UAE businesses set for Expo 2020 upturn

Private businesses and investors are pinning high hopes on the role Expo 2020 will play in the development and growth of the private sector over the next 1,000 days.

Be it real estate, hospitality, tourism, retail or any other sector, businessmen believe the six-month Expo will be key the driving force. Not just prior to its beginning on October 20, 2020, the event will also be a major growth driver during and after the event as it will be transformed into a major tourist attraction.

It is expected that construction related to Expo 2020 will reach its peak towards the end of 2018 and early 2019. There are already about 12,000 people working across all projects on the site; this figure is expected to grow to 35,000 by early 2019.

“The impact on the property sector has been incredible with significant benefits for stakeholders. Demand for off-plan investments has been unprecedented as recently released Land Department statistics will attest, with investors looking to invest and see their capital investment grow as we lead into Expo 2020 and more importantly post-Expo,” says Jason Hayes, founder and CEO, LuxuryProperty.com.

“Launches of new projects,” according to Hayes, “are coming thick and fast and of course everyone is working hard to ensure delivery before October 2020. Mega infrastructure projects are being built that will add to what is already an incredible city. In terms of legacy, this spend will be fantastic for residents, communities and property values.”

Sameer Lakhani, managing director, Global Capital Partners, says construction and transactional data indicates that Dubai South has become the hub of activity for developers; this trend is only expected to accelerate, especially given the aggressive timelines that are being set by the master developer.

“We opine that the rate of construction will continue to accelerate. What the data is showing is that developers in this area are less reliant on off-plan sales than in other areas and this is the reason why we believe that development will continue at an aggressive pace,” Lakhani said.

On Monday, Expo 2020 Dubai awarded two major construction contracts worth a combined Dh670 million to international building company Laing O’Rourke.

The UK-headquartered contractor will build Leadership and Media Pavilions and the event’s ‘Hammerhead’ access road to Al Wasl Plaza plus landscaping.

The company will also be responsible for carrying out associated mechanical, electrical and plumbing works.

Ahmed Al Khatib, senior vice-president of real estate and delivery at Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “Today marks 1,000 days before Expo 2020 Dubai opens its doors to the public. However, with all heavy construction activities due to be completed more than a year before the Expo’s inauguration, it is essential that work continues to progress smoothly.”

Expo 2020’s Leadership and Media Pavilions will be transformed into hotels post the event, as part of the District 2020 legacy development project. They are both expected to achieve four-star ratings. The Leadership Pavilion will accommodate the UAE leadership during the Expo.

The Hammerhead, so called because of its distinctive shape, will house a ramped access road for Expo 2020’s truck tunnel – a subterranean road that will run underneath Al Wasl Plaza. It was designed by Pasadena-based Parsons Corporation.

Laing O’Rourke is due to commence work on January 28, 2018. All shell-and-core construction on site is scheduled to be completed by October 2019.

Expo 2020 Dubai will run for six months from October 20, 2020 to April 10, 2021, and is expected to receive 25 million visits, with 70 per cent due to come from outside the UAE – the largest proportion in the history of World Expos. More than 180 countries are expected to participate.

Sailesh Jatania, CEO of Gemini Property Developers, said real estate, hospitality, tourism, aviation, transportation, logistics, retail and F&B sectors are some of the sectors to benefit most from Expo 2020. “However, as we move closer to the event, the construction sector is the net beneficiary of the Expo 2020 as the city of Dubai is currently constructing all the necessary infrastructure works for the mega event. Directly and indirectly – all sectors will benefit from the additional 25 million visitors visiting the emirate in 180 days of fun and entertainment during the Expo 2020,” he said.