Exciting times are up ahead for the UAE, and for Dubai in particular. The news of Dubai winning the bid for the world fair back in 2013 was met with celebrations and cheer, catapulting the relatively small country into the eyes of the world. But it isn’t just national pride that’s set to see a boost- Dubai’s economy is going to get a major shot in the arm as well.

To understand the economical impact of the Expo, we must first look at its historical and socio-cultural significance. The World Expo is considered to be the third-largest global event in terms of economic and cultural impact, coming after the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup. It attracts millions of visitors during its six-month run, with the 2020 edition expected to lure 25 million between October 2020 and April 2021. The first World Expo was held in the 1850s, and the following World Fairs were instrumental in the promotion of technological and human progress, and international dialogue. Today, Expos have become a showcase for cultural diversity based on equality and respect for all cultures, and the focus on sustainable development has grown, well, exponentially.

The concept for Expo 2020 is “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, an ode to renewed progress, collaboration and shared development. The Expo is expected to help grow both the UAE’s and Dubai’s economy significantly, although the exact amount is still difficult to predict.

According to Jones Day 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 have boosted 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.

Government spending on the infrastructure has amped up considerably for the 6-month event. A total spend of US$8.7 billion is believed to have been allocated for Dubai Expo 2020 related investment. Returns are expected to be high as well, and optimistic UAE authorities have predicted a windfall of up to US$17.7 billion in the event that Dubai Expo 2020 is a success.

The private sector is also likely to benefit from the commercial opportunities the trade show will bring with it. 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.

The hospitality and tourism industry especially will benefit from the Expo, with the high volume of visitors that are expected.

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