Dubai: The hosting of Expo 2020 in Dubai will reshape the way business is being done in the UAE and the region and the spillover of the event will positively impact the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and wider Middle East, North Africa and South Asia region (Menasa), according to experts from global professional services firm Deloitte.
As the first-ever World Expo to be held in the Menasa region, Deloitte analysts say Dubai Expo 2020 will undoubtedly have an impact beyond the borders of Dubai and the UAE.
"While close to $7 billion [Dh25.7 billion] has reportedly been earmarked for development and infrastructure projects in Dubai so far, and tens of millions of visitors are expected in the first six months, the fact that Dubai is itself strategically located within four hours of a third of the world’s population this Expo has potential for wider impact leading up to the event and afterwards for years to come," said Mutasem Dajani, Deloitte’s UAE regional managing partner.
Experts say beyond commerce there is also a real human development dimension to the Expo, with investment and job creation expected to benefit the regional economies.
The construction, tourism, hospitality and leisure sectors have obvious potential to benefit from development spending and job creation. Technological innovators in conventional and alternative energy as well as engineering, urban planning and logistics will also likely see a host of in-region opportunities.
In a city where hotel occupancies are already high, Expo 2020 is estimated to require an additional 50,000 rooms in more than 200 properties of all categories from budget through to luxury, which is expected to create 100,000 new jobs in tourism and hospitality (out of 277,000 employment opportunities in total). The impact is therefore bound to be felt in neighbouring cities, particularly Abu Dhabi, as they absorb part of this demand.
Pundits are expecting a significant boost in the previously predicted growth rates of 4 per cent in the economy (Shanghai achieved 13 per cent GDP growth in the five years leading up to the 2010 Expo). Bank of Americal Merrill Lynch estimates a boost to the Dubai economy of $23 billion between now and 2020 and Arabia Monitor predicts that total receipts from visitors to Expo 2020 could reach $60 billion.
"There is no doubt that Expo 2020 will have a significant impact on Dubai and act as a catalyst, further energising the hospitality, leisure, retail and consumer businesses here," said Anis Sadek, Deloitte’s Dubai managing partner. "It only takes a quick analysis of the impact of an expected additional 20 million international visitors over a six-month period to see that significant investment in hospitality and retail infrastructure will be required."
Experts say there are likely to be a number of secondary and indirect effects to the financial advisory services, in addition to the direct opportunities to advise on the capital for projects to build new infrastructure.
Hosting Expo 2020 in Dubai is likely to boost the attractiveness of Dubai as a base for overseas companies wishing to invest in the Middle East. "It is easy to forget that there are still a great many companies around the world that do not have operations in the Middle East and have never invested here, and Expo 2020 should be yet another important component of any strategy to give Dubai a more prominent place in the business world," said Humphry Hatton, CEO of Deloitte Corporate Finance.