Khaleej Times column: Great expectations ahead for Dubai

Here’s our CEO and Founder Michael Lahyani’s column in Khaleej Times where he talks about the impact the Expo win is likely to have on Dubai and why Dubai’s win is not just a celebration of its entry into the big league but also proof of its resilience and unity in the face of adversity to open up a world of unlimited possibilities for itself.

Dubai Expo 2020

Great expectations ahead for Dubai
Michael Lahyani (Property Focus) / 1 December 2013

Finally, the verdict everyone’s been waiting for is out. Celebrations were everywhere as Dubai’s win was jubilantly revealed. What makes this event extra special is the fact that this has come in just the 42nd year of the UAE’s history. Following intense competition over the course of two years with contenders such as Russia, Turkey and Brazil, Dubai impressively maintained a clear lead throughout the three rounds of voting held in Paris to become the first city in the Middle East and North Africa region to host the World Expo, the world’s third largest non-commercial event after the Olympic Games and FIFA World Cup.

As a resident of and an entrepreneur in Dubai, I am extremely excited to be part of this momentous phase in Dubai’s economy and would like to congratulate the government, residents and businesses on coming together to make this possible. Expos are amongst the world’s largest events and the road to 2020 will offer enormous potential for all those who live and work here. What’s more, the event will translate into and open up numerous opportunities across the economic spectrum, particularly in the construction, tourism, hospitality, transport, IT, telecom and manufacturing sectors.

Dubai Palm Jumeirah property

The key thing to remember here is that Dubai’s infrastructure and tourism played a vital role to win the bid, so any progress we see post the win will augment what is already in place. For one, trade and tourism will increase as Dubai becomes recognised as the gateway to anyone who wishes to do business in the region, further cementing its position as a competitive global player. With this, we can expect a rise in demand for long and short-stay options, such as serviced apartments, as the country aims to attract nearly 25 million visitors between April and October 2020 and tourists and business travellers in the years leading to the event. It has also been projected that the UAE economy will see over Dh100 billion in revenue and the creation of more than 200,000 jobs between 2013 and 2021, 40 per cent of which are expected to be generated in the travel and tourism sectors. This is not too surprising if we look at what the World Expo 2010 did for Shanghai. The event saw over 70 million visitors and boosted China’s tourism market, tourist spending and GDP significantly.

Dubai Palm Jumeirah

Coming to real estate, the overwhelming confidence we’ve seen in the market this year will continue to drive property demand and prices organically with the win accelerating the implementation of megaprojects such as Mohammed Bin Rashid City and residential and business districts in and around Dubai World Central Airport. Further, numerous new projects will be launched, increasing property supply and in turn balancing the rise in demand due to the increase in resident and visitor numbers. The new airport will also see rapid expansion and drive the construction of infrastructure projects such as the Dubai Metro Purple Line. The 1988 Expo in Brisbane, Australia, for instance, drove the laying of nearly 2,000 kilometres of telecommunications wire and the world-famous Eiffel Tower was built as the entrance arch to the 1889 World Expo in Paris.

Jumeirah Beach Residence

Dubai has always been a model city where diverse cultures, traditions and nationalities co-exist harmoniously. When I arrived in Dubai in 2004, the city was very different from what it is today. By 2020, Dubai will be a new city once again, probably a lot more different, given the rapid pace with which projects will be conceived and completed during the years leading to the Expo.

Back in 2008, even as Dubai’s economy was struggling to find its footing following the global downturn, who would have thought that five years later, the city would get ready to host the largest trade show on earth. Dubai’s win is not just a celebration of its entry into the big league but also a global acknowledgment of a city that refused to watch from the sidelines and displayed resilience and unity in the face of adversity to open up a world of unlimited possibilities for itself.

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