Expo opportunities for SMEs and graduates are outlined

Manal AlBayat, Expo 2020’s vice president of engagement, explained how small businesses are being supported to collaborate with the mega event.

Manal Al Bayat, the vice president of engagement for Dubai Expo 2020, speaks on opportunities for small businesses and graduate jobseekers at an event in Abu Dhabi. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National
Powered by automated translation

The organisers of Dubai Expo 2020 have outlined opportunities for small businesses and graduate jobseekers as they seek greater collaboration with the private sector in the UAE.

Measures to support potential suppliers include an exemption from tender bonds and guarantees for SMEs.

"The validity periods for proposals have been cut from 120 days to 60 days for SMEs … [the] payment period for SMEs is 30 days. [There is a] 25 per cent upfront payment for services, 50 per cent upfront for goods. No tender bonds required for SMEs, no guarantees required from SMEs, to not lock out their liquidity," said Manal Al Bayat, Expo 2020's vice president of engagement, at an event in Abu Dhabi co-organised by the Australian, French and Canadian business groups, the American Chamber of Commerce and the International Business Women's Group.

Any company, regardless of its size, and not necessarily located in the UAE, can approach the Expo for contracts by registering on the site esource.expo2020dubai.ae, she said.

“It is for corporates, SMEs, individuals, freelancers, artists. They will be able to see what has already gone out to the market, who has been awarded to, and what is coming out next.”

Ms Al Bayat said meetings are being held with businesses every six weeks for feedback on how to make the Expo a success.

“We look into details and invite industries. We learn from the challenges that you are facing.

“We are looking at what is going to be blowing people’s minds in 2020. In 2185, people will talk about what we deliver now.” Ms Al Bayat also detailed Expo 2020s Collaborative Entrepreneurship initiative.

“Not as CSR, but how can you incorporate an entrepreneur, an SME to be your innovation department, instead of hiring your own team,” she said.

Organisers are also working to ensure a social legacy for the region’s youth from this mega event.

Roadshows and workshops at universities across the emirates and around the world will highlight the potential for employment, Ms Al Bayat said.

This includes collaborations between corporates and universities to provide training programmes.

“Any graduate unemployed below the age of 28 can apply to our Apprentice Programme. We [have received] about 2,700 applications.”

There is also a need for 30,000 volunteers for the Expo, she said.

“They can make or break the event because the first impression when you come down off the airplane is the hospitality of the city, so we have to make sure that we train them.”

The six-month long exhibition expects to draw 25 million visitors, of which 70 per cent will be international guests.

The challenge is to design a seamless journey for travellers, Ms Al Bayat said.

“It does not matter how amazing the place is if people have to wait eight to nine hours to visit a pavilion.”

The Expo site is located strategically between Al Maktoum International Airport, Abu Dhabi International Airport, Dubai International Airport and Jebel Ali Port.

“Eighty per cent of the buildings will remain for legacy, so we have already started some conversations to see who will occupy that place when we move out,” she said.


Follow The National's Business section on Twitter