Scenes of jubilation across emirate as Dubai trumps rival bids to host first ever Expo in Middle East
Dubai was awarded the right to host the Expo 2020 event following a successful campaign that culminated in victory in Paris on Wednesday night.
At the 154th Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), the Gulf emirate defeated rival bids from Turkey’s Izmir, Brazil’s Sao Paolo and Russia’s Yekaterinburg following three rounds of closed voting.
Dubai led the race throughout, with Brazil’s Sao Paolo and Turkey’s Izmir were eliminated in the first and second rounds respectively. In the final round, Dubai received 116 votes from 168 BIE member nations, beating Russia’s Yekaterinburg. Victory was confirmed at around 8:30pm local time, leading to scenes of jubilation across the emirate. Its success was topped off with a stunning impromptu firework display in the environs of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.
The result means that 2020 will mark the first time that the Expo – which is more than a century old and has been responsible for the launch of multiple inventions including the typewriter, tomato sauce and electricity – has been held in the Middle East.
Dubai's bid had been publicly backed by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, London Mayor Boris Johnson, former US president Bill Clinton, Canada, France and a number of international superstars.
Earlier in the day, UAE minister of state and managing director of the Dubai Expo 2020 bid committee Reem Al Hashimi gave an impassioned speech to the BIE in which she outlined the emirate’s case for hosting the event.
“We strive to present an unforgettable experience for Expo 2020 guests,” she said. "We will endeavour to give the world an exquisite and memorable Expo. We will give Expo 2020 the recognition it deserves."
Speaking after the victory was announced, Dr Amina Al Rustamani, Group CEO, TECOM Investments, said: “Winning Expo 2020 is a remarkable achievement for Dubai and the UAE... Hosting Expo 2020 will be a catalyst for the ongoing diversification and development of Dubai’s knowledge economy, and we are likely to see the benefits in three distinct phases. There will be an immediate shot in the arm in terms of economic confidence. This will be followed by the planned infrastructure and project investments taking shape over the next six years during the preparation stage, which will offer growth opportunities across a range of industries – from manufacturing and media to tourism and education. Once the event is complete there will also be a strong legacy that the event leaves behind, which businesses will be able to take advantage of."
Mat Green, head of research & consultancy UAE, CBRE Middle East, added: "Dubai thoroughly deserves to host an event of this magnitude. The Expo 2020 is really testament to the progress that Dubai has made in the last few years... Development projects such as the construction of the Dubai Metro Purple Line and the work in and around the Dubai World Central, the actual site of the expo, are likely to be expedited. Importantly, this result will also lead to the creation of new employment opportunities in Dubai, strengthening the emirate’s position as a key financial hub in the region."
About 25m tourists are expected to visit Dubai during the six-month event if it wins, while Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the emirate’s top financial official and a member of the Expo committee, said the emirate would invest $8.1bn in new infrastructure if it was successful in its bid to host Expo 2020. Infrastructure would include new roads, an extension to the metro, as well as the site itself, in Jebel Ali.
It is also expected to boost Dubai’s annual economic growth by 1 percentage point and create 277,000 new jobs.
Click here for a detailed account of the emirate's journey to victory and a breakdown of the votes during the three rounds.