Business sector celebrates Dubai Expo 2020 windfall

Dubai had been seen as a favourite by the business community amid international backing for the Expo 2020.

Guests at Dubai’s Capital Club celebrate the announcement that the emirate’s bid had won the battle to host Expo 2020. Lee Hoagland / The National
Powered by automated translation

DUBAI // Business leaders jumped for joy as confetti and balloons fell from the ceiling of Dubai’s capital club yesterday in the heart of the city’s financial centre.

“We really needed the win,” said Mina Chainani, an Indian investor in Dubai as the song “One More Time” blasted through the club and Emiratis and expats congratulated each other in solidarity.

Dubai had been seen as a favourite by the business community amid international backing for the Expo 2020 that is expected to kick-start further infrastructure development and the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Foreign investors have piled millions of dollars this year into Dubai’s stock market, with net inflows of US$100 million (Dh367.3m) on the Dubai Financial Market this month alone ahead of the announcement.

“This is a momentous occasion,” said Abdulfattah Sharaf, chief executive of HSBC Middle East’s UAE operations. “With the UAE already benefiting from its significant investments and strategic location between the East and West on the world map, the opportunities this win will bring will further cement its position as a competitive global player.”

Hosting the World Expo could help Dubai’s economic growth more than double to 10.5 per cent by 2020, according to research by Barclays.

“Hosting the Expo could provide a considerable boost to the emirate’s growth and strengthen its macroeconomic outlook,” wrote Alia Moubayed, head of Mena research at Barclays, in the report.

The successful bid would help to lift GDP expansion to an average 6.4 per cent over the next three years, forecast the bank, before picking up to an average of 10.5 per cent in the 2018 to 2021 period. Economic growth reached 4.9 per cent in the first half of the year, according to Dubai Statistics Centre.

The transport, trade and tourism sectors which make nearly half of the economy, would benefit most, said Barclays.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of the Dubai Expo 2020 High Committee, said Dubai needs to spend $8.1 billion (Dh29.7bn) to build necessary infrastructure for the Expo.

Barclays expects the government to cover some of the costs but the lion’s share to come from government-linked companies.

Tributes rolled in yesterday from business leaders across the country.

“Dubai has the adequate expertise and unique geographical location to once again prove to the world that we are a city that does not know boundaries,” said AbdulAziz Al Ghurair, the chief executive of Mashreq.

The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre even pledged to name what is expected to be the world’s tallest tower in the freezone “Burj 2020”. The building is expected to break ground in 2015.

“We are honoured to dedicate the world’s tallest commercial tower to this historic win, said DMCC chairman, Ahmed bin Sulayem