Twenty-five million visits are expected during the 173 days of Expo – equal to the population of Australia – and during this time there will be no better place on the planet to host a business event and network with government entities, corporations, educational institutions, thought leaders and industry associations. Co-located with Expo 2020, the Dubai Exhibition Centre (DEC) will open for business on October 20, 2020 – the same date that Expo welcomes 192 nations and millions of global visitors to the largest event ever staged in the Arab world. TTJ spoke with Shaun Vorster, Vice President, Programming at Expo 2020 Dubai to know about the latest developments.
The UAE is a destination for major conferences that is fueling growth in Dubai’s economy. How does Expo 2020 plan to draw tourists from the MICE segment throughout the 173 days?
Expo 2020 Dubai is adopting a long-term MICE strategy that aligns with the UAE Vision 2021, a key pillar of which is the continued diversification of the Dubai economy. Our key focus sectors also support the seven pillars of the UAE’s National Innovation Strategy: renewable energy, transport, education, health, technology, water and space.
The DEC will feature latest technology, onsite catering facilities and best-in-class audio, visual and telecommunication facilities across 45,000sqm of flexible space.
The DEC will not only provide access to the globe’s largest meeting of minds during Expo 2020, it is also set to form a key part of the Expo’s legacy. The world-class exhibition centre will continue to serve Dubai and the UAE as one of the largest of its kind in the region.
Dubai’s buoyant tourism and hospitality sector is gearing up to host more than 25 million visits at Expo 2020. What will be your key focus to get the maximum out of the Indian market?
70 per cent of visitors to Expo 2020 are projected to come from outside the UAE – the largest proportion of international visitors in the history of World Expos – and we anticipate that more people will come to Expo 2020 from India than from any other nation.
India is a proximity market, and the majority of the country is located within a four-hour flight of Dubai. Furthermore, the UAE’s very populous Indian expat community makes this a popular choice of holiday for people living in India, as they can visit family and friends who reside here.
Located in the Opportunity District, the India Pavilion will undoubtedly prove a major draw for visitors to Expo 2020. It aims to showcase the nation’s innovations in areas such as artificial intelligence, renewable energy and the space sector, as well as presenting the rich traditions that have been nurtured and established through India’s 5,000 years of civilisation.
Expo 2020 will dedicate special days to celebrating Indian National Day and Diwali – making India one of only two nations (along with China) whose major celebrations will have a special place in the Expo programming.
The legendary Indian filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, who directed Mr India and Elizabeth, is serving as an advisor to Expo 2020 with a focus on content. Kapur visited Expo in July 2019, where he spoke of his excitement at celebrating the ‘festival of lights’ with people from every corner of the globe at the World’s Greatest Show in November 2020. “We’re looking to create something fantastic on Diwali night,” he added.
Could you name the main source markets for Expo 2020?
In order, our 10 main source markets are as follows: India, Saudi Arabia, UK, China, Oman, Russian Federation, Iran, USA, Germany and Pakistan.
What kind of growth and opportunities do you see coming from India?
UAE-India bilateral trade has soared to approximately USD 57 billion in annual receipts, from USD180 million in the 1970s. India is now the UAE’s largest trading partner, and the UAE is India’s third largest. Bilateral trade between the two countries is expected to cross USD 100 billion by 2020.
The UAE has the second largest population of non-resident Indians – 3.3 million – in the world after the United States. India is also the UAE’s largest source market for tourists. More than 1,000 flights operate between the two countries per week – a travel segment that is due to become the world’s busiest by 2036.
Businesses founded and run by Indians are among the most active in the UAE. Indians also number among some of the UAE’s most prominent and successful business founders.
Indian businesses are also among the largest international contingents on Expo 2020’s Online Marketplace (OMP) – the robust and free online platform on which all of the event’s tenders are placed. More than 550 businesses registered on the OMP are located in India.
We’re looking to create dedicated digital journeys for architecture enthusiasts to explore the site, enabling them to take free, self-guided tours using their mobile phone, and incorporating location-aware audio and augmented reality elements.
Finally, Expo 2020 is providing support and funding to innovators in India through Expo Live. The USD100 million global social innovation and partnership programme helps develop novel solutions to social and environmental challenges.
Any interesting developments to mention about Expo 2020 from your perspective?
Submissions are now open for the fifth round of Expo Live’s Innovation Impact Grant Programme, calling for ingenious innovators who have devised socially impactful projects that help push the world towards a brighter future. To date, the programme has attracted more than 6,900 applications from 174 countries, including India. The deadline is 15 September 2019.
Expo is also preparing for a memorable ‘One Year to Go’ celebration on 20 October 2019, welcoming people from every nation to share in the excitement and mark a major milestone on our journey to the World’s Greatest Show. Stay tuned to our social media accounts for the latest on ‘One Year to Go’ and all other Expo 2020 news.