x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Dubai launches bid to host World Expo 2020

Dubai is the fifth city to bid, with the others being Sao Paulo in Brazil, Ayutthaya in Thailand, Ekaterinburg in Russia and Izmir in Turkey.

DUBAI // Dubai has launched its formal bid to host the 2020 World Expo, a lucrative biennial convention that rivals the Olympic Games in scale and prestige.

It is the fifth city to bid, with the others being Sao Paulo in Brazil, Ayutthaya in Thailand, Ekaterinburg in Russia and Izmir in Turkey. A decision is likely to be made next year.

It follows the widespread acclaim for the UAE Pavilion at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, which won two architecture awards and attracted 2 million visitors.

The pavilion, designed by Foster + Partners, has since been moved to Saadiyat Island, where it has been rebuilt as an art gallery.

It has not yet been announced whether the country will have a similar pavilion at this year's May event in Yeosu, South Korea. The Shanghai expo attracted 73 million visitors over six months.

"Economically, it [Dubai's bid] makes incredible sense," said Rohit Talwar, the chief executive of the consultancy Fast Future, which is conducting research into the future of convention centres.

"It will drive a huge amount of traffic to the country. It will benefit the airlines, it will benefit the local hotels and the economy. There's very little downside to doing this."

A delegation from Bureau International des Expositions, which awards the expo, arrived in Dubai yesterday and is in talks with government officials on the merits of the bid.

A statement released through the state news agency Wam said the expo would serve as an "innovation platform to exchange ideas".

Mr Talwar said although bids from Brazil and Turkey would inevitably be looked on favourably owing to their emerging economic status, Dubai had a strong geographic case for its candidacy.

"Dubai is brilliantly positioned with access to two thirds of the world's population within eight hours," he said.

"It's centrally placed to attract people from around the world. They have the space and the resources to host something of this nature."

mcroucher@thenational.ae