Exclusive Interview: Reem Al Hashimy, MD Of Dubai's Expo 2020 Bid
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Exclusive Interview: Reem Al Hashimy, MD Of Dubai’s Expo 2020 Bid

Exclusive Interview: Reem Al Hashimy, MD Of Dubai’s Expo 2020 Bid

HE Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State and managing director of the Dubai World Expo 2020 Bid Committee, reveals her hopes and fears in the bid for the largest trade show on earth.

Gulf Business

Rising star and UAE national H.E. Reem Al Hashimy is the powerhouse behind Dubai’s bid for Expo 2020 stardom.

She’s the brain behind a prolific and well-oiled marketing machine that has greased the wheels for the city’s bid against competitor nations Turkey, Brazil and Russia.

The Dubai Expo 2020 bid has captured the attention of a nation and its unique snowflake-shaped logo is today’s leitmotif for Dubai’s irrepressible ambition. Here she tells Gulf Business about her dream of victory and how winning the bid will change the face of a nation.

How long has Dubai been preparing for the bid?

Following a feasibility study, the UAE launched the country’s campaign to host the 2020 World Expo in Dubai in November 2011 and it is hard to believe we are now in the final few weeks. It has been an incredible journey.

The official intention to bid was submitted to the Bureau International des Exhibitions (BIE) under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai.

Since then we have worked to develop a thorough and detailed plan and I am confident that our bid portrays our capability to host such a mega-event.

Importantly, this would be the first Expo to be held in the wider MENASA region. Hosting the World Expo in the MENASA region for the first time, and on the eve of the UAE’s 50th anniversary celebrations, carries profound meaning for us and creates an environment of exceptional opportunity for all participants.

What is the idea behind the “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” theme?

The Dubai Expo 2020 theme, Connecting Minds, Creating the Future, emphasises that partnerships and collaboration hold the keys to our future. This in turn rests on three main drivers of global development – mobility, sustainability and opportunity – which are the subthemes of our bid.

Our theme goes beyond any one specific issue to focus on the way we come together to solve all challenges.

By leveraging the best each country has to offer we can effectively work towards a path for progress. As the most international and inclusive Expo ever, Dubai Expo 2020 will provide a unique platform for the global community to explore creative and pioneering solutions to global problems.

For the first time, Expo participants will include educational institutions and NGOs in addition to the traditional participant base of countries, multilateral organisations and companies.

Our theme’s focus on collaboration informs the content and structure of our Expo and also drives our global engagement programme, Expo Live, to find solutions today for the problems of tomorrow.

Over the next seven years, Expo Live will establish a new network for people, governments and companies to share ideas, to build partnerships and to secure financing for projects that will create real community impact.

There are three other candidate cities bidding to host World Expo 2020. What differentiates Dubai’s bid?

All candidates bidding to host the 2020 World Expo come from emerging markets, and this is significant. It is reflective of the shifts in global trade flows that we see today, and provides a clear indication about the future of the world and the increasing importance of emerging markets on the global stage.

As I mentioned earlier, World Expo has never before been held in the MENASA region. However, the fact we have never hosted a World Expo before is not enough on its own. We truly believe that Dubai and the UAE have something different to offer.

Let me highlight why. Firstly, with regards to the project itself, Dubai Expo 2020 offers an inspirational theme that strives to deliver real solutions to 21st century challenges.

Expo Live translates the aspirations of the theme into a concrete programme of global innovation to create impact in communities around the world and is supported by the 100 million Euro Expo Partnership Fund.

In addition, the Masterplan for the Dubai Expo 2020 site will not only create a sustainable and iconic venue, there is a defined legacy plan which includes the development of research and university facilities to continue the work initiated by Dubai Expo 2020.

The UAE’s state- of-the-art infrastructure, operational readiness and efficient, transparent and cost-effective environment will make it easy for participants to bring in materials to build their pavilions at the site – this is another strong differentiating factor.

Finally, as the most diverse and international Expo in the history of the event, both visitors and participants alike will benefit from the unprecedented global exposure and Dubai Expo 2020 will open the door to dynamic new markets across the region creating opportunities for economic development, trade and investment.

All of this is underlined by the tremendous support we have received from the leadership and business communities and citizens from across the country, the region and beyond.

How would winning tHe expo event cHange dubai’s pHysical landscape?

If Dubai is awarded the honour of hosting the World Expo 2020, you will see the development of the 438-hectare site for hosting the World Expo 2020.

Dubai Trade Centre-Jebel Ali, equidistant between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, is the site is a ‘greenfield’ location and in order to operate it basic infrastructure will need to be built and access routes will be proposed site for Dubai Expo 2020.

The enhanced – many of which are already part of existing plans for the city. We have been conscious that any changes to Dubai’s physical landscape ensure a balance between the six months of the Dubai Expo 2020 and the long- term requirements for the city.

As such, every element of the masterplan has been designed with a defined strategy for re-use. The legacy plan includes the development of research and university facilities to continue the work initiated by Dubai Expo 2020.

How much would it cost to host the world expo?

The total funding requirements for Dubai Expo 2020 are estimated at $8.8 billion across short and long-term financing needs. Of that amount, $7 billion is required to develop the city-wide infrastructure, the Expo Area and its surrounding site.

How many jobs would be created if Dubai wins the Expo 2020 bid?

Dubai Expo 2020 will spur significant employment, trade and investment opportunities for the entire MENASA region, leaving a lasting economic impact.

An independent report has shown that Dubai Expo 2020 would create more than 270,000 jobs between 2013 to 2021. Importantly, the report also demonstrates the positive impact for the wider region showing that for every Expo employee approximately 60 additional jobs will be sustained across other parts of the MENA economy.

Dubai Expo 2020 will leave a lasting legacy not only in the UAE but also beyond its borders.

If Dubai wins the bid, how will the plans be mobilised?

In December last year, all candidate cities were required to submit their plans in the form of an official Bid Dossier. Our Bid Dossier was submitted to the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) by His Excellency Mohamed Meer Abdalla Al Raeesi, the UAE’s Ambassador to France.

The Bid Dossier took 10 months of dedicated work from the team to produce and consists of 640-pages detailing our vision for the 2020 World Expo. It discusses the Dubai Expo 2020 theme as well as plans for the Dubai Expo 2020 Site, event visitors, communications, marketing and promotion, financial costs, environmental impact and ideas about the legacy to the host city and beyond.

The Bid Dossier forms the foundation of the plans that will be put in place in the seven years leading up to 2020 and beyond should we be successful in November.

Expo 2020 promises more global exposure for the emirate, but isn’t Dubai already a world-famous international brand?

This is an important question because, to reiterate my earlier comment, the UAE’s bid is not just about us; it is an expo for the world. The Dubai Expo 2020 would be the most international event in the history of World Expo.

Combined with the existing global awareness and international media attention of the UAE’s role on the global stage, Dubai Expo 2020 is able to offer unprecedented global exposure to both participants and visitors alike.

This means that the new innovations, the new ideas and the different country identities and achievements that will be showcased will have a global platform on which to do so, maximising the opportunity and benefits for them.

And as a destination of choice for millions of tourists, you can expect Dubai and the UAE to bring its experience of hosting exceptional world- class events and its track-record of delivering on exciting and internationally renowned projects to make Dubai Expo 2020 an unforgettable and must-see event that benefits all.


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