The chairman of London’s Olympic Committee, Sir John Armitt, has told MEED he believes Dubai has “a very good chance” of being awarded the World Expo 2020 on 27 November, but if it does win, time management will be crucial.

Speaking on the sidelines of US engineering technology company Bentley Systems’ Year in Infrastructure conference in London, Armitt said the emirate “has so many facilities already, such strong infrastructure”, and that he was keeping his fingers crossed for Dubai to win.

He added that sticking to a deadline would be the most important key to a successful expo. “The simple thing to bear in mind is that seven years goes by very, very quickly,” he said. “So, set yourself a target of having everything ready certainly six months to a year before the expo and stick to that.”

The expo date itself will provide that deadline, he said. “Move [the deadline] forwards and give yourself some spare time at the back, but don’t move that target date.”

Armitt has faith in Dubai’s ability to hit the 2020 deadline. “I’ve seen Dubai change over the course of 30 years and I’ve every confidence that it will deliver a fantastic expo,” he said.

Armitt delivered a keynote address at the Bentley conference, where he discussed the key factors in the success of last year’s London Olympics. Sticking to the deadline was important, he said, as was the consideration of why facilities were being built and their use after the Games, rather than focusing too much on what was being built and how. A generous budget of £9.3bn ($14.9bn) also helped, revised up from initial estimates of £2.7bn. “If you’ve got a skinny price, you make skinny decisions,” Armitt told the conference.