Expo bid helps put UAE on global events map

Nine UAE federal ministers and high-ranking officials are in Paris for the final stretch to galvanise support to bring Expo 2020 to Dubai.

Dubai has been unrelenting in its bid to build up support, both home and abroad, to be the host city for World Expo 2020. Kamran Jebreili / AP Photo
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PARIS // Teamwork on a local and national scale has ensured the Emirates is recognised as a major destination for global events, senior UAE officials have said.

Nine UAE federal ministers and high-ranking officials are in Paris for the final stretch to galvanise support to bring Expo 2020 to Dubai.

The UAE hosted its second and final official reception on Monday at the Palais Brogniart, an architectural heritage site that was once the city’s stock exchange.

The campaign hit a high note at the reception with a surprise performance by singer Celine Dion. The famous Italian tenor Tino Favazza and popular Lebanese singer Yara also performed.

Each candidate city is given two opportunities to host receptions during the bid. Turkey’s, due to be held on Tuesday night, will be the last official function before Wednesday’s vote to select the world fair winner.

Optimistic about Dubai’s chances, senior UAE officials said the experience and knowledge gained from the bidding process was immeasurable.

“The UAE bid is strong in merit and I hope it will be received as such by the Bureau International des Expositions,” said Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

“It was a wonderful opportunity not only for Dubai and the UAE, but for the entire region to have a strong bid in a prestigious competition. It also showed a team effort not only of the local and federal government but also of businesses and the people of the UAE, both locals and expats. Everyone made an effort to build support for the UAE.

“Realistically we are facing strong and well respected countries who have already done so much politically, economically and socially,” said Sheikh Abdullah.

“Whatever the result, Dubai was shown as an international city on the same footing as the other competing countries that may have traditions and culture older than ours, but we have tried our very best.”

Sultan Al Mansouri, the Minister of Economy, said local and federal officials had concentrated on winning to make Dubai’s the most successful and unique Expo in the world.

“We have learnt a lot about how to compete, how to prepare the bid and so what has been achieved on the ground cannot be measured,” he said. “There will be big economic gains, we could utilise funds for infrastructure development and our focus was on attracting 25 million people and through word of mouth maybe 100 million over three to four years.”

Mr Al Mansouri said the country’s economy continued to grow and development would not cease whatever the outcome.

“There is natural growth in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and other cities and we will continue with our infrastructure plans. There are also a lot of new ideas that can be added.”

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of Emirates Group and of Dubai Expo 2020, said the bid was important for the region.

“We feel confident about the process,” he said. “Development will continue regardless of what happens because the UAE attracts people and businesses. It is not only for Dubai or the UAE but for the more than 2 billion people in the region, it is for everybody.”

The use of social media by the young to reach out to their parents, officials and the Expo organisers also came in for special mention.

Suhail Al Mazrouei, the Minister of Energy, said while the team was optimistic, the competition was tough and had worked equally hard.

“The decision is very close to National Day and if in our favour the celebrations will be double. But the bid has given not just Dubai but countries in the region hope that they can try to become one of the best around the world.”

The BIE general assembly began on Tuesday and will work on review progress reports on exhibitions, such as the Expo Milano 2015, the Horticultural Expo Antalya 2016 and Expo Astana 2017.

rtalwar@thenational.ae