Dubai expects a €28bn boost to its economy if it is successful in its bid to stage the World Expo 2020, the emirate announced on Thursday.
Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of Dubai’s bid committee, said the emirate would create 277,000 jobs in the run-up to the event, which is expected to attract 25m visitors. Every Expo job is expected to generate another 50 jobs across the Middle East, north Africa and South Asia.
“It would leave a powerful legacy of new international partnership for a generation to come in the UAE and the wider region beyond,” said Sheikh Ahmed, who also runs the government’s fast-growing Emirates airline.
After its debt crisis in 2009, Dubai – which still owes about $110bn to its creditors – has witnessed a recovery as a haven from the Arab spring, encouraging the return of ambitious projects, such as a plan to build the world’s largest Ferris wheel.
The United Arab Emirates, while escaping the unrest that swept the Middle East, has clamped down on pro-democracy activists, arresting 94 Islamists for allegedly trying to overthrow the government.
The Expo bid, entitled “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future,” draws on the city’s role as a regional tourism, trade and transportation hub with excellent infrastructure.
The Bureau International des Expositions, the governing body, has this week carried out a four-day inquiry mission to assess Dubai’s ability to host the exhibition. The event is held every five years and consists of national pavilions and cultural events exploring global development themes.
The five candidate cities – which also include Izmir, Turkey; São Paulo, Brazil; Yekaterinburg, Russia; and Ayutthaya, Thailand – will find out in June if their bids have been deemed feasible.
The successful countries then go forward for a final vote among the 163 member states in November.
Candidates will be judged on “their infrastructure as well as whether the country is a legitimate place to launch such a dialogue,” said the BIE’s secretary-general, Vicente Loscertales.
The inquiry mission’s chair, Steen Christensen, said he had a “very positive” impression of the country, but that the sensitive issue of accessibility for all nationalities had been raised.
Israelis are not allowed to enter the UAE, which like most other Arab states has no diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. Many residents of strife-torn Syria find it hard to secure visas and others have been barred from the UAE for their political views.
Mr Christensen declined to elaborate, saying the BIE’s feasibility report released in June would clarify these issues. Dubai officials declined to comment on whether Israelis would be allowed to enter the UAE for the event.
The UAE has previously allowed Israeli delegations to attend international conferences, but opening its borders to Israelis for the six months of the Expo would be controversial.
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