x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Fresh investments worth billions could flow in to UAE if Dubai wins bid to host Expo 2020

Investment experts predict that Dubai's win in the bid to host World Expo 2020 could trigger billions of dollars worth of fresh investments.

DUBAI // An international meeting in Paris next month to vote on the Expo 2020 may trigger billions of dollars of fresh investment in Dubai, experts have said.

A vote of the 167 member states of the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions is expected to choose between Dubai, Izmir in Turkey, Sao Paulo in Brazil and Yekaterinburg in Russia at an assembly on November 26-27.

A successful bid would be a defining moment for the emirate, said property experts, marking its transformation into a top global centre for tourism, trade and finance.

“If Dubai wins the World Expo 2020 bid, we will witness another boom in the property market,” said Khalid Kalban, chief executive of Dubai-listed property developer Union Properties.

Because of Dubai’s small population, the Expo could have more of an impact on its economy than most host locations.

The government quotes a report by consultancy Oxford Economics which estimates the event would attract 25 million visitors over six months and create about 277,000 jobs.

Many property developers have expressed interest in projects around the proposed 438-hectare Expo site in Jebel Ali, near Dubai’s new airport and the third busiest port in the world.

“Dubai’s real estate growth will be in this area,” said Craig Plumb, regional head of research at consultants Jones Lang LaSalle.

Dubai’s transport authority said in June that it would expedite plans for a Dh5 billion extension to its Metro rail line if the emirate won the bid.

As a result, total spending related to the Expo, including private sector projects, could reach Dh67.2bn, according to an HSBC estimate.

The Dubai government is expected to provide a total of about Dh24.9bn of capital spending for the Expo, while the fair would cost around Dh5.8bn to operate, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a report.

Bank of America predicted the Expo could lift Dubai’s gross domestic product growth by about 0.5 of a percentage point annually in 2016-2019 and about 2 percentage points in 2020-21.

For proponents of the project, however, the immediate economic impact is secondary to the benefits of burnishing Dubai’s reputation and introducing it to millions more visitors from around the world.

“I can tell you now, the benefit will outweigh the cost of hosting the event,” said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed, head of Dubai’s supreme fiscal council and its Expo committee.