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A Catalyst For Growth: Expo 2020 Dubai To Boost Small Businesses Expo 2020 Dubai could lead to significant investment in the region, through people moving or expanding their business here.

By Michael Burke

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Expo 2020 Dubai.
An Expo 2020 Dubai pavilion.

Will Expo 2020 boost your Dubai business? We think so! Change is coming to Dubai next year, bringing the opportunity of a lifetime for anyone setting up or moving their business here. During Expo 2020 Dubai, over 200 nations and organizations will gather to showcase their culture and achievements. It's an event of global prestige which will bring some very powerful and much-needed positive attention to the UAE.

Why should you care? World Expos are unrivaled among international events for their colossal size and impact. With visitors, exposure, and boost to the economy; it's imperative for businesses to take advantage before the opportunity passes. As the Expo's timing coincides with UAE's business cycle (as it starts to come out of the current downturn), it will act as a catalyst for growth. So, unlike the post-Olympics effect which causes economies to hit a downturn, Dubai's Expo will instead increase growth.

Here's what you need to know.

25 million visitors are expected

With these many visitors likely to be during the six-months-long Expo, it's an amazing opportunity to sell and promote Dubai what all it has to offer. We live and work here, so we already know why it's the place to be. But around the world, it's a different story. In the eyes of some, Dubai lags behind compared with London, New York, Zurich, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, when it comes to doing and closing deals. We were on this road and making good progress, except for the growth hiatus of the last couple of years, but Expo will get us back on track again.

What this means for you and your business: In business, you make the best connections face to face, building relationships, and as the H.H. Sheikh Mohammed rightly points out, "You see with your eyes, not your ears." Expo 2020 Dubai could lead to significant investment in the region, through people moving or expanding their business here.

Related: Four Industry Sectors That UAE Entrepreneurs (And Investors) Should Be Interested In

Expo 2020 will create new frontiers

Dubai is synonymous for superior tourism, exceptional hospitality, and retail offerings. Expo 2020 Dubai will help the world see how much more we have to offer.

What this means for you and your business: Dubai is the first city to host a World Expo in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia, which speaks volumes about our increasing presence as an international player in the business. While we are already specialists in tourism, hospitality, and retail, the upcoming global exposure will boost other sectors as well. Not only at the Expo, but across the city, visitors will see us pushing boundaries in everything from construction, sustainability to finance and cutting-edge communications. And, they will get a feel for how we are uniquely positioned to host a truly global business.

Beyond Expo 2020: A glimpse of the future

One of the major concerns for cities hosting Expos is making use of the sites afterward. This was a significant part of the planning from the moment Dubai was chosen. In fact, over 80% of the site will be re-used, ensuring the event infrastructure adds lasting value to the region. The site, covering 4.38 square km, will become known as District 2020 after the event. It will feature office and residential space, cultural attractions, parks, and leisure amenities.

Alongside this, the government is funding new roads and rail links and expanding its airport capacity to accommodate the growing influx of visitors. All of which will leave Dubai with an even greater logistical framework to compete with other international business centers.

What this means for you and your business: Any improvements to the infrastructure of a city are a boost for business. Thanks to the foresight and planning of the government, we can be sure these improvements will boost Dubai's economy. The cutting-edge post-Expo use of the site and the improved city infrastructure will cement our position as a major draw– not only for businesses but also for the best talent from around the world.

Related: Dubai's District 2020 To Be A Hub 'For The Startup, The SME, And The Multinational

The Expo will create jobs

Any event of this scale brings a surge in employment and an increase in skilled workers. It has been suggested that Expo 2020 Dubai will result in more than 270,000 new jobs in the UAE. The construction industry always benefits from Expos, building a site to cater for millions of visitors. But many additional skilled roles are also needed to support such an event. For example, specialists in sustainability will be ensuring that 50% of the Expo 2020 site's energy requirements are generated through renewable sources. Meanwhile, communications experts will be rolling out 5G for the event, in another first for Dubai in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

With the event striving to be as innovative and sustainable as any we have seen, this Expo has already drawn (and will continue to attract) a rich wealth of skilled workers into the region.

What this means for you and your business: Even in regions where the infrastructure is good, without the specializations provided by skilled workers, businesses will never realize their full potential. In the aftermath of Expo 2020, organizations will have a huge number of opportunities to hire the best international talent, as the event will create a far greater pool of skilled workers.

Economy boosted to the tune of US$35 billion

The event is expected to generate revenue of up to $35 billion, and foreign investments of up to $150 billion are likely to come to Dubai and the wider UAE through sectors such as retail, hospitality, and real estate.

What this means for you and your business: A thriving economy is a springboard for new business opportunities. And while Dubai has traditionally been a solid investment for small startups to major corporations, the wider economy has been sluggish over the last 18 months, and the boost from Expo 2020 Dubai will ensure the whole world knows it is on the road to recovery and squarely back on the map. This is one of the reasons why we see 2019 and early 2020 as a good period to get set up and create a presence, as the Expo for us will be the foundation and platform for future growth.

So, if you were considering opening a new business in Dubai, or moving your existing operations here, we strongly believe that the next nine months are a good time to start such a process and journey. And we are here to help.

Related: H.H. Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum: Powering The Engines Of Prosperity To Dubai Expo 2020 And Beyond

Michael Burke

Managing Partner, EER Corporate Services

Michael Burke is the Managing Partner at EER Corporate Services. Burke has lived in Dubai for 11 years but has spent over 20 years travelling to, and within, the region. He has over 12 years of international experience building successful businesses in niche areas and heads a collection of companies, with over 60 employees, based in the UAE, GCC, Middle East, Europe and Africa. He graduated from University College Dublin in 2001 with a BSc (Hons) in Economics & Finance.

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