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22 April 2024

Dubai's goal to present best Expo in history: Sheikh Ahmed


A delegation representing the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), the inter-governmental organisation based in Paris that is responsible for World Expo, arrived in the UAE on Sunday.

The delegation is on a four-day Enquiry Mission to assess the UAE’s ability to host the World Expo 2020 in Dubai. This global gathering is expected to attract 25 million visitors.

The Enquiry Mission, led by Steen Christiansen, Chairman of the BIE Executive Committee, follows the UAE’s recent submission of its official Expo bid dossier. The delegation will use the bid dossier as a guide during its mission and discuss the vision behind the country’s bid theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, along with expected financial costs, worldwide promotion of the event, expected visitor numbers and the long-term use of the proposed Expo site, Dubai Trade Centre – Jebel Ali.

In addition to meeting with the country’s government and business leaders, the visit will include insights into the country’s heritage, its commitment to education, the burgeoning art and culture scene and visits to the UAE’s most famous landmarks.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline & Group, in his capacity as Chairman of the Higher Committee for Hosting the 2020 World Expo in Dubai, said: “We are honoured to welcome the BIE Enquiry Mission to the UAE so they can see first-hand the excitement, spirit and support for Expo 2020 exhibited by our multicultural nation.

"With great pride we look forward to the Mission’s discovery of our capabilities to not only host the event but to make it the best Expo in the event’s 150-year history.”

This is what premier partners of Dubai’s Expo Dubai 2020 bid – DP World, Etisalat, Jumeirah Group, Emirates airline, Dubai Airports and Emirates NBD bank – have to say about how they will be contributing to support the emirate’s global bid:

Mohammed Sharaf, Group CEO, DP World

What is DP World doing to support the bid?

“Dubai World has a support programme for the Dubai Expo 2020 bid that includes all 30,000 of our people worldwide, but is particularly strong in our home base of Dubai where we have enthusiastically embraced the Expo ethos.  As part of that, we have rolled out sponsorships featuring Expo 2020 that will reach millions of people, including a major presence at the DP World Tour Championship golf tournament, which was watched by more than 100 million viewers from all around the world.”

Is there an element of the UAE’s Expo 2020 bid that resonates particularly strongly with DP World?

“A key component of Dubai’s Expo 2020 bid is innovation, and this is a concept that is also very important to DP World.  We are committed to thought leadership and innovation in our own industry – it is what keeps us all energized to find new solutions for customers. We are also promoting and supporting innovation in the community to make this fundamentally part of what Dubai and the UAE is all about.  By encouraging a new generation of innovators, we support the UAE in its goal of becoming a knowledge economy.”

How is DP World aligned with the bids theme?

“Ours is a business that invests for the long term and we understand from experience how connecting across borders at an individual, community and country level creates a successful future, bringing down barriers between people and generating benefits for all.  And, like Expo 2020,  we are also strong believers in the importance of partnership.  It is by working closely with our customers, our business partners and our people that we have grown to become the third largest port operator in the world..”

Saleh Al Abdooli, CEO, Etisalat

What does the bids theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the future’ mean to Etisalat?

“This theme could not be more appropriate for Etisalat. We are dedicated to connecting people, and we are creating the technology of the future to do so. We believe in the ability of the World Expo to gather minds to address the major global challenges we face today, and those we will face tomorrow.

"The UAE is a trade, tourism and telecommunications hub, and we connect so many people in so many ways every day, not just in terms of straightforward communication, but also culturally and societally. I don’t know anywhere else that has nearly 200 nationalities living happily side by side, UAE national and expatriate.”

“The subthemes sit well with us too. Sustainability is at the core of our business - we have to grow in the right way and also to take care of this country, which has given us so much. We are always finding ways of cutting our carbon footprint and reducing our impact on the environment, planning not just for our futures but for the futures of our children too.”

Why should the UAE win the right to host a World Expo?

“Dubai and the UAE is a gateway to the wider Middle East. We are a nation that welcomes the world, and the Expo is a unique opportunity for the UAE to join with other countries to help shape our shared future. All of our capabilities and resources will be put behind the Expo, and we have a guaranteed dedication to excellence. This has become a part of our culture. Who wouldn’t want to come here?”

Helal Saeed Al Marri, Director-General of DTCM and CEO of Dubai World Trade Centre

Can you tell us more about the proposed Expo 2020 site?

“The Expo site has been carefully chosen to reflect the 2020 Expo theme of ‘Connectivity’ while providing the best possible operational and logistical efficiencies for participants; easy access for all visitors; and a high level of international visibility.”
“The 438-hectare ‘Dubai Trade Centre – Jebel Ali’ is one of the largest sites proposed for a World Expo and one of the most seamlessly accessible: a custom bonded Sea-Air logistics corridor will allow rapid transit of people from airports and ports in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
“The site is located next to the new Al Maktoum International Airport and in close proximity to Jebel Ali Port. Equidistant between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, it is 30 minutes from Dubai International Airport and 40 minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport.”
How has sustainability been incorporated into the site design?
“With The Green Economy Initiative, launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in January last year, the government has demonstrated its commitment to making the UAE a pioneer in the green economy and to preserving a sustainable environment that supports long-term economic growth. Both the bid to host Expo 2020 and the master plan for the proposed Expo site have been designed in-line with this commitment.”
“Sustainability is a core sub-theme of the Expo and therefore it is a core tenet of the site design, the operations of the Expo and the delivery of the Expo experience. Each aspect of environmental impact – energy, water, waste, materials, public realm and sustainability awareness - has been addressed in the master plan, and formulated in accordance with international best practice. Our sustainability agenda is too detailed to go into here but a small number of examples are as follows:
  • Supplying a substantial amount of the Expo Site’s energy needs over the event’s six month duration with energy from renewable sources. This includes making Dubai Expo 2020 ‘solar-centric’ by integrating photovoltaic panels throughout the site – for example in building facades, shading structures and street lighting – and encouraging participants to integrate the panels into their own pavilion designs.
  • Adopting a three pronged approach to water usage: reduced demand, efficient use and re-use. For example, using indigenous plant species within the landscape design and using Treated Sewage Effluent for district cooling and irrigation.
  • Using Expo 2020 to catalyse change in the waste management practices within the region, ensuring that not only does Expo 2020 limit its own contribution to landfill, it also creates a standard that other development projects and companies aim to match.
  • Limiting the environmental impact of vehicles by using the latest advancements in sustainable transport systems. It is conceived that it will be largely a car-free site, with park-and-ride facilities and the ‘ExpoRider’ bus service acting as the main forms of transportation. The Dubai Metro Red Line will be extended to service the site and the master plan also includes a cable-car system which will enable visitors to circumnavigate the entire site.
  • Considering the re-usage – and in some cases relocation – of the infrastructure and buildings, post-Expo. As a temporary event, the re-use of Expo assets is of fundamental importance and a core aspect of our legacy plans. It is intended that anchor structures such as the Welcome Pavilion, the Innovation Pavilion, the UAE Pavilion and the Theme Pavilions will be reconfigured and re-used once the event is concluded –as will shade structures, transport systems, trees, street furniture, lighting and paving materials.
  • Encouraging the use of recycled and local materials.”
“Adopting tactics such as the above will ensure that the theme of Sustainability will not only be brought to life through the environment created and the experiences delivered throughout the Expo period, but also it will be part of the fabric of the site itself.”
What will happen to the site after the Expo 2020?
“Every aspect of the Master Plan has been designed with due consideration to its after-life and with a defined strategy for re-use.”
“The Expo Site itself will transform into the planned urban development at The Dubai Trade Centre Jebel Ali. Focused around a large exhibition centre, this will include an Institute zone featuring Research Centres and a University which will be created out of the Innovation Pavilion and the Theme Pavilions and will nurture long-term thought leadership across the three subthemes of Mobility, Sustainability and Opportunity.”
“The UAE National Pavilion and Welcome Pavilion will be relocated and transformed into a National Museum that celebrates the history of the UAE as well as being a lasting testimonial to Dubai Expo 2020.”

Gerald Lawless, President and Group CEO, Jumeirah Group

What do you think about the UAE’s decision to bid to host World Expo?

“I am delighted that the UAE is bidding. I can’t think of anything that is more appropriate for the UAE than to bid to host the World Expo 2020. The UAE is made for it, and it is made for the UAE.”

What makes Dubai such a good place to host a World Expo?

“The emirate is very much a place that connects people and creates harmony, and it has always been a haven of peace and security. Dubai continuously gets voted as one of the safest places in the world to come to for a holiday, and I have no doubt that this will continue to be the case in 2020.”

"It also has evolved a very sophisticated and broad-based tourism product, particularly within the hospitality sector, because we now have hotels of all standards that are always of good quality, regardless of which star rating they are, from budget hotels all the way through to iconic hotels like our own Burj Al Arab.”

“With the number of hotels we have already – and I think that the UAE now has more hotels per head of population than any other country in the world – we will have more than enough capacity. I imagine we would cope better than anyone else from the point of view of being able to absorb all the extra visitors that would attend Expo 2020.”

Tim Clark, President, Emirates Airline

Why would Dubai make a good host city for the UAE’s bid to host World Expo 2020?

“Dubai has the infrastructure, ability, expertise and desire to make the Expo work, I don’t know many cities that could effectively deal with an event like this, but Dubai will be able to, and do so comfortably. The emirate’s trump card is access. An Expo needs to be in a city that is connected, and is geographically well positioned, Dubai is both."

How does Emirates Airline help the UAE’s value proposition?

“We have 198 aircraft servicing 129 destinations, playing a crucial role in the emergence of the UAE as an international hub for trade, tourism and commerce. By 2020, we’ll have a fleet of around 250 wide-bodied aircraft, and will have added another 30 or more destinations. In terms of our ability to connect the world, there will be no other international operator with that reach, able to connect with Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe.”

“There are huge population bases all around us, and we are already shifting tens of millions of passengers to and across our hub,  and we’ll continue to grow the business and to open points in Europe and Asia as well as the Americas. Indeed, we’ll be serving most of the world’s cities in time for Expo 2020, opening the opportunity to make the Dubai Expo 2020 the most international yet, bringing global exposure for the participants as well as for the Bureau of International Expositions.”

Paul Griffiths, CEO, Dubai Airports

Why should Dubai be chosen to host Expo 2020?

“If one of the key attributes of a successful Expo is measured in the diversity and volume of international visitors, then the UAE already has the world-class infrastructure to support that, and to make it successful. It would be a first for the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, and would mean an opportunity for some of the world’s fastest-growing emerging markets to participate.”

What role will Dubai World Central play in Dubai Expo 2020 plans?

“Dubai World Central will provide additional capacity to accommodate the anticipated boost in traffic that would result from a successful bid.

Once fully developed, it will be an airport with five runways and the ability to handle 160 million passengers per annum and 12 million tonnes of freight. This capacity will be needed to support the UAE’s rapidly growing role as the region’s trade and logistics hub. The UAE is the world’s third largest re-export market, exerting a strong influence on global trade flows and acting as a gateway to an international business community.”

Rick Pudner, Group CEO, Emirates NBD

What were your thoughts when you first heard Dubai was bidding for Expo 2020?

“It’s a very positive move forward. As one of the oldest and most prestigious events in the world, Expos have long served to bring the global community together, to showcase new technologies and identify solutions to key challenges facing humanity.”

Why should Dubai win the right to host World Expo and what are Emirates NBD doing to support the bid?

“Dubai is a city that brings people together, one that provides a perfect multicultural platform for the world’s most brilliant ideas, and so it seems like a natural fit. Of course, for Dubai and the UAE to be successful in its bid to host Expo 2020, it will require the unwavering commitment of the entire nation, and that means its leaders, its people and its businesses.

"That’s where we at Emirates NBD come in: to support the bid and to reach out proactively to more than a million customers, nationally and internationally, to spread awareness and enthusiasm. The World Expo is going to be one of those occasions that needs everybody on board, and we are connected with the top corporates in the region, as well as a wide and diverse customer base.”

“As one of the UAE’s biggest banks, with a multicultural staff of more than 7,500 representing 60 nationalities, Emirates NBD might be considered an embodiment of the Expo theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’”

How would the World Expo, and those who come to visit the event, benefit from it being hosted in Dubai and the UAE?

“An Expo in the UAE would truly be an Expo for the world, as people of nearly 200 nationalities already live and work in the UAE. We are within a four-hour flight range of nearly one-third of the world’s population, and for the first time in history, a majority of visitors to the Expo would come from outside the host country.

"The UAE’s strategic position as a bridge between East and West, and North and South, provides a powerful platform for the world to come together and unlock the potential of the future. What’s more, Dubai 2020 would be the first Expo to be held in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia region, giving these vibrant and dynamic economies access to great new opportunities on the world stage.”

While welcoming the BIE Enquiry Mission, HE Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State and Managing Director of the Higher Committee for Hosting the World Expo 2020 in Dubai, said: “The Enquiry Mission represents a critical stage in our bid to host the World Expo 2020. We have worked diligently to develop a thorough and detailed plan so I am confident that we can portray our capability to host such a mega-event.

"Importantly though, I want to leave the delegates with an understanding that the UAE’s bid is not just about us, it is about an Expo for the world with an unprecedented 70 per cent of the expected visitors to come from outside the host nation. We want to deliver an unforgettable event that does justice to our theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ with enduring benefits for future generations.”

To welcome the delegation, stakeholders from across the UAE have been showing their support to bring the event to the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA) region for the first time.

Symbolising the year in which the UAE plans to welcome the world to Expo, at 20:20 every night during the mission Jumeirah Group’s iconic Burj Al Arab seven-star hotel will be lit up with the bid logo. More than 3000 school children from across Dubai also participated in a “walkathon” event on Sunday organized by Dubai Police to raise awareness of the country’s bid to host World Expo 2020.

As a result of the visit, the Enquiry Mission will prepare a report detailing their recommendation to all BIE member states as to whether Dubai and the UAE would be a feasible host for the World Expo 2020. The report will be presented at the next BIE General Assembly in Paris in June 2013.

Dubai, UAE, is competing against four other candidate cities bidding to host the 2020 edition of this monumental global gathering. The winner will be announced in November 2013 following a vote by the 163 member nations of the BIE.