Expo 2020: A year to go

Welcome to this special edition of Business Line, coming to you from a brand new area in the emirate that’s currently under construction in the desert of the UAE. World Expo 2020 will open its doors a year from now, marking the very first event of its kind to take place in the middle east. Organisers hope it’ll attract close to twelve million foreign visitors – and it’s expected to add over €30 billion to the UAE’s economy.

Some 190 countries will participate in the six-month-long event, with over 80 nations already chosen to build their own pavilions. Major construction work has already been completed and the project recently reached a significant milestone. The Dome In mid-September, about 800 construction experts gathered for a mission unlike any other: the crowning of the dome . It will be the very epicentre of Expo 2020. It measures 130-metres-wide and is over 67 metres tall. Ahmed Al-Khatib, Chief Development and Delivery Officer for Expo 2020 said, “We had the best team from all over the world, from engineers from contractors from specialists, to do this entire process. We have achieved something that really puts a new iconic landmark in Dubai.”

Design concept The idea behind the 724,000 cubic metre structure is inspired by everyday life. Gordon Gill is the Architect (Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture) and explains the design concept, “When we presented the project we defined it as the room or the living room for Expo and as a typology of having a garden within a structure of that scale I think that’s very unique and very rare. You compound that by presenting a 360-degree completely immersive experience that is both visible from the inside and the outside because the fabric is fiberglass and transmits light that is extraordinarily unique. The technology behind it is special, it’s never been done before.”

Local economy The project so far has come in under budget, which HSBC previously valued at €6.2 billion. While some cities haven’t always seen enough long-term benefits from hosting an expo, Dubai could be the exception. Global consultancy firm Ernst and Young predict the event could add 1.5% to the UAE’s annual GDP. Shaun Vorster, Vice President of Programming, Expo 2020 said, “We are planning for 25 million visits. To make 25 million visits concrete, it is like taking the whole population of a country like Australia visiting one destination in a six-month period. That’s our level of ambition.” Business benefits to other countries Dubai has huge ambitions when it comes to Expo 2020. But what are the business benefits for participating countries?

We took the view of New Zealand’s Commissioner-General, Clayton Kimpton, to find out why his country is betting big on Expo. Jane: “Clayton Kimpton thank you so much for joining us. There are 192 countries that are going to be coming to Dubai for the Expo. How is New Zealand going to stand out?” Clayton: “Well, we see ourselves as creative, innovative… looking for solutions to problems that are good for the world.” Jane: “And there’s also a rich kind of heritage and history of New Zealand that’s explored throughout those themes.” Clayton: “That’s right. we’ve made sure that our indigenous people, the Maori, the values that they bring are at the core of what we do. we’re not just a country that looks after the environment. We see that the environment and the people are inextricably linked. and if we look after each other that will be good for future generations.” Jane: “Your biggest trading partners are Australia, America, and Japan – What scope does an event like this bring to take that further? Clayton: “Well trade is incredibly important to New Zealand and whilst those countries you mentioned and China and US are very big trading partners we’re not leaving all eggs in one basket.” Jane: “Well the UAE is your 10th largest trading partner. How are you looking to develop that relationship and strengthen it moving forward?” Clayton: “The UAE is important not just for what we sell here but for the re-export into North Africa into Central Asia and Europe. So we want to see that really develop and grow. There are already a number of New Zealand companies here and we want to see that grow as they set up much larger head offices here and regional offices to re-export what they make. Jane: “So dairy products meat and wine are some of your biggest exports. What are the avenues and areas of industry you know, say technology will you be looking to push further?” Clayton: “We have a very big film production industry which is massive.

The IT sector, health, education, technology and we want to see those grow. We don’t want to see the others diminish. but we’re looking to really push those other areas as well. We believe New Zealand comes up with amazing solutions that are not only good for us but are good for the world and that’s what we’re going to bring to Expo. Creating a lasting legacy hosting.