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It'll be a long time coming, but you can be sure that Dubai's successful bid to host the 2020 World Expo will be making news for the next 5 or 6 years...and for a long long time after that too!
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In late 2013 came a not entirely unexpected announcement that Dubai would be hosting the 2020 World Expo. These Expos are held every five years, and are celebrated for attracting millions of visitors who are able to explore hundreds of exhibitions, cultural events, and pavilions all run by the various participating countries and international organisations.

The announcements of the win were quite correctly met with unbridalled euphoria in Dubai itself, with the people of Dubai given yet another chance to display their pride in their Emirate.

It's a pride which we can all easily understand. Where else in the world can you encounter a development of a nation in the way that Dubai has deveIoped. It already has world class tourist, entertainment, and business facilities. The Expo win is set to move Dubai even higher into the global pecking order, both immediately and increasingly over the next few years.

This page is dedicated to the Dubai World Expo 2020. On this page we'll be looking at just what it does mean for the Emirate and its residents - and of course for those millions of visitors who will flock there in the run up to, and during, the Expo itself.

There's a lot to cover, and by the end of 2020 we should have a collection of information here that can be used:

•  In the build up to the Expo to get latest news and developments
•  During the Expo to gain information on events and travel news
•  After the Expo, as a lasting testimonial to a world event that promises to be among the best ever seen

In order to truly understand what it means for Dubai to be hosting The World Expo in 2020, a little history on The Expo is in order.

A Potted History Of The World Expo

The first “Expo”, aptly titled “Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations”,  was the brainchild of Prince Albert in 1851 London. It was held in The Crystal Palace in Hyde park, being the first ever international exhibition of manufactured products.

28 countries took part, with Great Britain of course taking centre stage to show the world the achievements and delights of Victorian England.

The Crystal Palace itself - purpose built for the Exhibition - was at the time an unrivalled masterpiece of technological and architectural design. 169 years later comes the promise for Dubai to unveil its own wonders of design to the world.

This initial exchanging of international ideas in England would lead to many influential Expos promoting the exchange of ideas on, including but not limited to, science, technology, culture, and the world economy. Each Expo featuring its own outstanding central architecture - the Eiffel Tower In Paris being a shining example.

From education to tourism, every five years, The World Expo continues to influence international relations and the economy of its hosting nation.

Created by participating countries, national pavilions are the main attractions at The World Expo. Showcasing the strengths each country brings to the table, past Expos have given birth to some very memorable pavilions.  1937 Paris saw the pavilions of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union stand face to face. In 1962 Seattle, The Expo gave us the now famous Space Needle.

Dubai's Win To Host The World Expo

So with Dubai’s rapidly growing infrastructure and influence, it’s no surprise that in 2013 at the 154th BIE General Assembly in Paris, the United Arab Emirate received 116 votes out of a total 165, taking the bid to host the 2020 World Expo.

Over the past few decades under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai has been hard at work developing a world class infrastructure that includes the best hotels in the world and an efficient public transportation system.

But Why Dubai?

In determining who is best placed to host a World Expo, the BIE would need to examine a number of factors. For Dubai and the UAE, it's obvious that they would be logistically capable of hosting the event. With around 60% of the world's population living within 8 hours flying time of the UAE, there could not be a better positioned venue.

Dubai already has the infrastructure in place to handle close to 10 million visitors per year, and there are multiple initiatives in place to enable this figure to be vastly exceeded. The transport system has undergone considerable improvement, with more efforts planned. It's almost impossible to conceive that the first proper roads were laid just over 40 years ago.

And no doubt the Ruler Of Dubai played a strong part. He'd have been instrumental in orchestrating presentations on Dubai's future capability and plans to meet the challenge. We can be sure that every attempt would have been made to reinforce the way in which Dubai has developed to this day - with atmospheric speed - and how that transformation could be continued.

The announcement of the win was met with scenes of national celebration, with fireworks, parties,  parades, and messages of congratulation from country leaders all over the world.

So with the 2020 World Expo some way off but needing considerable development in readiness, Dubai is set to kick into overdrive and solidify its place on the world stage as a powerful and influential global contributor.

What Does The Expo Win Mean To Dubai?

Pride is a favourite word of mine. It can be applied in a number of different circumstances. Normally in individuals, and how they act and perform.

In the case of Dubai, the word refers to the pride of a nation, of a people, of a Ruler with foresight and strength. It's the same pride that a country experiences when it hosts an Olympic games, or a World Cup. Big events that turn the eyes of the world to a destination. The 2020 Expo will be such an event.

But pride doesn't make a country wealthy, and great to live in for its residents. It contributes of course, maybe in intangible ways. The real benefit lies in growth.

Growth is what counts here, and is what the ruling Sheikh of Dubai has had in mind since beginning with plans to transform Dubai into the leading global hub that it has become. Growth and protection for his Emirate and its people.

The World Expos are designed to stimulate economic growth and cultural awareness, and create a timeless legacy for the countries that host them. We saw that for Shanghai in 2010, and the same will be seen in and after the next World Expo in Milan in 2015.

That growth on the back of the Expo win - and in the next years leading up to it - will ensure Dubai's future. It will trickle down through every walk of life for its residents, resulting in exponential growth in every area you can imagine. From construction, to hospitality, to facilities, to attractions, and to general tourism.

2020 Dubai World Expo Theme

The theme for the 2020 Dubai World Expo will be “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.” In the true spirit of  innovation and partnership, the theme will relay the message of building a sustainable world heading into the future.

Three sub-themes will also be presented at the expo- Sustainability, Mobility, and Opportunity.

With that in mind, the selected site for the Expo is the proposed Dubai Trade Centre-Jebel Ali, due to its strategic location. Between Dubai and Abu-Dhabi located next to the Dubai World Central Airport and Jebel Ali Port, the location will provide easy access for the millions of locals and internationals expected to attend the Expo.

With major airlines looking to make air travel greener, and the advances in digital technology, the Mobility sub-theme will be on display from the very start.

The Opportunity sub-theme is expected to bring forward ideas from growing economic models to sustaining economic stability. Education, employment, and attracting global firms will also be on display.

The Sustainability sub-theme is expected to address intelligent sources of water and energy. From fresh water eco-systems to climate change and solar power, Sustainability will be sure to garner much attention in 2020.

Considering what The World Expo has come to represent, and the fact that Dubai has built itself upon those principals, it seems only fitting that these two will come together in 2020. The Dubai Expo is set to play the ultimate part in demonstrating to the world that the emirate is a true global player that stands in an exalted position as one of the world's leading lights.

We'll witness further stunning developments over the next few years. Already The Ruler Of Dubai has begun cementing Dubai's prominence in the eyes of the world with inspired initiatives such as the #mydubai project. This is only the start, be ready to witness something truly awe-inspiring.

What Can We Expect?

The power to transform and advance a hosting cities economy and prominence in the world can not be overstated.

In 2010, Shanghai saw this first hand. Over 73 million people attended the Shanghai World Expo. With 129 countries participating, Shanghai received 2.79 million tourists. Six new subway lines and 4 thousand brand new taxis later, Shanghai was on it’s way to realizing the effect The World Expo can have on tourism alone.

While Dubai has already established itself as a first class tourist destination, current and proposed projects leading up to 2020 give us an even further glimpse into the future of  architecture and design.

The Expo event is anticipated to attract up to 25 million visitors to the Emirate between April and October 2020. That's 25 million people to accommodate and entertain, to feed, to travel. The knock on effect of that volume of visitors to Dubai and the other Emirates cannot fail to be astounding.

Approximately 227,000 jobs are expected to be created, mainly in tourist related and construction industries. Many of these will be employed on the 438 hectare site that the Expo will be held upon.

The Emirate will require around $43 million to help expand the hotel and leisure industry, and approximately $10 million will go towards improving transportation.

With an expansion plan in the works for Dubai International Airport that will raise its already large travel capacity from 60 million to 90 million, these two investments will go hand in hand. The expansion is set to be completed by 2018. Also to help with the increased traffic will be the over 180,000 hotel apartment rooms that are scheduled to be available by 2020.

So as anyone can see, the 2020 World Expo is set to help Dubai advance economically from infrastructure, rising property value, and tourism.

His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri stated: “ The legacy of holding such an event in Dubai is where the real value lies. A wide range of sectors will benefit, including construction, engineering and transportation, and of course the hospitality, retail, and aviation sectors will experience a significant positive impact, further strengthening their already robust positions.

The announcements made at the recent Dubai Airshow demonstrate the extraordinary strength of the aviation sector in Dubai and the UAE, and retail has been one of the leading drivers of the Emirate’s economic growth to date.

With regards to hospitality, there are currently 82,000 hotel and hotel apartment rooms in Dubai with this figure expected to double by 2020. This expanded hotel portfolio will be vital to ensure the demands of the Expo visitors are met, and DTCM will work with our partners, in both government and the private sector, to put in place the infrastructure and processes needed to meet the demand of the 25 million expected visitors over the Expo period.

Our successful bid demonstrated the value in harnessing the collective power, resources, and passions of all of our city stakeholders, and the people of the UAE, and we will ensure that the world is welcomed in style in 2020.”


Construction Projects

The construction industry in Dubai has already seen great benefits, just from announcements of the win. Many planned projects will receive extra impetus and funding. Many new ones will take shape over coming years, especially those with a footing in transport and hospitality infrastructure. Of course there will be huge interest and funding ploughed into the Expo site and surrounding area too.

Current projects include the extension of Dubai Metro’s Red Line to the airport at Dubai World Central, involving the build of a new stretch of line from the existing terminus point at Jebel Ali to Al Maktoum International Airport, which is next to the proposed Expo site at Dubai World Central.

There will be further construction requirements in hotels, staff accommodation, logistics, residential needs, and more.


Tourism And Hospitality

Both of these stand next to benefit substantially. 25 million visitors means a lot of tourism, with the vast majority needing some form of short term accommodation. At least 70% of this number could be coming in from outside the UAE. Organisers expect to need to double Dubai's hotel capacity within the next 5 years to somewhere around the 160,000 rooms range.

This is where the UAE as a whole can also display a consolidated approach, sharing some of the load to an extent. Many visitors from outside may be experiencing their first taste of the Middle East and Arabian culture, the draw to visit as many regions as possible may be a strong one.

Each of the Emirates has its own qualities that may easily prove attractive to Expo visitors. The trip from Dubai to Oman, for example, is a lengthy drive but perfectly achievable. Oman offers a perfect diversion for a few days to get a taste of something different, while there are other Emirates all within easy travelling distance.

All of the major parties that contribute to travel within a region have a part to play. The opportunities for tours operators, travel agents, national and world airlines, and official tourist organisations are endless.


Internal Transport

The Dubai Metro

Travel within Dubai for its residents and visitors was transformed by the launch of the Dubai Metro in 2009, which pretty much overnight relieved some of the traffic and jams that were commonplace.

Nowadays its reported that 7 million users per month travel on the metro. This number will clearly be exceeded greatly during the Expo itself, and it remains to be seen on what plans there are to ensure smooth running.

We do already know of the extension plans from Jebel Ali to the airport, as noted in the construction section above.

Dubai's Bus Network

For a bus service which started with a fleet of just five in 1968, the changes and growth has been phenomenal. The bus fleet now numbers over 1500 and is reportedly carrying over 100 million people per year.

The Dubai bus network now works in tandem with the Metro as an integral part of a well oiled internal transport machine, but it too will face challenges in 2020 which no doubt we'll see the answers to in coming years.

Buses with the latest in-built technologies - catering, Wi-Fi, green power etc - are likely to be a mainstay of local transport solutions.

Aviation & Air Travel

Dubai's main airport is already standing among the busiest in the world. Only last year, a reported 51 million passengers passed through Dubai International Airport. Around 150 airlines serve 220 destinations across every continent. By 2015, it will hold the busiest airport in the world crown.

In the run up to the 2020 Expo it'll see considerable extra development, designed to cater for growing numbers of visitors in general and of course vast numbers during the months of the Expo itself.

Flights in to Dubai will increase dramatically in this period.

With such a wide range of potential visitors, Dubai's attention to making traveling as simple as possible - both to Dubai and within it - is going to be of paramount importance.

We've already covered some of the travel infrastructure projects above, but one area that may attract more focus is that of visas. Clearly security is of the utmost importance, but we may see some changes in the way that the UAE handles visa requirements.

Secondary & Supporting Industries

All of the current sectors such as entertainment and attractions, tourism, trade, and retail will all see their own benefits from increased visitor numbers during the Expo. Their current levels of success will stand them in good stead for handling numbers effectively, though again we'll be seeing Expo related developments in each of these leading up to 2020.

And development takes money, so there will be a knock on effect to Dubai's financial services industries too. Loans for businesses and building will see exponential increases in volumes.

Employment & The Job Market

With so much development, the Dubai job market can be expected to see immense growth. Not only for local residents, but in attracting highly qualified professionals and lesser qualified worker support such as construction and services employees. Early estimates put the job number at around 275000.


In the first months since the Expo, one of the main news items on its impact was that of the property market. The boom and bust history of the Dubai property market is well known and documented. Late 2013 and early 2014 has seen big percentage increases in its value. Investors seem to be flocking back to get involved.

Clearly as we get closer to 2020 there's going to be demand in different sectors. There will be increased requirements for home rentals, which suggests that investors will be further attracted to buying rental properties. Price rises are likely especially in areas close the the Expo developments, though the whole show will have positive effects on other areas too.

Boy, do I wish I hadn't sold that apartment in JBR!!

Are There Risks?

We can see that the next six years will be a continuation of growth and expansion in a city that excels in such endeavors. Dubai’s already growing economy will no doubt benefit from all of the preparations leading up to the 2020 Dubai World Expo.

But this growth needs to be tempered to avoid any boom and bust scenarios. Dubai's leaders will be well aware of this challenge after the Emirate came out of the 2009 world financial crashes as one of the most affected economies worldwide. Growth this time needs to be balanced and sustainable.

Already there are signs that this is being thought through. In October 2013 the fee charged on land transactions was doubled as a deterence to land and property prospectors, while the UAE Central Bank set up rules to restrict mortgage lending.

Without major oil revenue, some of the infrastructure money will need to come from debt. Dubai will need to be careful how that is managed.

There are other risks of course which are harder to negate. We've seen before what effect global financial crashes have on every aspect of world economy. How those impacts filter down through every walk of life. The Dubai of the next 5 or 6 years could be just as susceptible to financial events outside its direct control as anyone else.

One risk which is harder to see any impact from is terrorism or conflict. The UAE has a safe reputation, and with such a mix of different nationalities and religions living together peacefully within its borders, it's difficult to envisage how anyone would want to impact that. Surely that would have negative implications for any organisation or country crazy (or driven) enough to try.

The World Expo Site

The site for the World Expo 2020 Dubai will be the Dubai Trade Center at Jebel Ali - situated on the south-western edge of the Emirate next to the Al Maktoum International Airport. This positions it perfectly for international visitors by air and is also close to the Jebel Ali port, one of the busiest in the world.

The main Dubai Expo site are is envisaged to be made up of pavilions which will be segregated inside into a number of different categories. These are expected to be the hub of the World Expo 2020, a centre-piece for exhibitors and public visitors alike.

One of the main focuses in the pavilions will be the Innovation Pavilion and Innovation labs - designed to provide a showcase for solutions and projects which have received their inspiration and support from Expo Live -
an innovation and partnership programme that takes its inputs from initiatives in the four key areas of workshops and events, challenges, funding, and partnerships)

This main focus pavilion will be covered by a canopy of solar panels that will give shade to those inside and provide green power. The canopy will reportedly provide half of the power needs of the building.

Away from the main pavilion will be those that are run by individual nations, each show-casing that nation's products, culture, and technology. There are further pavilions run by individual companies or organisations.

A number of developers are looking at building new hotels around the Dubai World central site, many of these likely to be built in the vicinity of Al Maktoum international airport.

Preparing for 2020 - The Map As It Unfolds

This section is intended to give a timeline around Dubai Expo 2020, right from the outset until the closing days. It'll be a big timeline by the time we finished. Here are the early entries:

November 27 2013 - A date to be marked firmly in Dubai's history - the bid to win the right to host the Expo was announced as successful. The first Middle Eastern country to host the Expo.

January 2014 - Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum initiates dedicated committee to project manage preparations for the event. This is marked as the first practical step in preparations, with the committee being formed from various senior government officials.

The committee will be responsible for ''evaluating the suitability and efficiency of Dubai's infrastructure, including tourist, medical and transport facilities," plus determining '' technical, security and economic requirements to present the international event in the best ways possible".

Who Will Attend Dubai Expo 2020?

It's protocol that recent bid winners are among the first to confirm attendance at a subsequent World Expo, so we can expect Italy and China to be the first confirmed attendees.

There are over 138 different confirmed attendees for the Milan Expo in 2015, we can expect this number to be at least met and most likely exceeded in Dubai.

More Information

Did You Know?

•  The world's first ice cream cone was first seen at the St Louis World Expo in 1904
•  Japan's Expo of 1970 saw the first mobile phones
•  NY 1964 saw the first display of a fax machine
•  The first TV was demonstrated in NY in 1939

Articles & Resources

Wikipedia carries an in depth article on the history of World Expos

Here's the link to the official Dubai Expo 2020 website

Video Guides

The video below unveils the 2020 Expo Master Plan - revealing just some of the developments that can be expected.For more videos you can visit the Dubai Expo 2020 Youtube page.

The World Expo - & What It Means for Dubai In 2020

•  A Short Trip Into World Expo History
•  Dubai's Win - Why Dubai
•  What Does The Expo Win Mean To Dubai?
•  2020 Dubai World Expo Theme
•  What To Expect     •  Construction   •  Tourism & Hospitality   •  Transport   •  Supporting Industries  •  Jobs   •  Property
•  The Risks
•  The World Expo Site
•  The Road To 2020
•  Attendees
•  More Info     •  Articles & Resources   •  Video Guides
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News & Updates
The UAE gets a chance for a small glimpse into the future with its pavilion for the 2015 Milan Expo.

This is expected to be 140 metres long and situated near the centre of the Expo Milan site.

Visitors will enter the pavilion by passing through a canyon with 12 metre high sand walls on either side, leading into a mock up of an ancient desert city.

The theme is expected to be focused around using long lasting materials everyday life. The pavilion itself will be made in such away that it can be deconstructed afterwards and shipped to Abu Dhabi to be used as a future local attraction.