“2020.” These 4 numbers ring out in our collective consciousness and trigger anxiety and fear. So much changed in 2020 and the world had to adjust to the “new normal” and adapt to new rules and regulations, from social distancing to travel restrictions. Events the world over had to be cancelled or postponed due to the virus that spread throughout the globe, and the Expo 2020 Dubai was no exception.
The Expo 2020 Dubai is a world expo that was scheduled for 20 October 2020 - 10 April 2021 however, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the event has been postponed to 1 October 2021 - 31 March 2022. The good news is that the expo will go ahead, but has just been given a new date and despite the expo being moved to a later date it will still stay true to its name “Expo 2020 Dubai ” this has been done for branding purposes but it also puts a positive spin on those 4 numbers - and we are all for it!
The Expo 2020 Dubai (2021)
The Expo 2020 Dubai is the UAE's largest mega-project and the construction of the expo is one to behold. A new city has emerged in the UAE’s financial capital and this city will play host to the largest event to have ever been hosted in the Arab world. This new “city” brings with it a sense of optimism in an otherwise scary time and this spirit of hope and excitement can be felt throughout the capital as the new mega city continues to build and rise.
The Expo 2020 Dubai is the world's first expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region. The Expo is predicted to bring in 10s of millions of visits from members of the public, thought leaders, business owners, students, heads of state and world leaders - with 70% of visitors to be international. The Expo will coincide with the UAE's Golden Jubilee and there will be 190 nations participating in the event. The expo also provides a platforms to showcase global innovation, global leadership and creativity.
The Expo 2020 Dubai (2021) has one main theme and that is: “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”. The theme is apt for today, especially in a time when technology is bringing the world together and helping us connect more than ever before. In support of the Dubai Expo bid, Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said it best, "In today’s highly interconnected world, a renewed vision of progress and development based on shared purpose and commitment is key. While a married human mind, an individual country, or a specific community is both unique and remarkable, it is by working collaboratively that we truly advance.”
And honestly, what could be a better theme for 2021? We have had to connect more than ever before during the toughest year and we know that by connecting minds at this time, we have the opportunity to create a greater future for all. Al Bayat Chief sales and marcomms officer said it best when she spoke to Arabian Business about the event, “Our focus, our mission, our objective is even more relevant today than before. [The] Expo is all about people, planet and purpose and if we’ve learned anything this year it’s the importance of people, planet and purpose and the importance of us coming together and that human solidarity that we saw very strongly this year. ”
The site of the Dubai Expo is a 438-hectare area that is located between Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The entire plan of the expo has been organised around a central plaza or location known as Al Wasl, and will be enclosed by three districts, with each one being dedicated to a sub-theme of the expo. These three sub themes or categories are: Opportunity. Mobility and Sustainability.
- Opportunity: This sector will focus on unlocking the potential within individuals and communities to shape a better future. It is made up of themes such as employment, education, governance, new business and financial capital.
- Mobility: This sector focuses on effective and smarter movement of goods, ideas and people and tackles topics such as transportation, exploration and travel as well as digital connectivity, personal mobility and logistics.
- Sustainability: This sector tackles environmental themes and living in balance with our planet. The themes within this sector include innovations designed to protect ecosystems. It will also discuss how we can best tackle the effects of climate change and how we can create lasting benefits for future generations.
But, will the event make a return on investment in the new normal?
Pre-Covid, it was announced that the Dubai Expo 2020 would significantly boost Emirate’s economy by an astounding $33.4 billion and would support 905 200 jobs-years between 2013 and 2031 (based on a report published by Global Consultancy EY). The expo was predicted to add the equivalent of 1.5 percent to the UAE GDP. But what does this mean for the UAE now that COVID-19 has affected the world, and continues to affect the world? Chief Sales and Marcomms Officer of the event, Manal Al Bayat told Arabic Business “We’ve seen what human beings can do in dire circumstances and we’ve seen that you can’t do it on your own and you really need everyone to come together, but that call to action is stronger today than it ever was and I think the hope, the plan, the ambition, is for this Expo to bring the policy makers together with the innovators, together with the future leaders, to create that blueprint that we then just have to make sure we keep pushing forward.”
Billions of dollars have been invested in the project since the expo was awarded to Dubai in 2013 and even now, under the unpredictability of the new normal, the UAE is hoping for a substantial return on investment from the event. The event planners expect 25 million visitors during the 6 month expo even though some travel restrictions may be in place.
CNBC spoke with Tarek Fadlallah regarding the expo and the projections and stated, “It seems difficult to achieve the ambitious target for international visitors but, no matter, millions are still expected to descend on Dubai, and that is a huge positive,” he went on to say, “Notwithstanding the availability of a vaccine, travel industry observers expect that it will be 2022 or even 2023 before the sector fully recovers.”
Connecting Minds. Creating the Future.
As stated previously, Expo 2020 Dubai is a monumental achievement for the Middle East, North Africa and South Asian region and is set to bring the world together, under strict safety protocols, in 2021. With its theme being “Connecting Minds. Creating the Future,” the expo is what the world needs in 2021 and offers a place to bring us all together again after the year that was 2020.
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