Dubai has been awarded the right to host the World Expo in 2020, beating bids from three other cities, the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) confirmed after a vote in Paris.

The UAE emirate, which was chosen ahead of Ekaterinburg in Russia, Izmir in Turkey and Sao Paulo, Brazil, pledged to make Dubai Expo 2020 one of the largest ever expos ever with an expected 25 million visitors. The hosts said it will be the world’s “first carbon-neutral mega event”.

Dubai’s proposal beat Ekaterinburg by 116 votes to 47 votes in the final round after Sao Paolo was knocked out in the first round and Izmir eliminated in the second round..

Dubai Expo 2020 will be the first-ever world’s fair held in the Middle East and is expected to run from October 2020 until April 2021. The emirate, which has earmarked $7bn in capital spending for the event, has planned a 4.4-square-kilometre exhibition site at Jebel Ali, close to the emirate’s new Al-Maktoum International Airport.

The decision is expected to provide a significant boost to the UAE economy and was welcomed by businesses across the country.

“In terms of the business community, this is a great boost across all economic sectors,” said Hamad Buamim, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

“It is estimated that the Expo will attract 25 million visitors from across the world and create more than 275,000 jobs,” he added. “This will significantly boost our economy and help to attract even more investment into Dubai.”

Dubai’s annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth is forecast rise to an average of 6.4 per cent for the next three years, driven by the Expo, and potentially rise to 10.5 per cent to 2020, UK-based bank Barclays said.

At the same time, analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch have forecasted that the total investment impact of Dubai hosting the event will amount to $23bn.

The CEO of Dubai-based Tecom Investments, Amina al-Rustamani, outlined the three phases of diversification and development driven by the Expo award.

“There will be an immediate shot in the arm in terms of economic confidence,” says Al-Rustamani. “This will be followed by the planned infrastructure and project investments taking shape over the next six years during the preparation stage, which will offer growth opportunities across a range of industries – from manufacturing and media to tourism and education.”

“Once the event is complete there will also be a strong legacy that the event leaves behind, which businesses will be able to take advantage of,” she predicts.

According to the regional head of real estate services group Jones Lang LaSalle, the decision will have a major effect on the UAE’s real estate sector as early as next year.

“While the Dubai real estate market is poised for growth regardless of the expo, the success of this bid will act as the single most important influence on the real estate sector across the UAE in 2014,” predicts Alan Robertson, chief executive officer (CEO) of Jones Lang LaSalle for the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region.

“Expo 2020 will not benefit all of the sectors of the Dubai real estate market to the same degree,” he says. “The hotel and logistics sectors [will be the] the biggest winners, while the residential and retail sectors will also derive significant benefits.”

Robertson warns that while the expo would bring long-term benefits to Dubai’s economy and its real estate market, the short-term impact needs to be managed carefully to avoid excessive price growth or overdevelopment.

Destination Dubai 2020
On 28-29 January 2014, MEED will hold its Destination Dubai 2020 event. The two-day conference will bring together the emirate’s key government-related entities and stakeholders to discuss their respective growth plans and outline Dubai’s ongoing expansion to 2020 and beyond. For the very latest information regarding this event, please visit www.destinationdubai2020.com