In November 2013, Dubai won the bid to host the World Expo 2020. Fireworks erupted from the Burj Khalifa and the ruler of Dubai promised that the city would ‘astonish the world.’
Every five years and for a period of six months, World Expos attract millions of visitors. Also known as the World’s Fair, it is an event that has been around for over 150 years. It is similar to the Olympic Games, except that instead of sports, it’s about science, technology, culture and economics. The World Expo is effectively the largest mix of trade exhibitions or world fairs and is not by any means a new concept, with the first noted World Expo being hosted in London in 1851. Indeed, previous Expos have yielded legacies such as the Eiffel Tower, the telephone, ice cream and Heinz tomato ketchup.
What to expect
A photovoltaic fabric structure is said to cover the walkways acting as a solar-powered sun shade capable of absorbing energy and supplying half the Expo’s power requirements. At night, the fabric will act as a canvas for light displays and digital projections. At the core of the site there’s said to be an open plaza called Al Wasl which is Arabic for ‘the connection’ – again in keeping with Dubai’s Connecting Minds, Creating the Future theme – that will act as the central souk.
It was reported that the last Expo held in Shanghai in 2010 received over 73 million visitors from 250 countries. The site that showcased this phenomenon measured a massive 5.28sq km, and a new record attendance for a single day was set with more than 1.03 million people visiting the site. These numbers, by any standard, are hugely impressive, and an indicator of how important for the local economy the winning vote is to Dubai – especially when you consider the reported profits reached in excess of US$157 million for the Expo alone.
It is already predicted that there will be an influx to the region of 25 million visitors going through the turnstiles in Dubai. The knock-on effect is a predicted 277,000 jobs created for the region and a huge boost not only to the ensuing job market, but for the infrastructure of Dubai. With Al Maktoum International Airport’s ambitious plans to overtake the likes of London Heathrow in the coming years, and its central location here in the Middle East, it is easy to see why this is the perfect platform and opportunity in which to raise the bar.
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