Monday, March 4, 2013

Dubai gets my vote for Expo 2020

They came. They saw. They heard. They spoke. They left…
We wait!
That’s for the decision on whether or not Dubai is chosen to host Expo 2020.
We wait, but not in silence, as all of us in the Emirates, nationals and expatriates, support Dubai’s bid to host the world showcase.
“Philosophically, politically, creatively, logistically, Dubai is already coming together to deliver a World Expo that will inspire all who experience it and live long in the collective memory,” the bid announces, and I can easily believe that.
I very much support Dubai Expo 2020 because I decided to move here seven years ago and be part of the dream of building and transforming the Emirates into a great Gulf/Arab nation-state.
Expo '67 in Montreal: The Dome, Habitat '67 and the Soviet pavilion
I also support the bid because I had the opportunity in 1970 to visit the site of Expo ’67 in Montreal. Although it was three years since the end of the world fair there, the site – newly created islands in the St. Lawrence River and the existing Île Sainte-Hélène -- was still a crowd-getter for all visitors to Montreal or Canada generally.
Of course, I couldn’t look up all 90 pavilions at Expo ’67, representing “Man and His World” themes, but I do remember touring the iconic U.S. pavilion – a geodesic dome designed by Buckminster Fuller; Habitat ‘67 modular housing complex designed by architect Moshe Safdie -- and the sought-after Soviet pavilion, which pulled some 13 million visitors. Sadly, I can’t find my photos!
But back to Dubai, where a delegation from the International Exhibitions Bureau (IEB) dropped by last week to assess the emirate’s bid.
Brazil, Russia, Thailand and Turkey are also vying to host Expo 2020. The winner will be announced in November 2013 following a vote by the 163 IEB member nations.
Steen Christiansen meets with Sheikh Mo
The Enquiry Mission, headed by Steen Christiansen, chairman of the IEB Executive Committee, met with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on February 26.
Sheikh Mo tweets his confidence in the UAE Expo 2020 bid

Sheikh Mo (as we affectionately call him) said he “shared with the delegation our president's welcome message and his personal support for the UAE to win the bid to host the exhibition. I am confident the UAE has what it takes to host the biggest event in the history of Expo in 2020 and to impress the rest of the world.”
Christiansen said: “We have had a productive and enjoyable visit to the UAE and thank the leadership for their hospitality. We have been particularly impressed by the country’s robust infrastructure and the level of national support for the bid.”
The mission’s four-day visit was to assess the UAE’s aptitude for welcoming 25 million would-be visitors, of which 70 percent would come from abroad for the first time in World Expo history.
The IEB press conference on February 28 (Gulf News)
“We have been particularly impressed by the country’s robust infrastructure and the level of national support for the bid. The UAE has put forward a strong case to hold Expo 2020 in Dubai -- the vision of the project is clear and lined to the traditions and values of World Expos,” Christensen said.
After visiting Russia and Brazil, the IEB Enquiry Mission will prepare a report detailing their recommendation to the member states.
Gulf News gave 14 reasons, among many, why Dubai should win the Expo 2020 bid:
  1. Dubai and the UAE have a ready platform of airports, ports and road transport systems.
  2. Dubai’s strategic global location between the East and the West makes it the most sought-after destination for the Expo.
  3. There are approximately 200 nationalities living in the UAE, making the country truly global.
  4. The proposed Expo site, Dubai Trade Center in Jebel Ali, is situated next to the new Dubai World Central -- home to Al Maktoum International Airport, and is equidistant between Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
  5. The site, spanning 438 hectares, is located adjacent to Jebel Ali Port, providing easy access to the 25 million international and local visitors expected.
  6. Dubai’s two airports -- Dubai International and DWC-Al-Maktoum International -- are best geared to handle the Expo traffic in 2020.
  7. Dubai International will be the world’s busiest airport by 2020 in terms of passenger throughput.
  8. Dubai Logistics City is part of a single customs-bonded free zone linked to Jebel Ali Port, the sixth largest in the world, and the Jebel Ali Free Zone, home to more than 6,400 companies.
  9. Dubai had around 15 million tourists last year, while Abu Dhabi managed to attract 2 million. And the number is only set to grow with each passing year.
  10. The hotel supply in the UAE is expected to increase at a compounded annual growth rate of 5.3 percent from 96,992 hotel rooms in Dubai and Abu Dhabi to 125,383 hotel rooms in the two emirates by 2016. And a successful 2020 Expo bid will increase that.
  11. Today it does not take business owners more than three days to start up their businesses officially in Dubai.
  12. By 2020, the emirate will be able to offer enough transport links to accommodate about 25 million visitors for Expo 2020.
  13. The mass-transit options for Expo 2020 will include zero-emission buses, new Metro stations and dedicated lanes on key arterial roads to take visitors to the planned site at Dubai Trade Center -- Jebel Ali.
  14. Both Dubai and the UAE are dynamic and multicultural destinations capable of giving the world an exciting and dynamic event.
The IEB, an intergovernmental organization created to supervise international exhibitions, was established in Paris in 1928 with two goals:
  • to oversee the calendar, the bidding, the selection and the organization of World Expositions; and
  • to establish a regulatory framework under which Expo organizers and participants may work together under the best conditions.
The USA had its membership of the IEB withdrawn in June 2001 due to Congress not allocating membership funds for two years.
Since the start of the 21st century, Universal Expos occur every five years, lasting six months, on “5” and “0” ending years, i.e. Expo 2010 in Shanghai, Expo 2015 in Milan.
Expos average at least 200,000 visitors per day and some 50 to 70 million visitors during their six-month duration. Montreal's Expo ‘67 attracted 54 million visitors; Osaka’s Expo ’70, 64 million; Seville Expo '92, 41 million; and Shanghai's Expo 2010, 70 million visitors.
Dubai’s theme
“Connecting Minds, Creating the Future,” is the theme for the UAE’s Expo bid.
In today’s highly interconnected world, “a renewed vision of progress and development based on shared purpose and commitment is key. While a single human mind, an individual country, or a specific community is both unique and remarkable, it is by working collaboratively that we truly advance. Dubai Expo 2020 will be a platform for connectivity to help pioneer new partnerships for growth and sustainability for the future,” Dubai’s Expo 2020 site writes.
The UAE is logistically ready to host a World Expo. Two thirds of the world’s population now lives within an eight-hour flight of Dubai. Just fewer than nine million visitors made the trip here last year. Some 80,000-plus hotel rooms will keep visitors comfortable during their stay for the Expo. Unrivalled connectivity, superb logistics and world-class infrastructure are at the heart of our bid.
Last year alone, more than 51 million passengers travelled through Dubai International Airport, where 150 airlines serve 220 destinations on six continents. Dubai Airport is now poised to be the world’s busiest international airport by 2015.
Hallmark events
World Expos are “the hallmark events of a world aspiring to strengthen its connections, celebrate its cultural diversity and marvel at its technological wonders.” Each one is a catalyst for economic, cultural and social transformation and generates important legacies for the host city and nation.
The Great Exhibition at The Crystal Palace in 1851
The best-known first World Expo was held in The Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London, in 1851, under the title "Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations." The Great Exhibition, as it is often called, was an idea of Prince Albert, Queen Victory’s husband. It is considered as the first international exhibition of manufactured products. It influenced the development of several aspects of society, including art-and-design education, international trade and relations, and tourism.
Dubai can boast to have many strengths and advantages to see its bid succeed. And in addition to those listed above, I would add security, good weather and hospitality. What would you add?
I can’t wait to hear the result in November.