By Gavin Gibbon
World showcase event, due to start in October, likely to be postponed until 2021
If Expo 2020 is to be held 12 months later in 2021 then immediate funds for the world showcase should be channelled into supporting Dubai’s fight against coronavirus, according to a leading economist.
Organisers of Expo 2020 Dubai have officially requested that the event be moved to next year in order to allow the world to eventually recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
The Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) is set to hold a virtual meeting on April 21 to discuss "options for a change of dates".
Scott Livemore, ICAEW Economic Advisor & Senior Economist at Oxford Economics, told Arabian Business Expo funds should be spent on safeguarding the emirate’s economy.
He said: “The government needs to be very active in supporting the economy and divert some of the capital spending to completing preparation for Expo 2020 to provide additional relief to SMEs and support households that have individuals who have lost their job or have been furloughed.”
Earlier this month, the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates (CBUAE) doubled to $70 billion a stimulus package to support the Gulf state's economy amid the coronavirus pandemic. as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.
Expo 2020 Dubai, the first World Expo held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region, was set to open on October 20 this year, host 192 countries and welcome some 25 million visits over the course of 173 days.
Many of the countries due to participate have been significantly impacted by Covid-19, and sought the delay to the opening of Expo 2020 Dubai by a year, to enable them to overcome this challenge.
Mohamed Al Ansaari, vice president, Communications at Expo 2020 Dubai, told Arabian Business: : “Any decision on postponement will require a two thirds majority vote by the BIE’s General Assembly. We are absolutely committed to hosting Expo 2020 and look forward to delivering an exceptional World Expo, at the right time.”
Although it will have a financial impact for the current year, Livermore also believed a postponement would be for the benefit of everyone concerned.
He said: “The postponement clearly removes one of the factors that could drive a strong recovery from the coronavirus pandemic in late 2020/early 2021. However, the lingering effects of the pandemic did mean that the Expo 2020 was at best going to get off to a very slow start.
“Delaying a year therefore makes it much likelier that Expo Dubai is a success and achieves its goals, thereby making a bigger overall contribution to the economy.”