Dubai’s Arabic name – Al Wasl – means ‘the connection’, and this is reflected in Dubai’s modern day position as a central hub between East and West. With an anticipated 25 million visits to our Expo, and 70 per cent of visitors predicted to come from overseas, it will be the most globally inclusive event in Expo history. Expo 2020 Dubai is building upon its theme and using it as a design principle for the event. The theme will be visible in how we engage with participants, create opportunities for the public and private sector to work together, and how we will strive to make collaboration an essential instrument to deliver an event with the level of quality and impact needed to mark this out as a truly transformative Expo. To make this possible, Expo 2020 Dubai will explore three sub themes, which have been identified as key drivers of global development. Sustainability – lasting sources of energy and water Mobility – smart systems of logistics and transportation Opportunity – new paths to economic development Sustainability In today’s ever-growing world, significant innovation in the production, delivery and consumption of water and energy is vital to our collective future. Improving access to these precious natural resources through responsible conservation and effective management –as well as embracing a culture of sustainability –are important goals for developed and developing nations alike.
Energy and water, our two most precious sources of life and prosperity, are highly interdependent. Large amounts of water are necessary to produce energy, and large amounts of energy are necessary to produce clean water. This inter- relationship has become ever more important as the world’s demand for energy and water surges and as our livelihoods depends increasingly upon them. Today, manufacturing and production processes are more dependent on energy than either capital or labour resources and across the world, there is a clear imbalance of peoples’ access to energy and water. According to UNDP and WHO, over 3 billion people are deprived of modern fuels for basic cooking and heating and one in six people do not having have access to improved water resources. Information technology and automation systems based on real-time data analysis and management promise to drive significant savings and greatly improve the efficiency of water and energy usage, significantly reducing the waste experienced today. The emergence of “Smart Grids” also presents a potential revolution through the convergence of information technology in both existing and new infrastructure (e.g. solar panels) to deliver electricity, in effect changing the way energy is both produced and consumed, whereby citizens and utility companies could become true partners in energy generation. The use of innovative intelligent systems and technology in cities and communities can transform energy and water usage, generate huge efficiencies but also simultaneously significantly reduce environmental impact.
Forging new partnerships to create lasting sources of energy and water can address many of these issues and this sub-theme highlights the crucial role that such partnerships will improve access to energy and water and planning for resource scarcity through conservation and effective management of new and existing resources. Expo 2020 Dubai will be a monument to the Green Economy, a landmark in sustainable development, and will contribute to the BIE legacy as one of the most sustainable Expos in history. Mobility Efficient logistics and transportation systems are the lifeline that connects people, goods and services around the world. They affect our cities, how we travel, how goods are shipped and how effectively humanitarian aid can be delivered.
As the world’s markets continue to grow and interact, new sources of innovation are required to create more integrated solutions. The history of logistics and transportation is as old as the history of human social development itself. It forms an invisible middle that changes, shifts and expands as new relationships, routes and platforms facilitate the movement of people and goods. An efficient logistics and transportation system is a vital economic gateway that connects people, goods and services around the world, while also providing a lifeline for humanitarian aid. It delivers prosperity, enabling the creation of new jobs, the education of people and the exchange of cultures. From the design of future cities to the development of national and regional infrastructure for travel and trade, new policies, research and innovation efforts are underway in this domain across the globe. They will map out new ways in which transportation will shape our societies, economies and environment and influence future requirements for energy. The impact will be far-reaching; by 2050 it is expected that air transport alone will account for 16 billion passengers (equal to the entire current population of the world – flying return!) and 400 million tonnes of freight (equivalent to transporting two Burj Khalifas or 108 Eiffel Towers every day).
The invention of the standardised shipping container transformed the economics of transport, reducing freight unloading costs by 90 per cent. Physical mobility has always provided new opportunities to develop and enrich people lives and this sub-theme ultimately aims to highlight partnerships that will enhance the physical flow of people and goods through smart, safe and robust systems for logistics and transportation in the future. The UAE is already a significant trade, commercial and service hub between East and West and at Expo 2020 Dubai we aim to showcase how our focus on efficient logistics and transportation systems will help us create the relationships that will define and support our future. Opportunity There is a growing need for new, universal models for sustainable economic development and financial stability. This need is more pronounced in the aftermath of the global financial crisis and as more emerging nations join the global economy. Expo 2020 Dubai seeks to harness new models for the flow of financial and intellectual capital to foster entrepreneurship and innovation. In the next decade, as we emerge from one of the gravest global financial and economic crises in generations, policy- makers, business leaders and others will seek new methods, means and frameworks to bring about sustainable economic development and financial stability. At the same time, new countries will be streamlined into the global economy, requiring the world to reassess how it grows responsibly in the face of huge environmental and demographic changes. The creation of new opportunities for economic development will increasingly require cross- sector partnerships to create environments where entrepreneurship can thrive and where all citizens are able to pursue opportunities that safeguard their livelihoods, guided by policies that are transparent, efficient and fair. The core aim of Expo 2020 Dubai is to bring a global audience together to foster innovation and partnership: to connect minds and create the future. The potential this will bring to the UAE and MENASA region is tremendous and latent with opportunity. Dubai, as a city, thrives on such collaborations and partnerships. It has been an integral part of its history and Expo 2020 Dubai will be a significant milestone in forming new partnerships that will build on the future.
For two and a half millennia, the Gulf coast has been a crossroads of the world. From the Persian Royal Road to the Han Dynasty’s Silk Road, from the trading posts of the 19th century to the hypermodernity of today’s UAE, people have always converged here. They come not only to do business, but also to share ideas, experience and inspiration. Dubai has played a central role in this development underlining its credentials to host an event like Expo at the figurative and literal crossroads of the world. It is strange to imagine that 20 years ago, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai’s main thoroughfare, was mostly sand. Now it is one of the world’s most modern urban landscapes, linked by multi-lane highways and a technologically advanced Metro system. Indeed, in four decades, the country’s soft and hard infrastructure has developed to such an extent that the UAE today might be one of the most hyper-connected places on the planet, where more than 200 different nationalities mingle daily. Business and governance structures allow the UAE to play and increasingly pivotal role in the global economy. It is a nation that continues to blossom, attracting foreign investment and creating jobs. The UAE’s position as a central hub for trade and tourism continues to bring people to Dubai, allowing to forge new partnerships and improve on the strong transport links that we have developed. The opening of new terminals at both Jebel Ali Port and Dubai World Central will further strengthen this network. The UAE also developed strong hospitality and retail sectors, capable of handing the scale of thoroughfare that an event like Expo will bring. The passion for bringing people together has been the driving force behind the UAE’s desire to bring the World Expo to Dubai, the UAE and indeed the entire Middle East, North Africa and South Asia region for the first time.
A Global Hub
The Middle East’s top trading economy – it recorded a trade surplus of US$128m in 2012 – the UAE is a dynamic hub for global commerce, with unmatched infrastructure that provides seamless connectivity for businesses worldwide. Dubai International Airport stands alongside Paris, London and Hong Kong as among the world’s busiest in terms of international passengers. Last year more than 66 million people passed through its terminals, and it is projected to have the highest footfall of any international airport by 2015. Dubai’s flag-carrier, Emirates Airline, is also on track to become the biggest in the world, while Dubai ranks sixth globally measured by air cargo traffic. The emirate’s shipping ports are also among the world’s top 10 busiest, with Jebel Ali ranked as the largest container port outside of Asia. If you added all the cargo unloaded in Los Angeles and Long Beach – two of America’s biggest ports – it would be roughly equivalent to that of Dubai. Global Trade The UAE enjoys a strategic location on the new Southern Silk Road between Asia, Europe and Africa, a situation that provides optimum trading conditions and means the UAE is poised to take advantage of economic activity among the world’s fastest growing and developing economies as part of the ‘South-South’ trade trajectory. Thousands of Chinese businesses use Dubai as a hub for Africa. Indian traders use the emirate to access the world. Latin American ‘multi-latinas’ see Dubai as a launch pad into South Asia. And, of course, Western multi-nationals use Dubai as a hub for the Middle East. Dubai is both a unique trans-continental trade hub and a nexus for innovation in the fields of technology, culture and the wider knowledge economy. Knowledge Economy The UAE continues to develop in areas ranging from environmental engineering to software development, and from film production to biotechnology. For example, the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology is a research university focused on alternative energy and sustainability. Situated inside the zero-carbon, zero-waste Masdar City project in Abu Dhabi, programmes are carried out in cooperation with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – just one example of international partnerships that support development of the UAE’s knowledge economy. Such initiatives are a legacy of the UAE founding fathers’ recognition of the importance of investing in education and facilitating entrepreneurship. Forty years ago there were few schools and no universities; now there are more than 1,200 schools and over 70 universities. The country has the highest percentage of female high-school graduates who enrol in university anywhere in the world. Art and Culture The UAE’s arts and culture scene is driven from the top – through government investment in new museums and cultural districts – and from the grassroots, led by trailblazers who have opened dozens of independent galleries in recent years. In Abu Dhabi, the 27-square-kilometre Saadiyat Island will be home to the Zayed National Museum, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Louvre Abu Dhabi, a performing arts centre and maritime museum. Dubai, meanwhile, is emerging as an important destination for artistic institutions, dealers and collectors, all looking for art with a fresh – and distinctly global – twist. Contemporary art show Art Dubai is now a key date on the international art world calendar, acting as a gateway to the MENASA region’s vibrant cultural scene. Works can also be seen in Dubai’s Al Quoz district. Home to a raft of studios and galleries, this former industrial quarter is being transformed into an exciting new hub for contemporary art. Against this backdrop the major international auction houses are now basing themselves in UAE, with the likes of Christie’s Dubai breaking auction world records in the emirate. The list of UAE cultural events and initiatives is long and growing, taking in the Sharjah Biennial, the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the Abu Dhabi Festival and the Dubai and Abu Dhabi Film Festivals.
UAE history dates back to 5,500 BC, with the first known habitation of the area. Archaeological evidence suggests those earliest inhabitants engaged in trade with their neighbours – a trait that remains vital to the country’s identity today. A centre for the pearling industry in the 19th and 20th centuries (Dubai was first settled as a fishing village around 1833) the modern UAE came into being in 1971. Then this small country marked its founding as a federation of emirates, united under the leadership of founding President His Highness the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Led by His Highness the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai from 1958-90, that city was transformed into a commercial metropolis.
Today, under the leadership of Dubai’s Ruler, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, this metropolis of two million inhabitants serves a market of more than two billion people – leading the development of a new Silk Road that connects rapidly growing economies such as India, China, Brazil and the African continent. Safe, inclusive and cosmopolitan, Dubai is now one of the world’s top 10 urban tourist destinations, attracting more than 11 million visitors last year alone. Today’s UAE is led by the President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, working in close consultation with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai.