British companies to benefit from Dubai Expo 2020 bid win

The United Arab Emirates is set to award $35bn in construction and other supplier contracts in 2014 on the back of the Dubai Expo 2020 award. Two British businesses, Arup and Mace, helped on the winning Dubai bid, while a third, HOK, is leading the design of the Expo site.

Crowds in Dubai celebrated the emirate winning the right to host the Expo in 2020. Dubai saw off bids from Izmir in Turkey, Sao Paolo in Brazil and Russia’s Ekaterinburg.

According to regional project tracker MEED Projects, the total value of contracts awarded in the UAE during 2013 will close out at approximately $30bn, with the Expo likely to lead to a boost of US5bn on that figure for 2014. Julian Herbert, Director of MEED Projects expects that a number of new developments will be announced on the back of the successful Dubai Expo 2020 bid.

Business analysts have pointed out that on the back of the 2012 Olympic Games showcase for British events skills, bids such as the Dubai Expo and involvement in it show how profitable an export earner this sector can be.

H.E. Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing and CEO of Dubai World Trade Centre, greeted the news of the Expo 2020 successful bid:

“From the outset, Dubai’s Expo bid was part of the government’s long-term vision that ensures sustainable national development and a prosperous future for the UAE. Hosting Expo 2020 is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and one that will be maximised to accelerate the growth of the tourism industry in Dubai, the UAE and the wider GCC region,” he said.

With property prices increasing at their fastest pace since the 2008 when real estate prices crashed by 50 per cent and the emirate turned to neighbouring Abu Dhabi for a $20bn loan, the real-estate market seems set to lead growth in the region’s construction market.

The improvement in the construction market over the last two years was largely driven by infrastructure investment and a handful of projects from large developers such as Emaar and TDIC.

There is a fear, however, that if a flood of new projects comes to market as a result of the successful Expo 2020 bid, along with the award of mega projects in Doha, Riyadh and Jeddah, there is a risk many schemes could suffer from inflation in costs.

Some of the major infrastructure projects expected over the next few years include the expansion of the Dubai Metro Red line; new concourses at the recently opened Maktoum International Airport; interchanges on the Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed road; and the construction of the main Expo 2020 centre close to the airport.

An opportunity to hear insights from senior Dubai stakeholders about the bid process and the emirate’s long-term vision for events comes at the Host Cities Summit to be held at the Park Hyatt Hotel, 4-5 December in Dubai.

The conference features two days of case studies, breakout sessions and panel discussions on how cities bid for, plan and successfully run large-scale events for a positive and lasting economic and social legacy.

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Paul Colston


Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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