DTCM head: Dubai not building for Expo 2020 alone

Helal Al Marri says projects will add to Dubai strategy beyond 2020

DTCM director general His Excellency Helal Almarri.
DTCM director general His Excellency Helal Almarri.

Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing director general H.E. Helal Almarri has said the city’s development plans are not specifically for Expo 2020 alone.

Speaking at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference on May 4, 2014, Almarri said: “We are not looking to build hotels specifically for the Expo, we are not building other projects for just the Expo specifically. This is an event in the Dubai calendar, and it is an event that is very large and has the whole world looking at us. But this is also something that is part of our strategy and something that is going to take place from October 2020 to April 2021 and this will take us into the golden jubilee of the UAE.”

However, Almarri did agree the event would offer a big boost for hospitality and tourism sector in the country.

“For the tourism industry specifically, the build-up towards the Expo and the six months of the Expo and also the development of the legacy after the Expo will obviously give a specific boost during that period of time as we see when we have other major events in the city,” he explained.

“There are also a lot of hospitality projects – both infrastructure related and experience related – which will be announced between now and the Expo, which will come online just before or after the Expo and will continue the growth of Dubai. But Dubai’s 2020 strategy is definitely one step, and as a government, we look to the long term – we look five, 10, 15 years to the future."

Dubai-based Jumeirah Group president and CEO Gerald Lawless agreed with Almarri’s prediction for growth, saying: One of biggest benefits of not just the Expo... but the development of travel and tourism in Dubai over the next seven years is the number of jobs that are going to be created. It is estimated that at least 277,000 or maybe 300,000 jobs will be created here in Dubai going into the Expo and the government is working hard to ensure that the human capital and expertise is there and in place and that training is taking place to prepare for it.

“And if you just think of the massive GDP growth that can be achieved on this number of extra jobs just in relation to that period, I think we have a lot to look forward to."

Almarri added that having an unflexible deadline also helped the industry focus on completing projects in time for the Expo.

“It makes things a little easier for people – having a certain event at a certain point in time because you can focus on that,” explained Almarri.

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