Expo 2020 Dubai: What businesses can learn from the mega event

The success of the six-month world's fair is proof that perseverance, flexibility and passion can help us overcome challenges and achieve our targets

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Last Thursday was bittersweet for so many of us in the UAE as we bade farewell to Expo 2020 Dubai. Visiting the six-month world's fair was a staple in our weekly plans as the site served as a meeting point for world leaders, businesses, creatives, families and friends.

But what made this Expo all the more special was that it took place at a time when many global events were cancelled or postponed. At a time when movements and operations were crippled by the Covid-19 pandemic, Expo 2020 Dubai visits reached more than 24 million while maintaining all precautionary measures.

Where many face uncertainties about the future, the conversations at Expo 2020 Dubai instilled hope that the world can overcome any adversity.

Last December, I was invited by the UAE’s Ministry of Culture and Youth to speak at the World Conference on Creative Economy hosted at Dubai Exhibition Centre in the heart of Expo 2020 Dubai. Along with more than 150 speakers from across the world, we discussed challenges and opportunities and exchanged ideas to develop the sector and support creatives.

The same site also hosted the World Government Summit last week, where leaders from across the globe engaged in dialogue about governmental processes, innovation and technology, among other topics. In addition to the major event, different pavilions within Expo 2020 Dubai hosted different workshops, movie screenings, talks and poetry readings. Inspiring and thought-provoking conversations echoed throughout the site.

Though Expo 2020 Dubai lasted for only six months, it provides key lessons for businesses.

The most important in my opinion is inclusivity. Expo 2020 Dubai provided different types of experiences, from concerts and forums to workshops and more that children, adults, entrepreneurs and people from different walks of life could enjoy.

When building a business, many entrepreneurs tend to overlook this part. By becoming more inclusive in the way an experience is provided or a product is designed for their target audience, they could be building a loyal audience base and expanding their reach.

The Expo 2020 Dubai experience also proved that attention to detail is key and providing a hospitable and personal experience to your customers will get them to return.

Multiple visitor centres that included supermarkets, prayer rooms and washrooms were provided across the site that visitors could conveniently use them throughout their exploration journey. Water fountains, shaded areas, green parks, as well as F&B options that catered to all kinds of dining were also provided.

One of the key lessons I have learnt throughout my entrepreneurship journey is that customer service is a competitive advantage, and how you cater to your customers’ needs is what earns you their loyalty even amid tough competition.

But the most important lesson that Expo 2020 Dubai taught us is that when challenges arise, be flexible and go with the flow. Precautionary measures were implemented throughout the site and even amid the pandemic people enjoyed this global event.

Expo 2020 Dubai instilled hope in many of us. It was an oasis of dreams, thoughts and an opportunity to exchange dialogues that inspired us to think of positive ways to change the world.

The success of Expo 2020 Dubai is a testimony that determination, perseverance, flexibility and passion can help us overcome challenges and achieve our targets.

Expo 2020 Dubai may be behind us, but the lessons we learnt and the inspirational conversations are ingrained in many of us, and will accompany us for years to come.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi.

Updated: April 04, 2022, 4:20 AM