Expo win not vital for Dubai's economic growth

12 September 2013

It is Dubai’s economic recovery rather than its Expo bid that has boosted sentiment, although a win would lift confidence to greater heights

The city of Dubai is awash with rumours about the Expo 2020 bid. The most popular theory making rounds is that a decision has already been made and the emirate has already secured the rights to host the event.

Although these rumours are most likely lacking in real substance, the bravado shows how confidence in Dubai has transformed since the dark days of the emirate’s financial crisis in 2009.

It is Dubai’s economic fundamentals rather than its Expo 2020 bid that has boosted sentiment. While still challenged by legacy debts, the emirate’s trading economy is vibrant, its airport is one of the busiest in the world, its hotels are full, and, perhaps most surprising of all, its property prices are the fastest-growing in the world.

That said, the importance of Dubai’s bid to host the World Expo 2020 should not be downplayed. It has given the emirate and particularly its government agencies a focus that has helped them concentrate on the future without being constantly distracted by the debt problems of the past.

If Dubai is successful and the Expo bid is selected in late November, then confidence will be catapulted to even greater heights, boosting economic growth and creating billions of dollars-worth of new business opportunities.

The event will also reinforce the emirate’s position as a regional hub. No other Middle Eastern city has ever hosted the World Expo and hosting it will mean Dubai remains a regional leader as other GCC cities, such as Doha and Abu Dhabi, continue to develop in its wake.

Even if the Expo bid fails and Turkey’s Izmir or Russia’s Yekaterinburg emerges successful, all is not lost. Dubai’s economy in 2013 is more robust than it has been for more than five years, and should maintain its upward trajectory regardless of whether or not it wins the right to host the event.

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