Let Expo 2020 be showcase to the world, Minister of State urges business

DUBAI // Business chiefs were urged yesterday to play their part in the “Expo Effect” that is bringing billions of dollars of investment and economic benefit to the UAE.

“Build a true knowledge economy, give us your thinking, let Expo be your test bed for new technologies, let it be your showcase to the world,” said Reem Al Hashimi, Minister of State and director general of the Expo 2020 Bureau.

“I’m talking about creating jobs, I’m talking about education. It’s about doing something important for the world.”


Ms Al Hashemi was speaking to a “who’s who” of the business community in a gathering at the Expo 2020 site in Jebel Ali. Among more than 200 industry chiefs there were the Jumeirah chief executive Gerald Lawless, the Aramex founder Fadi Ghandour, the du chief executive Osman Sultan and the Dubai World Trade Centre chief executive Helal Almarri.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, said Expo-related projects in Dubai and throughout the country by 2020 would boost the economy and create jobs for young people, and he called for an exchange of ideas to this end.

Analysts estimate that the world fair in 2020 will bring US$8 billion in investment to the UAE, nearly Dh30bn, and boost the economy by by about $25bn. The expo organisers’ own forecasts show about Dh70bn in economic benefits by 2021 and the creation of more than 275,000 jobs in the region over the next six years.

The audience of business leaders was given an early glimpse yesterday of what Expo 2020 will look like, with images on a big screen showing drawings and designs.

“The site may not look like much today, but we turn yellow sand into a living breathing vibrant community,” Ms Al Hashimi said.

“What we intend to do with these buildings dwarfs even the massive undertaking of constructing them. Come and create with us.”

Winning the right to host the event, which Dubai did in 2013, has “demonstrated that the UAE is a significant player on the world stage”, she said.

The key challenges facing the region, such as water scarcity and the need for education and more jobs, could be met only through a combined effort, Ms Al Hashimi said.

“Now is the perfect time to bring our business leaders together. We need your support. We need to build and take advantage of the Expo Effect.”

Expo organisers said their aim was to elevate the conversation with the business community towards discussing partnerships, and moving beyond inquiries about procurement and supply contracts for the event.

Business leaders said they believed the expo would benefit the economy and their businesses, but had not yet determined by how much.

Badr Jafar, chief executive of Crescent Enterprises and a columnist with The National, said the event was “a phenomenal opportunity” for the private sector to get behind the Expo.

malrawi@thenational.ae

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