delay, this world-class event’s positive impact will exceed expectations. It is expected to bring in AED 27 billion for the construction sector from 2013 to 2031. This is in addition to huge investments in the state-of-the-art infrastructure, which will help Expo 2020 Dubai leave a legacy for the economy. District 2020, the area where Expo 2020 Dubai is being held, will preserve 80% of its infrastructure and will turn into a smart, integrated and human-centric city. It will also be a destination for tourists, companies and visitors. The district will become a global hub for innovation bringing together a diverse and large group of companies to drive different sectors and technologies of the future.
9- Becoming a regional hub for "Economies of the Future": Expo 2020 is expected to make the UAE a regional hub for emerging economic trends, which are called "Economies of the Future." These economies are knowledge-based, eco-friendly, and support innovation and the green economy. Expo 2020 Dubai will provide an important opportunity for companies interested in this kind of economy based on integrated dimensions, knowledge, innovation and sustainability, to localize this economic trend. This will make the country a regional beacon for pioneering economic trends in the future.
In conclusion, Expo 2020 Dubai is a springboard for technology, creativity, and innovation. It aims to attract and localize knowledge, and export new trends of services related to technology and creativity. Expo 2020 Dubai will also boost economic sectors, attract companies, tourists and countries to an unprecedented degree. Consequently, this will create new and huge opportunities for investment in the UAE and the region. It will also enhance communication between international, regional, and local companies and SMEs in the UAE and abroad. Expo 2020 Dubai will provide a real opportunity to empower SMEs, and support economic diversity in the UAE. This will achieve a sustainable economic model that consolidates the UAE’s position as a global destination for work, entertainment and investment.