Expo 2020 Dubai impact drives decades-long growth in UAE

One year after the closing of World Expo 2020 Dubai, a study by EY finds that the economic impact of the Expo is expected to contribute a total of AED 154.9 billion of gross value added (GVA) to the economy of the UAE in the period from 2013 to 2042.

The report (available online) estimates that from the earliest stages of the preparations through to the operation of the event itself, Expo 2020 Dubai provided widespread economic value to Dubai and the UAE. It furthermore notes that the legacy phase – centred around Expo City Dubai – is expected to account for 62 per cent of the total Expo-related GVA.

Research indicates that the sectors contributing most to GVA are events organisation and business services (AED 75.5 billion), construction (AED 31.9 billion), and restaurants and hotels (AED 23.1 billion), with Expo-related activities expected to support a total of 1,039,000 full-time equivalent job-years in the period. The report also highlights the benefits for international participants in terms of trade and nation branding, as well as the broader social and cultural impact of initiatives such as the People and Planet Programme, Expo Live and the Expo School Programme.

H.E. Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and CEO, Expo City Dubai Authority, said: “From the outset, we were committed to hosting a World Expo that would achieve long-lasting economic, social and environmental benefits for the UAE, the region and the world, with positive impacts extending well beyond the six months of the event. Despite the challenges of a global pandemic, we have delivered on that promise.”

Dimitri S. Kerkentzes, Secretary General of the BIE, said: “Rooted in a shared vision for a socially and environmentally-conscious future, Expo 2020 Dubai and its legacy district Expo City Dubai constitute an indisputable platform for sustainable development in the UAE and further afield. The 182-day event surpassed all expectations as an extraordinary experience for visitors and participants, and its legacy is set to continue creating new opportunities for growth in the years to come.”

Rob Moody, Partner – Transactions & Corporate Finance, EY, said: “As the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, Expo 2020 Dubai has yielded substantial and wide-ranging long-term economic, social and environmental benefits for the UAE and communities around the world. Expo City Dubai is forecast to deliver additional growth and development and is set to support the more immediate strategic priorities and the wider future ambitions identified by the UAE.”

Expo 2020 Dubai, which was themed “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”, gathered 192 countries and received 24.1 million visits between 1 October 2021 and 31 March 2022. Its legacy city, Expo City Dubai, today constitutes a new neighbourhood of Dubai that is a blueprint for a clean, green, innovation-driven, human-centric city.

World Expos, officially known as International Registered Exhibitions, are global gatherings of nations addressing universal challenges of our time. These unparalleled global events offer a journey inside a chosen theme through engaging and immersive activities. Taking place every five years and lasting up to six months, World Expos welcome tens of millions of visitors, allow countries to build extraordinary pavilions, and transform the host city for years to come.

The next World Expo will take place in Osaka, Kansai, Japan in 2025, under the theme “Designing Future Society for Our Lives”. The following World Expo is set to take place in 2030, with the candidature process currently underway. The host country will be elected by BIE Member States during the 173rd General Assembly of the BIE in November 2023.