There is a game changing shift in the mind-set of UAE residents (nationals and expatriates), businesses and investors as these stakeholders express huge interest in Dubai’s successful bid to host the Expo 2020, revealed an unique survey of over 1000 residents by strategic research company, Insight Discovery.
• Majority (95%) of the respondents are interested in the Expo, out of which 62% expressed strong interest, and 88% said it will impact their lives positively
• 40% strongly agree that they fully understand what Dubai Expo 2020 involves, another 49% somewhat agree. Of the 11% or so remaining, only 2% strongly disagree
• 52% of respondents strongly agree that Dubai Expo 2020 will have a positive impact on their lives, another 36% somewhat agree
• 58% of respondents strongly agree that they would like to know more about Dubai Expo 2020, another 33% somewhat agree
Nigel Sillitoe, CEO of Insight Discovery, commented: “We believe that this survey is the first research of its kind to examine what UAE residents think about the Expo, how they relate to the event and its numerous implications. The survey confirms that there is huge interest in the event, but identifies a number of aspects that are of concern to the country’s residents. The survey examines why Dubai Expo 2020 is unlike previous World Expos, and why it is a high stake event for Dubai and the UAE.”
Respondents in the survey were asked to identify the sectors which would most likely be the beneficiaries of Dubai Expo 2020. Sectors which received favourable mention included advertising/media/communications, financial services, real estate, retail, telecoms, and tourism/hospitality. It was widely believed that real estate and tourism will most likely be the major beneficiaries of Dubai Expo 2020. However, 40% of respondents also identified the financial services sector to be another leading beneficiary in the coming years.
Peter Baltussen, CEO of Commercial Bank of Dubai (CBD), noted: “At CBD we are very optimistic about the positive impetus for the UAE economy that Dubai Expo 2020 will bring – before, during and after the actual event. In anticipation of the development of the UAE economy and financial system, we have already identified several exciting new initiatives which include new hotels, tourism projects and retail expansion.”
Unsurprisingly, over 60% of respondents had a favourable outlook for tourism growth in the years (2018-20) closer to Dubai Expo 2020, in comparison to the earlier period (2016-18) where tourism were predicted to grow by 33% to 40%. Many (61%) of the survey respondents were found to have a strong opinion on the tourism potential of Dubai Expo 2020 as the event is estimated to attract nearly 25 million visitors. Another 30% agree that it will boost tourism since Dubai has an established infrastructure.
Jeff Singer, CEO of DIFC Authority, commented: “Dubai has successfully positioned itself as an international business hub and a gateway to markets across the MEASA region, and we believe that Expo 2020 will showcase this to the world. The Expo will undoubtedly have a positive impact as an economic catalyst that will create a long-term boost to local and regional economies in key business sectors such as finance, logistics and tourism.”
In the survey, 73% of the respondents believe that the UAE’s financial services sector will cope easily with the opportunities but challenges may arise. On the other hand, 57% of those surveyed think that the impact of the event on local banks will only be moderate, given that three quarters of the 25 million visitors to Dubai Expo 2020 will come from outside the UAE.
Jawed Barna, CEO of Zurich International Life Middle East & Africa, emphasised: “The success of EXPO 2020 further highlights the importance of Dubai as a regional and International hub and a centre of business excellence. As an insurance company that has been committed to the UAE market for over 25 years. Zurich is well positioned to meet the ever evolving protection needs of the UAE’s diverse population.”
In terms of employment opportunities in the UAE, 57% of the respondents think that the EXPO 2020 will lead to a positive impact with more job creation and new businesses. Meanwhile, 91% strongly believe that EXPO 2020 will lead to a rise in the general cost of living. Interestingly, 16% doubt whether the event will be delivering benefits after it is over.
Nigel Sillitoe, CEO of Insight Discovery, concluded: “The governments of Dubai and the UAE are to be congratulated for winning this major world event. They now face the challenge of managing the expectations and perceptions of residents and other stakeholders over the next six years. The years leading up to this event will be demanding on infrastructure and services, but nevertheless we are confident that Dubai will deliver like it has always done.”
This survey raised $5,000 for the Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan Fund, led by Islamic Relief. On this note, Nigel Sillitoe, CEO of Insight Discovery said: “This was possible due to the joint pledge between Insight Discovery and our partner Grant Thornton to donate US$5 on behalf of each of the first 1000 respondents of our survey. We are thankful to Grant Thornton and all the respondents for participating in this worthy cause.”
Insight Discovery conducted this Dubai Expo 2020 survey in partnership with Commercial Bank of Dubai, Dubai International Financial Centre Authority (DIFCA), Grant Thornton and Zurich Insurance Group. Additionally, Zawya, a Thomson Reuters Company, was the project partner for the survey, with SWAT being the fieldwork partner for the telephone interviews
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Manash Bhuyan / Tamara Khoury
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