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Mon 23 Mar 2015 01:54 PM

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Dubai to offer visa, tax incentives to entice Expo 2020 exhibitors

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum says 17m of 25m expected visitors will come to Dubai from overseas

Dubai to offer visa, tax incentives to entice Expo 2020 exhibitors

Dubai is planning to offer visa, tax and duty incentives to attract exhibitors to the World Expo in 2020, according to a senior official.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman, Dubai Expo 2020 Preparatory Higher Committee, said Dubai will have a dedicated multinational team that will be able to serve as a single point of contact for participants.

He said the team will ensure diplomatic status for senior participant staff, specialised visas, fast-track immigration lanes, and duty and tax exemptions, as well as streamlined logistics systems that will facilitate processes with greater ease.

In an interview with Oxford Business Group, Sheikh Ahmed said Dubai "has a strong track record of hosting major international events", adding that Dubai Expo 2020 aims to attract 25 million visitors, with 17 million of those coming from overseas.

"We want participants to see themselves as active contributors and direct beneficiaries of the event. With this in mind, we are creating an ecosystem for participants to connect with other participants and audiences during the six-month-long event, as well as long into the future after it is over.

"Investment from countries and corporations in their expo participation is often significant and it is critical that we provide an after-use plan for some of their assets where possible."

Sheikh Ahmed stressed that infrastructure is also a key ingredient. "We now have two airports on offer for the 25m visitors expected during the expo. A new regional railway system will be in place, and the UAE will continue to serve as a significant port of call for international shipping and logistics."

Asked about how the Expo will benefit local companies, including SMEs, Sheikh Ahmed said: "Throughout the entire expo project, we will also be looking to support and create further opportunities for all business types, including SMEs.

"We expect to see growth across multiple sectors, a natural spike in job creation within the local economy and a boost in domestic consumption. SMEs will also be a key beneficiary of the wider economic impact generated by Expo 2020."

He also said the Dubai organising committee is paying close attention to how Milan is proceeding as it plans to host the World Expo in 2015 and reviewing lessons from other mega-events, such as the 2012 Olympics in London, which has been recognised for its excellent work in legacy planning.

"Every stage of Expo 2020, from preparation to delivery and transition, has been assessed as an opportunity to capture, maximise and achieve lasting benefits for Dubai, the UAE, the region and for the global community as a whole," he said.

As the first World Expo to be hosted in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia region, Dubai Expo 2020 will be a momentous landmark for the global Bureau of International Expositions community, he added.

In January, Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) said it had appointed a consortium to manage the delivery of all construction-related services related to Dubai's Expo 2020 venue.

A consortium of CH2M HILL and Mace has been hired for the Dubai Trade Centre Jebel Ali development - the master district that will host the prestigious Expo when the six month event debuts in October 2020.

Dubai Expo 2020’s host venue - Dubai Trade Centre-Jebel Ali - will be a 438-hectare site that includes the dedicated Dubai Expo 2020 area and a residential, hospitality and logistics zone.

At its peak, the Dubai Expo 2020 exhibition site at Dubai Trade Centre-Jebel Ali is designed to accommodate up to 300,000 visitors, with average week-day attendance expected at 153,000.

Running October 2020 through April 2021, the Expo will launch the country’s Golden Jubilee celebration and serve as a springboard from which to inaugurate a progressive and sustainable vision for the coming decades.