Expo 2020: Dubai's rival bidders

Like Dubai, its three rival cities have never staged the event before and are aiming to boost their global recognition by winning the right to host the six-month extravaganza
By Staff writer
Wed 27 Nov 2013 04:18 PM

Izmir, Turkey

Population: 4,005,459

Area: 855 sq km

GDP growth: 2.6%

GDP per capita: $15,200

Unemployment rate: 9.2%

Population below poverty line: 16.9%

Public debt: 36.1% of GDP (Turkey)

Urbanisation: 71.5%

Located on the western side of Turkey, Izmir’s history dates as far back as 6500 BC. A sea trading port city, it is the third-largest city in the modern Turkish Republic.

Izmir lodged a bid for the 2015 Expo and competed with Milan during the voting held on 31 March 2008 in Paris. It lost by only 21 votes but it was considered an important success and paved the way for the 2020 Expo bid, which would be the first Expo in the eastern Mediterranean region.

Izmir has always had a longstanding link with the medical sector and the city is home to Asklepion, where one of the first hospitals in the world was founded and where many famous physicians have studied and worked.

The city has many links to the health tourism sector and, as a result, the focus of the theme for its Expo bid is health tourism. Its motto is ‘New routes to a better world: Health for all’.

The aim of Izmir’s Expo will be to provide a platform for the health sector and provide the opportunity for innovators to test their novel solutions and find partners to help implement and scale their ideas.

The city has a track record for hosting large events dating back 81 years and it hosted ‘Izmir International Fair’, Turkey’s first international general commerce fair. It stages around 40 fairs each year and is home to 19 industrial and two free trade areas.

The site for the Expo is the inner city area of city’s coast area of Inciralti. In 2011 the Ministry of Culture and Tourism designated Inciralti as a touristic centre.

The 205 hectare area of Inciralti is located in close proximity to geothermal hot springs, health and physiotherapy centres is consistent with the overall theme of the Expo.

At the official presentation, the big surprise was a video message by the director-general of World Health Organisation (WHO) Margaret Chan, who announced her organisation was throwing its weight behind the Izmir Expo bid.

“We allocated a very scenic and valuable site on the sea shore for the Expo. The majority of this area will be a health and tourism zone with permanent spas, hospitals and recreation areas with hot springs,” says Mustafa Toprak, governor of Izmir and chairman of Expo 2020 Izmir Steering Board and Executive Committee.


Ekaterinburg, Russia

Population: 1.35 million

Area: 491 sq km

GDP growth: 3.4%

GDP per capita: $18,000

Unemployment rate: 5.7%

Population below poverty line: 12.7%

Public debt: 7.7% of GDP (Russia)

Urbanisation: 73.8%

Russia is aiming to host its first world’s fair in the city of Ekaterinburg, the fourth largest city in the federation.

Ekaterinburg Expo 2020 is part of Moscow’s aim to attract-large scale international events and boost the country’s global reputation. If Ekaterinburg wins, it will be the third major event Russia will stage after winning hosting rights to the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

“We believe the choice of Ekaterinburg as the host for World Expo 2020 will open up a unique opportunity for the world community to rediscover the city which was laid down by Peter the Great in 1723 as Russia’s industrial centre,” says Eric Ruslanovich Bugulov, CEO of Ekaterinburg Expo 2020 Bid Committee.

One of Russia’s fastest growing cities, its most famous resident was Boris Yeltsin. While the former president passed away in 2007 a statue was erected in his honour and its profile has risen over the last decade and it now attracts more investments than any other Russian city.

The city’s 2020 theme is ‘Global Mind’ and will focus on globalisation, its consequences, threats and challenges.

Bugulov points out the World Expo has been held 53 times, 30 in Europe and five in Asia, while Russia, a country which spans the Earth’s largest continent, Eurasia, has never hosted a world expo. “It seems symbolic that Expo 2020 will be hosted by Russia’s Ekaterinburg, a city on the eastern slope of the Ural Mountains which bridge Europe and Asia,” he says.

The city is investing billions in urban infrastructure, including modern transport systems, techno parks and attractions and one of the world’s largest housing projects.

The city is also home to 45 higher education institutions and 20 academic research institutes and is Russia’s most important technological and scientific centre.

While it may not be known to many outside Russia, it is an international city with more than 20 foreign consulates and diplomatic missions. It has previously hosted high-profile events such as the Annual Innoprom International Exhibition and Forum, the BRIC countries summit in 2009, the Dmitry Medvedev-Angela Merkel meeting in 2010 amd it will be one of the venues for the 2018 World Cup.

“Russia is expanding its engagement with the world community and political leadership through its chair of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in 2012 and the Group of 20 in 2013. The world is experiencing a revitalised and outward-looking Russia, with a young, creative and innovative-thinking population,” Bugulov says.

“There is strong support across Russia and in Ekaterinburg to host Expo 2020. The country is united behind this project, and the Russian government at all levels is committed to providing financial and diplomatic support. Public opinion polls demonstrate strong Russian enthusiasm for this initiative,” Bugulov adds.


São Paulo, Brazil

Population: 11.32 million

Area: 1,523 sq km

GDP growth: 0.9%

GDP per capita: $12,100

Unemployment rate: 5.5%

Population below poverty line: 21.4%

Public debt: 58.8% of GDP (Brazil)

Urbanisation: 87%

Brazil is aiming to host its first BIE-sanctioned world’s fair in the city of São Paulo, four years after its staging of the Rio de Janiero 2016 Summer Olympics and six years after Brazil’s hosting of the 2014 World Cup.

São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil and the world’s seventh-largest city by population and is already showcased every year as the venue for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

The city’s theme for Expo 2020 is ‘Power of Diversity, Harmony for Growth’, and it fully expresses what the city is and how it can contribute, as a major metropolis, to global society. More importantly, São Paulo is aiming to be the first Latin American city to ever hold a World Expo.

The future lifestyle of upcoming generations and the future of a world without borders will be the main theme of the debates and events held during the São Paulo Expo 2020. The themes and subthemes of the exposition focus on some of the biggest challenges that the international community should face in the next decades and how humans can combat issues such as poverty reduction and the achievement of sustainable development.

With a city population of about 11 million and almost 20 million in its metropolitan region, it has diverse mix of residents from Portugal, Italy, Spain, Germany, Japan and Lebanon. There are also large communities from Peru, Nigeria, Angola, China and South Korea.

The site for the Expo site will be a 5 million sq m green area, which will be Latin America’s largest convention and fair centre. To the plans into perspective, Anhembi, currently the largest location available for events of this kind in São Paulo, is only a quarter that size.

Already a domestic and international favourite, São Paulo currently hosts three quarters of all business events and fairs in Brazil, and it holds the 12th position in the world in terms of international events.

The exact location for the Expo site will be the neighbourhood of Pirituba, which is located 25km outside the main city and is home to 1.3 million people.

If its bid is successful this area will be the focus of substantial investments in infrastructure and other improvements that should be taking place in the coming years due to the event.

After the Expo, the buildings created to house the event will be turned in educational institutions, research and development centres, technical schools and healthcare facilities. The area will also offer leisure, sports and cultural activities and a major open-air area will be available for concerts. Expo Village apartments will be converted into social housing projects.

São Paulo is seen as Dubai’s biggest rival to land hosting duties for the World Expo 2020 and the Brazilian government has thrown its financial weight behind the bid.

Brazil’s vice president Michel Temer said he was confident about São Paulo’s chances and has pledged federal aid, if necessary, to help Brazil’s economic capital foot the $3bn bill, which could run as high as $9bn if transport infrastructure projects are included.


Ayutthaya, Thailand

Ayutthaya withdrew its bid for Expo 2020 on 11 June 2013. Ayutthaya was originally chosen over several competing regions by Thailand’s federal government and its proposed theme was ‘Redefine Globalisation: Balanced Life, Sustainable Living.’

In an interview with the Bangkok Post newspaper in June, the former president of the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) accused the government of ignoring and failing to support Thailand’s bid to host the event.


Early contenders

St Petersburg had also expressed interest in bidding for the Expo 2020 but the Russian government decided on Ekaterinburg instead.

Rio de Janeiro had also expressed interest in bidding for the Expo 2020. A decision was made to place the bid on behalf of São  Paulo instead.

Bids were also proposed by South Africa and Montreal, but never materialised. Houston, Texas considered bidding for the 2020 Expo but opted to bid for the 2025 event instead.

Plans had been made for a Silicon Valley bid for Expo 2020, but the deadline for a bid arrived before government support could be secured in time and the city may bid for the 2025 event instead.

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Last Updated: Thu 26 Jan 2017 01:27 PM GST

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