Dubai says Expo 2020 would boost turmoil-hit region

Dubai says Expo 2020 would boost turmoil-hit region
A booth is seen on a beach in Dubai carrying the Expo 2020 logo, October 20, 2013. An international meeting in Paris next month may trigger billions of dollars of fresh investment in Dubai - and, if plans are not handled carefully, contribute to the kind of boom-and-bust cycle which nearly bankrupted the emirate four years ago. Dubai is competing with Izmir in Turkey, Sao Paulo in Brazil and Yekaterinburg in Russia for the right to host the 2020 World Expo. A vote of the 167 member states of the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions is expected to choose between them at an assembly on Nov. 26-27. Holding the world's fair would be a defining moment for Dubai, marking the transformation of the emirate of 2.2 million people into a top global centre for tourism, trade and finance.

DUBAI - Dubai could present a "positive" image of tolerance in a region rocked by turmoil if it wins a bid to host the 2020 Universal Exposition, UAE Minister of State Reem al-Hashimy told AFP.

The glitzy Emirati city is competing with Brazil's Sao Paulo, the Turkish city of Izmir and Ekaterinburg in Russia to host the six-month event.

Dubai hopes to attract some 25 million visitors and create nearly a quarter of a million jobs if it wins the bid.

On November 27, the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions will announce the host for the World Expo, held every five years since it began in London in 1851.

The expositions showcase technology, architecture and culture, while drawing visitors to host cities and generating business.

If Dubai - home to the world's tallest tower, largest man-made island and one of the world's busiest airports - is selected, it will be a first for an Arab country.

"No Arab country has won, no country in the African continent, Indian subcontinent or Central Asia," has hosted the event, said Hashimy, who is also managing director of the Dubai World Expo 2020 Bid Committee.

While the Arab world has been shaken by "tremendous challenges, strife and instability," Dubai wants to show "this part of the world does also deliver on positive and meaningful outcomes," she said.

Hashimy said the event would be an opportunity to "promote principles such as openness and tolerance".

The United Arab Emirates, like most of its oil-rich Gulf neighbours, has been largely spared the unrest that hit the region since the Arab Spring erupted in 2011.

The city, with its large expat population of "more than 200 nationalities," hopes to attract "around 25 million visitors, 70 per cent (of them) international" if it wins the bid, she said.

This is in contrast to the Shanghai Expo 2010, where 90 per cent of visitors were from China, said Hashimy.

A sleepy Gulf port until the middle of the last century, Dubai has grown into a hub for international tourism and commerce.

In October, the emirate opened its second airport, Al-Maktoum International, touted to be the world's largest once it is completed, with an annual capacity to handle 160 million passengers and 12 million tonnes of cargo.

The city's luxurious shopping malls, hotels and man-made islands now attract nearly 10 million visitors every year.

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