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Sun 3 May 2020 08:29 AM

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Expo in 2021 can act as 'celebration' to unite world post-Covid-19: Mohamed Alabbar

Chairman of Emaar Properties believes gradual recovery could see UAE business back to normal by middle of next year

Expo in 2021 can act as 'celebration' to unite world post-Covid-19: Mohamed Alabbar

Alabbar supported the delay of Expo 2020 in light of the current coronavirus pandemic.

The chairman of Emaar Properties, Mohamed Alabbar, has backed the recommendation to postpone Expo 2020 for a year and said the rearranged event can act as a “celebration” in a world free from coronavirus.

The request from Expo organisers in the UAE to move the event to run from October 1 – March 31, 2021, was backed by the executive committee of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) last month.

It is now being put to a remote vote of member states until May 29.

Alabbar supported the delay in light of the current coronavirus pandemic.

In an interview with John Defterios, emerging markets editor, CNN International, he said: “I'm 100 per cent sure the vaccine will be with us even if it goes to next year March or April, and I believe by October we should be all fine to really use Expo as a time of celebration and re-unite the world after these times.”

The UAE has just recently announced a relaxation on the strict lockdown measures that lasted almost three weeks and saw shopping malls closed as well as a host of other tight restrictions, to curb the spread of coronavirus. Malls, including Emaar’s flagship Dubai Mall, can reopen at 30 percent capacity.

The move has been welcomed by Alabbar, although he sounded a word of caution that the effects of Covid-19 will be felt for some time to come.

He said: “I expect that we really have to go gradually, moving upward towards the end of the year, if there’s no major outbreak there, then probably into end the of the first quarter next year to mid-next year maybe we’re back to normal."

As part of efforts to minimise the impact of Covid-19 on the country’s economy, the UAE Government announced a AED282 billion stimulus package, providing fiscal and monetary support.

Alabbar believed such measures, including further waivers on rents and utility bills, will place Dubai, in particular, in good stead for a quick recovery.

He said: “Global cities will go through change and adjustment, some better than others. With size of this city and the policy of government and no dependence on oil, the chance of this city to go back, it will go back, and we will be in better shape.”

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