x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Behind Dubai's Expo 2020 bid

The Life: With seven more years to go for World Expo 2020, chief architect of Dubai's bid Chris Scott talks about why it stands a good chance to win.

Chris Scott is the director of investment and development at DWTC and is also a driving force behind Dubai's bid for Expo 2020. Razan Alzayani / The National
Chris Scott is the director of investment and development at DWTC and is also a driving force behind Dubai's bid for Expo 2020. Razan Alzayani / The National

Christopher Scott, director of investment and development at Dubai World Trade Centre, is also one of the chief architects of Dubai's bid for Expo 2020. He spoke about the proposal and the work that is going on to attract the world to the UAE during a gathering at Dubai World Trade Club last week. The following is taken from his speech and interaction with the audience.


What is the history of World Expo?

The first World Expo was held in Hyde Park in London in 1851 because the then ministers realised Britain had a lot to learn from around the globe, to enable partnerships to be born. World Expos have taken place all over the world since then. A World Expo is right up there in the league with Olympics and Fifa World Cup. The impact on host countries is huge. Around 73 million people visited World Expo in Shanghai in 2010. Shanghai's theme was "Better City, Better Life". A World Expo takes place every five years, while smaller ones take place every year. The key function is to form partnerships in bilateral trade, public to private and private to private trade links, create investment opportunities, showcase innovative technologies and provide a platform for cross-cultural understanding and expression. The UAE pavilion at the World Expo 2010 was reconstructed on Saadiyat Island. We have selected to host from October 20, 2020, and will run through April 10, 2021, which ties in with the golden jubilee of the UAE. Our theme will be "Connecting Minds, Creating the Future".


Where are we in the bid process?

In November 2011 we bid for World Expo 2020, and submitted a 600-page document in December 2012. On November 27 [this year], a final decision will be made. We have strong competition. Turkey bid for 2015 and lost to Milan. And Brazil knows how to lobby the international community. But we have a whole team in Paris whose sole purpose is lobbying for us, and here at every level of the Government we have full support. It's a UAE federal bid and they have engaged diplomats at every level to lobby for us.


What would be the impact on tourism?

Traditionally a majority of the visitors to World Expos have been domestic visitors. The total number of visitors from China were 73 million, out of which 9 million were international. We will flip that on its head. International visitors here are expected to be more than the domestic visitors. We expect 17.5 million international visitors, the first time in the history of World Expos. Around 182 countries will come and build pavilions or cooperate with multilateral corporations. Total number of daily visitors can be 300,000 maximum, and 180,000 on average.


What will the centerpiece of Dubai 2020 look like if the event comes here?

Being true to the local landscape, it will be built around the theme of a covered souq. It will be located halfway between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and we know the economic heart of Dubai is shifting towards Jebel Ali. The smaller countries will not be required to pay rent, it will be borne by us. For the first time in World Expo history, we will have an Expo Live pavilion. There will be a €100 million (Dh484.7m) fund to help in the exploration of 21 challenges, seven for each of the sub-themes of mobility, sustainability and opportunity. If we win the bid, by December we will start planting trees at the site. Any physical structure will have a legacy use. Photovoltaic cells on the roof of the souq will generate 50 per cent of the pavilion's energy needs.


What will be the economic impact of the expo?

Capital expenditure that the UAE will make will be €4.5 billion. The total economic output will be €28.8bn, including those generated through visitors and household purchasing. Hotels and restaurants will generate 40 per cent of the jobs created, 30 per cent from the construction sector and the rest 30 per cent from transport and logistics.


Why should Dubai host?

Dubai has a history of delivery and it's in very safe hands. Seven years ago, Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall did not exist. We have seven more years to go.