A multicultural metropolis that counts more than 200 nationalities among its residents, the UAE is used to welcoming the world to its doorstep. And with that in mind, it is fitting to hear that the UAE is bidding to hold the 2020 World Expo in Dubai: as is apparent to the millions of people who live in or visit the emirate every year, innovation and global interconnectedness are woven into the very fabric of the city.
Under the theme Connecting Minds, Creating the Future, Dubai is building its bid on three key sub-themes representing the forces that inspire global development: sustainability (lasting sources of energy and water), mobility (smart systems of logistics and transportation), and opportunity (new paths to economic development). If the bid is successful, as many as 25 million visitors will be expected to stream into the emirate’s purpose-built exhibition space, Dubai Trade Centre Jebel Ali, over a six-month period in 2020.
The UAE would become the first country in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia region to hold a World Expo. And the event would represent another milestone in the 150-year history of the World Expo movement, which began in Hyde Park, London in 1851 and has since educated and entertained millions of people across the world: for the first time, as much as 70% of visitors to a World Expo in Dubai would be international.
A 2020 World Expo in Dubai would also coincide with the UAE’s Golden Jubilee. In the 41 years since the country was founded it has established itself as a leader among the fast-emerging economies of the region; by the time it reaches its half-century, the UAE will have further cemented its position as a key trade and tourism hub linking East and West, and North and South. The country is within a four-hour flight of nearly one-third of the world’s population, and so the opportunity to glimpse the very latest in technological, architectural and cultural advancements, is likely to prove irresistible to a worldwide audience.
Dubai is competing against four other candidate cities bidding to host the 2020 World Expo, including Ayutthaya (Thailand); Ekaterinburg (Russia); Izmir (Turkey); and Sao Paulo (Brazil). The winning city will be announced in November 2013 following a vote by the 161 member nations of the Bureau International des Expositions – the international body responsible for overseeing the bidding, selection and organisation of World Expos. Many of the world’s best-known inventions, including the telephone and typewriter, were unveiled to the public for the first time at past World Expos; who knows what might emerge from Dubai in 2020?