United States: Dubai To Host Expo 2020: The Anticipated Economic Boost

Last Updated: May 9 2014

The recent announcement by the Dubai government that work will begin early next year on the site for Dubai Expo 2020 represents an exciting time in Dubai's economic development. Dubai was selected to host the world expo trade convention in 2020 ("Dubai Expo 2020") at the end of 2013, and the award of the event is likely to generate significant economic benefits for Dubai and the UAE as a whole. Considered to be the third-largest global event in terms of economic and cultural impact, after the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup, the event attracts millions of visitors to the host nation during its six-month duration, is likely to attract substantial foreign investment into the UAE, and will build upon Dubai's core economic sectors of financial services, construction, tourism, and hospitality.

What is the World Expo?

The world expo is a universal exposition sanctioned by the Bureau of International Expositions and organized every five years by the nation that wins the right to host the event. Approximately 182 countries and companies are expected to participate in Dubai Expo 2020. The purpose of the world expo is to provide a platform for the global community to share innovations and engage in debate about key issues facing the world.

Dubai Expo 2020 will be the first world expo to be held in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia region, and it will run for a six-month period between October 2020 and April 2021.

What is the Potential Impact of the World Expo on Dubai?

Dubai Expo 2020 is expected to include a significant contribution to the non-oil-based economy of Dubai and the wider UAE. Although the precise impact of Dubai Expo 2020 is difficult to predict, there is little doubt it is an event of significant importance to the UAE economy as a whole. According to analysts, Dubai Expo 2020 is likely to generate approximately US$23 billion (24.4 percent of Dubai's current GDP) between the years 2015 and 2021, and it is likely to boost Dubai's economic growth to an average 6.4 percent a year from 2014 to 2016, and potentially to 10.5 percent by 2020. These figures are calculated based on the total spending by the Dubai government, participants, visitors, and general commercial activity related to the event.

The hosting of Dubai Expo 2020 will require substantial investments from the Dubai government across a range of infrastructure and related projects. A total spend of US$8.7 billion is believed to have been allocated for Dubai Expo 2020 related investment. UAE authorities have predicted a windfall of up to US$17.7 billion in the event that Dubai Expo 2020 is a success.

The large government spending associated with Dubai Expo 2020 will in turn generate significant commercial opportunities for the private sector. Dubai Expo 2020 will require the implementation of many significant new projects and the acceleration of other projects that have otherwise been suspended during the global financial crisis. Some estimates predict that, over the next six years, the UAE could attract as much as US$100 billion to US$150 billion in foreign direct investment across a range of industry sectors, including financial services, infrastructure, construction, real estate, hospitality, tourism, and transportation.

Which Sectors Are Expected to Benefit the Most?

Infrastructure and Transportation. As part of Dubai's ongoing development as a global transportation hub for passengers and cargo, and in advance of Dubai winning the right to host the expo, the Dubai government had committed billions of dollars to expanding and upgrading its existing airport infrastructure. Dubai International Airport ("DIA") is currently ranked as the second-busiest airport in the world by international passenger traffic and is already an important contributor to Dubai's economy. DIA is currently undergoing an expansion costing US$7.8 billion, including the construction of concourse 3 and concourse 4 and expansion of terminals 1 and 2.

At the end of 2013, Dubai opened a second major international airport, Al Maktoum International Airport ("AMIA"), which once completed will be the world's largest airport, with a capacity to handle 160 million passengers per year. The development of AMIA includes the creation of an integrated sea and air freight facility that is expected to play an important part in Dubai's general transportation infrastructure and in servicing Dubai Expo 2020.

In order to cater to the millions of additional people who are expected to visit Dubai in the years leading up to Dubai Expo 2020 and during the event, it is expected that Dubai will accelerate the development of AMIA and its adjacent sea and air freight facility in addition to expediting many of its other plans to build out related infrastructure and launch new projects to increase road, urban transportation, and air capacity. Dubai's Road and Transport Authority has recently announced that it will now expedite plans for a US$1.4 billion extension of Dubai's metro rail line.

Construction and Real Estate. The Dubai government has earmarked significant funds for necessary infrastructure development focusing specifically on the construction, real estate, and hospitality industries. Each of these sectors is likely to be the immediate beneficiary of Dubai Expo 2020.

The site for the venue of Dubai Expo 2020 is a 4.3 million square-meter (438-hectare) plot strategically located between the two major emirates of the UAE, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and next to the new Al Maktoum International Airport in Jebel Ali. The site will house the expo headquarters and is estimated to include 700,000 square meters of pavilions and other venue space, and 500,000 square meters of permanent structures. The cost of constructing the expo site and related infrastructure is estimated to be US$6.9 billion.

The construction and real estate sector will also benefit from a massive expansion in Dubai's hotel capacity that is required to accommodate the 25 million expected visitors. There will also be significant residential real estate projects undertaken for the purpose of supplying the housing needs of expatriates and laborers relocating to Dubai in the years leading up to Dubai Expo 2020 and during the event itself. Dubai Expo 2020 is also expected to have a major impact on demand for office space, as international logistics and marketing companies expand in Dubai to service related event-driven demand.

One of the most significant real estate and retail developments ongoing in Dubai, which will be phased in during the run-up to Dubai Expo 2020, is Mohammed Bin Rashid City. The master plan for this development includes plans for the world's largest shopping mall, more than 100 hotels, a Universal Studios franchise, and a large public park. There is a common belief that further large-scale real estate and retail projects will be announced in the run-up to Dubai Expo 2020 and form part of the wider expo experience to be provided by Dubai.

Hospitality and Tourism. Dubai Expo 2020 is projected to attract 25 million visitors over a period of six months, with more than 70 percent of these coming from outside the UAE.

The impact on Dubai's hospitality industry is likely to be significant. The Dubai government has calculated that up to 45,000 additional hotel rooms, to be added to the existing 82,000 room supply, will be required in Dubai to accommodate the large number of non-UAE visitors.

While Dubai already has a number of hotels, very few are close to the Dubai Expo 2020 site, and currently few focus on the important mid-range sector. An array of hotel construction projects are therefore expected to be launched, near or close to the Dubai Expo 2020 site, as well as in other parts of the city, which once completed will double the number of available hotel rooms in Dubai.

The total investment in hotel capacity required by 2020 is estimated to be US$7.2 billion.

Energy Demands. By the beginning of the year 2020, Dubai's electricity consumption is expected to reach 9.6 gigawatts, representing a 50 percent jump from 2012 levels. Although the stated ambition of the Dubai Supreme Energy Council is to reduce energy demand by 30 percent in the coming years, the anticipated consumption levels create a major challenge for Dubai in hosting Dubai Expo 2020.

In the run-up to the expo, a mix of energy generated from coal, nuclear, and solar sources is anticipated to cater to the demand. Dubai is currently planning various independent power projects ("IPPs"), including the development of the second phase of its 100 megawatt ("MW") solar park (the first phase was built by a U.S. contractor and opened in October 2013) and a 1,200 MW clean-coal-fired IPP at Hassyan in Dubai.

In addition, Abu Dhabi has embarked on a US$30 billion plan to construct the first nuclear power plants in the UAE, with the first (of four) scheduled to start supplying electricity in 2017. By 2020, all four plants are expected to be in operation, producing 5,600 MW of nuclear energy—25 percent of the UAE's expected energy needs.

Dubai Expo 2020's stated aim is to deliver an expo that is environmentally sound, setting new standards in the planning and execution of mega-events. With a target of generating 50 percent of the energy requirements from renewable sources on-site, Dubai Expo 2020 will attempt to showcase the first large-scale application of building-integrated photovoltaic and solar technology, setting a new benchmark for future mega-events. Additional sustainability criteria have been set by the Dubai government to monitor the carbon footprint of the event, achieve neutral water balance, and manage material recycling and reuse.

Enhanced Economic Development. As a direct consequence of the expected significant increase of investments in the financial services, hospitality and tourism, and construction and real estate sectors, Dubai Expo 2020 is likely to spur economic development in Dubai, the UAE, and the wider region.

The Dubai government has estimated that Dubai Expo 2020 will create more than 277,000 new job opportunities in the UAE, across various sectors, including business services, retail, construction, hotels, hospitality, and transportation.

Analysts have suggested that Dubai Expo 2020 will have a significant impact on the wider Middle East region, with some estimates predicting that for every expo-related job created in the UAE, 60 additional roles will be generated across North Africa and the Middle East.

The Dubai government's forecast that Dubai Expo 2020 will create additional new jobs over the next seven years is likely to also lead to sharper population growth and, as a result, greater demand for basic utilities from the government, such as power and electricity.


Dubai's success in winning the right to host the Dubai Expo 2020 is likely to result in enhanced foreign investment into the UAE across industry sectors as international corporations seek to maximize on the opportunity. With an announcement this week by the Dubai government that work will begin early next year on the Dubai Expo 2020 site, it is clear that preparations to monetize the event are well underway.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions