Countdown to vote on Dubai Expo 2020

As the vote on the World Expo 2020 bid approaches its three-day countdown, the UAE is determined to support Dubai’s candidacy as the host city. The ...

Nov 23, 2013

As the vote on the World Expo 2020 bid approaches its three-day countdown, the UAE is determined to support Dubai’s candidacy as the host city. The result of the vote will be announced on Nov. 27.
Every five years, the major cities of the world compete for the opportunity to host the World Expo. The candidate cities that submitted their bid to the Bureau of International Expositions to host Expo 2020 were Izmir, Turkey; Yekaterinburg, Russia; São Paulo, Brazil and Dubai, UAE.
Although Dubai was the last to submit its candidacy in 2011, publicity for its bid under the theme “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” was more prominent than that of competing cities in the past year. According to The National, the local community has been eagerly participating in the promotion of Dubai’s bid via social media outlets and local events.
However, Dubai’s victory still cannot be guaranteed because there is a lot to be done to meet the ambitious promises. NYU Abu Dhabi senior Dmitriy Tretyakov, who spent the last five months working on the Dubai 2014 State of Energy report as an intern at Dubai Carbon Center for Excellence, emphasized the reliance of the bid on energy use.
“The bid is to use 50 percent of energy that would be required to organize such event, which is an incredible amount,” said Tretyakov. “If that’s the case, Dubai will have to start preparing for this the minute they find out the results of the vote."
Vice Provost for Public Programming at NYUAD Institute and NYUAD Professor Philip Kennedy noted that the Expo 2020 has the potential to contribute to the sustainable development of the city and facilitate the rapid growth of tourism and real estate investment that became main sources of income in the aftermath of the real estate crash in 2008.
“I suppose the Expo can help sustain the recovery by providing a statement of confidence in the city and acting as a goal that in and of itself helps sustain growth and forward movement,” said Kennedy. “I expect it will affect the urban landscape, but I would have thought in a way that is quite of a piece with the way the city has already developed its real estate across sectors.”
Kennedy emphasized the potential improvements and urban changes that Expo 2020 can bring.
“I know Seville got a high-speed railway out of the 1992 expo,” said Kennedy. “I wonder what Dubai's equivalent might be. Perhaps it should do the same in the UAE — create the rail links and the beginnings of a national network that I for one would find to be an enormous public service.”
An important aspect of hosting Expo 2020 is the prospect of new potential partnerships and employment opportunities.
“It will be extremely beneficial for the local economy, as it will bring a lot of jobs [and a] massive amount of tourists in the country,” said Tretyakov. “It will stimulate the growth of hospitality area and reach out to the crowd, which normally wouldn’t pick Dubai as their destination."
Kennedy agreed that the opportunity to host Expo 2020 could facilitate the establishment of new partnerships and commitments.
“The Expo might help create a sense of goals having been accomplished, a kind of capping process, in all sectors of growth to date,” said Kennedy.
Although Dubai plays a central role in the preparation and promotion of the bid, the success of the event will rely on support from the other emirates. In a way, Expo 2020 aligns with Plan Abu Dhabi 2030: Urban Structure Framework Plan.
“Dubai had a headstart on Abu Dhabi in its urban development for a variety of reasons,” said Kennedy. “So I don't see why this can't be seen as Dubai's own version of a 2030 plan but enacted somewhat in retrospect.”
Another reason the UAE is an attractive candidate to host this major event is the stable political record of the country.
“If the politics are in the picture here, then I think Dubai will be one of the safest bets given the demonstrations and instability in Brazil, Turkey and Russia,” said Tretyakov.
The privilege of hosting Expo 2020 could be an excellent gift for Dubai on the celebration of UAE National Day.
“Dubai has to make itself stand out in its bid,” said Tretyakov. “As it seems like the chances are as high as Burj Khalifa, Dubai government still has to make certain promises which will make it more preferable than Sao Paulo.”
Daria Karaulova is deputy managing editor. Email her at
gazelle logo