Dubai Wins 2020 World Expo

Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) have announced that its proposed commercial tower – due to be the world’s tallest – will be named ‘Burj 2020’ in celebration of …

Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) have announced that its proposed commercial tower – due to be the world’s tallest – will be named ‘Burj 2020’ in celebration of last week’s announcement that the city will host the 2020 World Expo.

The planning stage for the tower is currently coming to a close, with architects due to be announced next year, ahead of ground breaking in 2015. The tower, to be built to the west of the city in the fast growing Jumeirah Lakes Towers Free Zone, will be designed to attract and accommodate large multi-nationals and corporations.

Held every five years, Expo allows nations to create pavilions showcasing cultural, scientific, artistic and economic development and achievements. Milan will host 2015’s Expo before Dubai will become the first Middle Eastern host five years later.

The fair site itself will be constructed a few miles to the south west, on 438 hectares of desert (which makes it more than three times the size of Disneyland Park) on the highway leading toward Abu Dhabi.

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The last Expo, held in Shanghai from 1 May to 31 October 2010 was hugely successful, with over 73 million visitors over those six months. A similar performance could mean an economic boost of a $40bn and the creation of 277,000 jobs.

The news will be a considerable boost to the country’s economy, which is still in recovery mode after the near catastrophic crash five years ago. This boost may already be evident in the property market as, since the third quarter of 2011, property prices have seen an increase of 50 percent (still 45 percent below 2008’s peak, however). The build up to the Expo’s announcement has been credited as a major contributor for this spike, as sellers and landlords anticipate a huge jump in demand.

Moves have been made in an attempt to head off a property bubble: authorities have doubled property registration fees to four percent and tightened central bank lending rules and, in an attempt to stop ‘flipping’, local developer Emaar has barred agents from reselling off-plan property before handover.

There is some controversy, however, over the choice of Dubai to hold a major, international event. Many may baulk at the 2020 Expo’s theme of “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”, and the proposition by Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum that the Expo will place an emphasis on the spirit of international friendship and collaboration, considering the country’s human rights record.

A comparison can be made with the international reaction to neighbour Qatar’s winning bid for the 2022 soccer world cup. Controversy has dogged the project since its announcement, with the treatment and safety of migrant workers and the country’s extremely conservative laws – particularly concerning homosexuality – highlighted as being counter to the spirit of the event.

Expo 2020 is due to run from October 10, 2020 to January 10, 2021.


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