When the United Arab Emirates won the bid to host the World Expo 2020, a shift occurred within the country and the entire GCC. Indeed, this historic win signified a change in how the UAE and its seven emirates do business, particularly in the city-state, Dubai.

Dubai’s theme for the Expo 2020, “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future,” is aptly coined as “business as usual” no longer applies.

Expo 2020 Dubai represents new economic development for the emirate state, the UAE, and the Middle East as a whole. In terms of economic and cultural impact, the World Expo sits third behind the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup, respectively.

Occurring only once every five years, a World Expo such as Expo 2020 Dubai generates considerable anticipation and excitement. According to estimates by organisers of the expo, more than 25 million visitors are expected to stream into the City of Gold for Expo 2020 Dubai. These figures do not account for the exhibitors from more than 180 nations also making an appearance.

Since the announcement of Dubai’s successful bid in 2013, extensive redevelopment and expansion have occurred throughout Dubai. Middle East law firms have been instrumental in navigating this new global economic landscape to ensure companies looking to establish their presence in the Gulf Coast are prepared ahead of Expo 2020 Dubai.

Al Tamimi & Company examines how this prestigious event will provide Dubai significant economic uplift and forever change the city-state’s economic landscape.

1. Dubai 2020 will generate new business opportunities

Dubai 2020 offers historical significance to the emirate and the UAE as a whole. The six-month expo is the first large-scale international event to be hosted in the Gulf Coast region and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. No previous international event holds as much magnitude as the World Expo.

Since winning the right to host the next world expo, Dubai has made considerable investments throughout the land. These investments have injected a new business growth cycle for Dubai. The six-month expo has already started accelerating big infrastructure projects.

Many private and public sectors have announced they will fast-track ongoing redevelopment and expansion projects ahead of this high-caliber exhibition.

One only needs to look at Expo 2010, hosted by Shanghai, to understand the impact a world expo can have on the host city’s business landscape.

Declared a great success, Shanghai Expo 2010 attracted over 70 million visitors. It also transformed the city, providing an infrastructure boom and fueling the city’s tourism and hospitality sectors. As a Bloomberg report highlighted, across its long-lasting legacy, Shanghai Expo 2010 generated more than 80 billion yuan ($13 billion) for Shanghai and its neighbouring cities in business.

Dubai 2020 is expected to generate similar economic rewards. And these economic benefits extend far greater than immediate monetary relief.

2. It will yield economic benefits

Dubai Expo 2020 is expected to be a catalyst for economic change in Dubai. In a statement from the Expo 2020 Executive Body, Dubai 2020 is estimated to raise the overall GDP of the country, yielding AED89 billion ($24.2 billion) through various economic activities in numerous sectors.

The gathering of the world’s nations to showcase innovation and progress will have a positive economic impact across many sectors of business, from enterprising corporations to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Even with Dubai 2020 on the horizon, the successful bid announcement alone drove positive economic perceptions and lifted business confidence.

The gravitas of a world expo is making Dubai increasingly attractive once again to foreign investors and sustainable business development. New economic prospects brought on by Dubai 2020 are occurring across numerous sectors and industries in Dubai.

The key beneficiaries of Dubai 2020 include foreign investment opportunities, economic diversification, job creation, tourism and hospitality, and major attractions (both present and emerging). In foreign investment opportunities alone, the attraction of a world expo is expected to bring in between $100 to $150 billion in Dubai and across the UAE.

3. It will create jobs

Despite Dubai being considered as a leading business hub, challenging economic conditions have led to stagnation in Dubai’s job market in recent years. Dubai 2020 is expected to drastically improve job prospects. More doors to foreign investments and collaboration opportunities are predicted to create nearly 300,000 new jobs in Dubai and throughout the UAE.

An economic impact report by the Dubai government estimates that between 2018 and 2020, nearly all job opportunities will be directly linked to the lead up to the expo.

The key sectors estimated to generate new jobs in the employment market are as follows:

  • Travel and Tourism
  • Hospitality
  • Aviation
  • Real Estate
  • Transportation
  • Engineering
  • Retail
  • Logistics

Other related industries such as manufacturing, media, and the arts are also expected to gain favourable growth opportunities.

Such a large-scale international event will also require a network of volunteers. Dubai 2020 is expected to launch close to 30,000 volunteering opportunities over 45 volunteering roles to facilitate a successful event. These opportunities are a boon for young graduates looking for a way to gain experience during one of the world’s largest events.

Dubai’s Ministry of Youth is also contributing by introducing an apprenticeship program to run concurrently with Expo 2020. The program looks to provide Emirati youth job training opportunities that will serve as a stepping stone towards a progressive career across many economic sectors.

Dubai 2020: An impactful economic catalyst

Much like a world expo, Dubai represents progress, innovation, and collaboration. With its theme of “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future,” Dubai is poised to experience a range of positive effects throughout central points in Dubai economy.

While long-term gains are yet to be determined, history has been kind to host nations of previous world expos. Indeed, economic change can already be seen throughout Dubai as infrastructure projects flourish and business demand experiences positive growth.

Throughout the six months of the event and the years following it, doors of opportunity will arise for both large-scale sectors and SMEs.

Expo 2020 is a leap forward for Dubai. Not only will it lead to reshaping the way the city and the country as a whole does business, but it will also encourage investments into the MENA region. By bringing international markets closer through Dubai 2020, businesses in Dubai can extend their reach throughout the rest of the UAE and the Gulf Coast.