A successful bid to host Expo 2020 could provide a massive boost to Dubai’s economy over the long-term, cementing its recovery from the 2008-2009 financial crisis and creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs in the process. Arabian Business takes a look at how the emirate’s key industries could benefit from hosting the prestigious event
Aviation and transport
In 2012, more than 51 million passengers travelled through Dubai International Airport (DIA), serving 220 destinations via 150 carriers. Even so, the emirate’s main transport hub is undergoing extensive redevelopment and expansion to accommodate the influx of millions of international visitors that will come with hosting Expo 2020. According to the organiser’s forecasts, over 17.5 million people will flock from around the world to visit Expo 2020 in Dubai, or up to 300,000 every day. This is not to mention exhibitors from more than 180 nations.
Preparations are already well under way for this, with aviation authorities busy expanding and upgrading existing air infrastructure. DIA is currently undergoing $7.8bn of renovation which will eventually allow the facility to cope with 90 million passengers per year. The improvements include the construction of Concourse 3 and Concourse 4 and expansions to Terminal 1 and 2.
“If you look at the airport today, it is going to surpass its passenger goal for 2013 quite handsomely. Next year, it will eclipse Heathrow as the second busiest airport in the world,” says Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at aviation consultancy StrategicAero Research. “That's before you consider the several billion dollars earmarked for expansion at the airport.”
To add to its existing hub, Dubai is also placing the finishing touches on the new Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central, just a short journey from the proposed Expo 2020 site in Jebel Ali. With an eventual capacity of 160 million passengers per year, the airport will easily surpass London Heathrow to become the largest in the world. Passenger operations are due to start at Al Maktoum in October this year, with Dubai’s Emirates Airline expected to make the move to the hub sometime around 2015.
Analyst Ahmad says that rival host cities for Expo 2020 in Russia, Brazil and Turkey come nowhere near to matching Dubai not only in terms of their airports, but also their geographic location and flag carriers.
“With Emirates in particular, leveraging Dubai's unique geographic location to pull in and take traffic through Dubai, the other candidate cities do not even have a flagship airline capable of doing the same,” he adds.
Tourism and hospitality
Dubai welcomed more than 10 million international visitors for the first time during 2012, according to official estimates, representing an increase of over 9 percent compared to the year before. Not only this, but Dubai’s hotels reaped a bumper AED18.82bn ($5.12bn) in revenues, a 17.9 percent year-on-year hike.
This is just the start of the glitzy emirate’s tourism push, however, as by the time the Expo is held in 2020 Dubai means to have doubled its number of visitors to 20 million annually. Much of this ambition will depend on whether it is awarded the rights to host the event come November.
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