Presenting a positive image of tolerance
Dubai could present a ‘positive’ image of tolerance in a region rocked by turmoil if it wins a bid to host the 2020 Universal Exposition, UAE Minister of State, Reem Ibrahim Al Hashemy said.
Dubai hopes to attract some 25 million visitors and create nearly a quarter of a million jobs if it wins the bid. The expositions showcase technology, architecture and culture, while drawing visitors to host cities and generating business.
On November 27, the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) will announce the host for the World Expo, held every five years since it began in London in 1851. If Dubai — home to the world’s tallest tower, largest man-made island and one of the world’s busiest airports — is selected, it will be a first for an Arab country.
“No Arab country has won, no country in the African continent, Indian subcontinent or Central Asia has hosted the event”, said Al Hashemy, who is also managing director of the Dubai World Expo 2020 Bid Committee.
While the Arab world has been shaken by “tremendous challenges, strife and instability,” Dubai wants to show “this part of the world does also deliver on positive and meaningful outcomes,” she said.
Hashemy said the event would be an opportunity to “promote principles such as openness and tolerance.” The city hopes to attract “around 25 million visitors, 70 per cent (of them) international” if it wins the bid, she said.
Last month, the emirate opened its second airport, Al Maktoum International, touted to be the world’s largest once it is completed, with an annual capacity to handle 160 million passengers and 12 million tonnes of cargo.
The city’s luxurious shopping malls, hotels and man-made islands now attract nearly 10 million visitors every year.
She estimates the overall investment for the construction and servicing of the Expo site at about $8.8 billion. The site will later be converted into a university with research centres, a convention centre and a national museum.
But most of the necessary infrastructure already exists in Dubai’s 2020 development plan, she added. Hosting the Expo would create “227,000 jobs” over the next seven years and generate “27 billion euros” for the United Arab Emirates’ economy.