DUBAI Expo 2020 – What Is It And Why Should We Care?

Introduction To The Expo 2020

On 27th November 2013, Dubai became the first Arab country to be chosen to host the world’s biggest exposition, winning a resounding 116 out of a total 167 votes at the 154th Bureau International des Expositions’ (BIE) General Assembly in Paris. Almost immediately after the announcement was aired, car horns and fireworks could be heard echoing through the streets of Dubai and most clearly in the direction of the famous Burj Al Arab Hotel and surrounding Jumeirah road area.

Anyone who has visited or lived in Dubai over the last few years will undoubtedly have been caught up in the hype surrounding the Dubai Expo 2020. If not, they must have had their heads well and truly buried in the sand (excuse the pun!). For many months leading up to this announcement, radio and television advertisements, billboards along Sheikh Zayed Road, social media platforms etc have all been gearing up for this historic day. Anywhere you went in Dubai, it was almost impossible not to see the now famous blue and white Expo 2020 logo. Similar levels of marketing were also carried out in various countries worldwide, with many of my friends and family back in the UK also hearing about this so-called momentous decision.

But what exactly is the Expo? What is involved? Who participates in it? How will it affect us? All of these were questions I found myself asking and not being really sure of the answers despite the high level of hype and coverage surrounding this. For these reasons, I decided to delve into it a little deeper myself. Hopefully, this will help you too…

What Is An Expo & What Does It Involve?

The word “Expo” itself is short for “Exposition” and in the simplest terms, it can be described as a large public exhibition. It is a way of showcasing a particular nation to the world and promoting a country’s traditions by attracting millions of visitors to witness and take part in various exhibitions, pavilions and organised events. There is a certain chosen theme for each Expo (which must be of universal concern) and the idea is to bring people together to share innovations and to promote important economic, cultural and social issues. Vicente Gonzalez Loscertales, Secretary-General of the BIE, sums it up very clearly…

“An exhibition is a display which, whatever its title, has as its principal purpose the education of the public.”

The Expo takes place every 5 years and lasts for a period of up to 6 months. Cities bid for the right to host the event, much the same as the Olympics and FIFA World Cup. The Expo 2010 in Shanghai was a huge success and demonstrated the changes in the modernisation of the city. It well and truly put China in the forefront of peoples’ minds’ internationally with a staggering 73 million people having visited from 250 countries, and an estimated profit of around $157 million ( ! The most recent Expo took place this year (2015) in Milan, Italy under the theme “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”. The main focus was on sustainability, innovation and social issues regarding food production and consumption. It appears that Dubai has big shoes to fill…

History Of The Expo

The World Expo is one of the largest and oldest international events. It was first held in London back in 1851 under the name of the “Great Exhibition” with the aim of basically showing off the UK’s industrial and economic power. It was in this era of industrialisation that many of the modern day inventions debuted. The 1855 Expo in Paris saw the introduction of the washing machine, the sewing machine and the lawnmower. The 1875 Expo in Philadelphia introduced one of the world’s most important inventions – the telephone. The 1889 Expo even unveiled the Eiffel Tower, at that time the highest monument in the world. Other notable Expo debuts were given to film with sound, escalators, x-ray machines, IMAX cinemas, mobile phones, the largest aquarium in the world. The list goes on. Since then, the Expo has evolved immensely in stature. As Dubai already boasts an enormous aquarium in Dubai Mall as well as the current tallest building in the world – the Burj Khalifa – we are all eager to see what weird and wonderful innovations will be unveiled at the Dubai Expo 2020.

Where Will Dubai Expo 2020 Be Held & Who Participates In It?

The Expo 2020 will be held in a 438-hectare area on the edge of the new Dubai World Central Airport, just past Jebel Ali. It will have a capacity of 300,000 and will be conveniently situated close to the new Al Maktoum International Airport, allowing easy access from both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The site will also be easily reached by Dubai Metro.

It is expected that the Dubai Expo 2020 will attract around 25 million visitors, with over 70% being from overseas. Participants and visitors will come from many nations worldwide, representing many international organisations, companies, charities, individuals etc. There will be exhibitions, events and concerts. You name it, it will most likely be there. The size and scope of the event is quite frightening, even for Dubai.

What Effect Will It Have On Dubai As A Nation & Its Inhabitants?

Now that we have some sort of idea what the Expo actually is, you may ask yourself how this will affect you in the next few years and beyond the actual event in 2020. The Dubai Expo 2020 may be 4 years away but it seems that we are already seeing some of the effects of this decision. The Dubai real estate market has already seen some impact by this announcement, with the increase in property prices prior to 2014 being in part due to the hype surrounding this event. Of course, there are various other important factors involved. I will not delve into these now but please check out our previous article “The Dubai Property Market: What is Happening?” for a more detailed look at this.

It is anticipated that the Expo 2020 will boost tourism, with the number of hotel rooms expected to double by the time 2020 comes around. An estimated $5 billion is also going to be poured into other parts of the economy; including infrastructure, transport, logistics, retail and hospitality. The population of Dubai is expected to increase to 10 million by 2020, with over 277,000 new jobs being created along the way. (

With these increases in population and jobs will come in an increase in demand for housing, and in particular, affordable housing. This is likely lead to a resurgence in property prices over time, with investors again feeling more confident in the market. The Dubai property market is currently going through a much-documented correction period, with property prices having dropped quite considerably throughout the last year or more. Again, more information on this can be found in our previous article “The Dubai Property Market: What is Happening?” This is likely to continue throughout this year however it is almost inevitable that a surge will occur in the following few years leading up to the Expo 2020. This is certainly not without precedent. In the 12 months prior to hosting the 2010 Expo, Shanghai saw its real estate values rocket by as much as 68 percent (

It is clear that the successful Expo bid did result in some increased investment in the Dubai real estate market and indeed a rise in property prices. The good news is that it also likely to provide stability and sustainable growth for the market in the long run. Most experts agree that hosting the Expo 2020 will have a positive, long-term impact on Dubai’s economy. It is something to be optimistic about, not fearful of. What happens once the Expo 2020 is done and dusted remains to be seen but it appears that the authorities are looking well beyond 2020. This is, in fact, one of the main themes of the Dubai Expo 2020 – “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”.

So, Should We Be Excited About The Expo 2020?

Yes. The Expo 2020 is something that we should not only be excited about but we should be proud to be part of as well. Dubai has already come so far in its relatively short lifespan and the Expo 2020 will only serve as something further to look forward to in the rapid development of this diverse and cosmopolitan nation.

In 2014, Dubai recorded more than 13 million visitors. Dubai International Airport has taken over Heathrow as the world’s busiest airport in terms of visitors. With the introduction of the new Maktoum Airport within very close proximity to the Dubai Expo 2020 site, these numbers will increase dramatically. The country has become a dynamic hub for business and pleasure and is a strong link between the East and West. It boasts one of the fastest growing economies in the world. By 2020 and beyond, one can only imagine the heights that can be reached.

Hosting the Expo 2020 will put Dubai well and truly on the world map (if this has not already happened). It is something that we can all be part of. His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Dubai Airports, Chairman of Emirates Airlines and Chairman of the Dubai Expo 2020 Higher Committee, re-affirmed this when he said,

“This is a moment to be embraced and owned by the entire nation and beyond – this is your Expo. It is an Expo for the World. The vision of our bid has always been about more than just Dubai and the UAE. It has been about creating an opportunity for the wider region and developing a truly global platform to find the innovative solutions required to address the future of Mobility, Sustainability and Opportunity, that impact all of our futures.   Under the theme, ’Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, Dubai Expo 2020 will provide unprecedented opportunities for visitors, participants and for the member nations of the BIE.”

That is the very essence of the Dubai Expo 2020. It is about connecting people with new ideas and inspirations in order to build a better future for people both in the UAE and across the world.

Who would not want to part of this? Share this article and see what your network think.

Author: Philip Smith
Philip Smith, LL.B. (Hons.): Founder & Principal of Your POA – The Leading Power of Attorney Company in Dubai and the UAE

Experience the expertise of Philip Smith, the highly-regarded Founder and Principal of Your POA, the premier Power of Attorney company in Dubai and the UAE. Boasting an exceptional legal background, Philip has earned a reputation for his outstanding market knowledge, trustworthiness, and discretion. As an authoritative expert in UAE property matters, strategic advisory, and corporate services, he has advised a diverse range of high-profile clients, adeptly safeguarding their interests while accomplishing their individual objectives....

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