Expo 2020 Dubai expected to add $42bn to UAE economy until 2042, EY says

Events and business services, construction and restaurants and hotels are sectors that will contribute the most to the economy

Expo City Dubai has repurposed more than 80 per cent of the infrastructure built for the world's fair, according to EY. EPA
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Expo 2020 Dubai and its legacy are expected to contribute Dh154.9 billion ($42.2 billion) in gross value added (GVA) to the UAE economy from 2013 to 2042, according to a report by consultancy EY.

The Expo, which welcomed 24.1 million visits during its six-month run from October 2021, is also expected to support more than a million full-time equivalent (FTE) job years, equal to more than 35,000 FTE jobs per annum in the UAE over the same period, the London-based consultancy said.

The sectors contributing most to GVA — a measure of economic productivity — are events and business services (Dh75.5 billion), followed by construction (Dh31.9 billion) and restaurants and hotels (Dh23.1 billion), the report said.

Expo City unveils its plans for apartments and villas

Expo City unveils its plans for apartments and villas

The pre-event phase contributed about a quarter of GVA while the event itself added about 13 per cent.

The lion’s share of economic benefits — 62 per cent — will be felt in the legacy phase through to 2042, according to EY.

“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,” said Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Co-operation and chief executive of Expo City Dubai Authority.

“Despite the challenges of a global pandemic, we have delivered on that promise.”

Expo 2020 Dubai hastened the recovery of the UAE’s tourism, aviation and hospitality sectors from the coronavirus-induced slowdown, aided by the country’s effective management of the pandemic and the easing of travel restrictions.

Leisure and business travel, hotel occupancy rates, room revenue and footfall at shopping malls improved because of the influx of tourists drawn to the six-month mega event, analysts said.

Emirates airline registered healthy seat load factors and strong travel demand to the emirate across its network during the Expo, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed, Emirates group chairman and chief executive, told The National last year.

“One year since we closed our doors, this [EY] report confirms that Expo 2020 Dubai was a triumph — a milestone event that is substantially boosting our nation’s economy, and whose ripple effects are continuing to enhance our city’s international profile, driving new business growth and attracting globally significant events such as the UN Climate Change Conference of Parties [Cop28], which our legacy city, Expo City Dubai, is proud to host in November 2023,” Ms Al Hashimy said.

Legacy considerations were at the forefront of planning from the outset, and Expo City Dubai repurposed more than 80 per cent of the infrastructure built for the six months of the event, according to EY.

The venue forms an integral part of the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan.

Expo City Dubai launched the first phase of residential developments — including villas, townhouses and apartments — for sale earlier this month. Prices start from Dh1.2 million.

Construction onthe site in Dubai South has begun, with plans to complete the first phase of villas and apartments by January 2026.

“As the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and the South Asia 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,” Rob Moody, partner responsible for transactions and corporate finance at EY, said.

“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.”

Research has shown that Expo 2020 Dubai also supported progress on a global scale, with the 192 participating countries reporting benefits in terms of trade and business partnerships, nation branding and cultural understanding, as well as international diplomacy and co-operation, according to EY.

Road to Cop28 launch event at Expo City Dubai — in pictures

The legacy of the 182-day event is set to continue, creating new opportunities for growth in the years to come, Dimitri Kerkentzes, secretary general of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIS), the organiser of the world's fair, said.

An Expo 2020 Dubai closing report, which covers the decision to submit a bid to host the event through to its design, construction and operations, as well as its highlights, achievements, impact and legacy, was submitted to the BIS earlier this month.

Updated: March 31, 2023, 7:19 AM