As a host country for more than 200 different nationalities and a vibrant hub of international commerce, trade and tourism, the UAE today is one of the most connected nations on the planet.
Dubai, the bustling nerve centre of the Arab world’s second largest economy and one of the most sought-after shopping, conference and exhibition destinations in the world — well-connected to the rest of the world by land, sea and air — indisputably deserves to be the best qualified metropolis to host World Expo 2020 which is billed as a platform for connectivity to help pioneer new partnerships for growth and sustainability for the future.
Indeed, if the UAE wins the bid, it will not only facilitate an international celebration of new ideas and help open new frontiers of global partnership, but will also ensure enduring benefits for future generations.
World Expo, the internationally renowned event held every five years, features spectacular exhibitions, pavilions and cultural events by international organisations, businesses and nations from around the world. It also provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the issues impacting the global community such as sustainable development, resource management, global economy and the quality of life.
Where else can one find a better place to stage such an event other than the UAE, where these issues are addressed with finesse and poise?
For hosting rights, Dubai is competing against Ayutthaya, Thailand; Ekaterinburg, Russia; Izmir, Turkey; and Sao Paulo, Brazil. Come November 2013, it will be either Dubai Expo 2020 or the end of a nation’s big dreams to act as a critical catalyst for a bold, better and unified world.
While the values and objectives of the World Expo remain strongly aligned with the unique characteristics of Dubai — a city that encapsulates the entrepreneurial dynamism and cosmopolitan spirit of the modern era — its unrivalled track record as one of the most preferred MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) destinations not only in the Middle East and North Africa region, but even beyond, can never be more profoundly relevant in making the choice of World Expo 2020 venue.
Given the undeniably unique advantages of the UAE, thanks to its world class infrastructure, logistics and global connectivity, Dubai — now served by more than 150 airlines, and interconnected to the rest of the cities within the region by multi-lane highways and a state-of-the-art Metro system —remains easily accessible to one third of the world’s population in a four hour-flight, and two thirds within eight hours.
With the UAE’s increasingly pivotal role in the global economy, and its strong track record of hosting high profile global events, including the Dubai Air Show, International Defence Exhibition (IDEX), Gitex (Middle East’s largest consumer IT and electronics show) and more than 200 other trade shows as well as international sporting events, there can seldom be a better platform of choice for World Expo 2020.
It must be this country’s long-standing passion to bring global citizens together that drives the UAE’s keenness to bring the World Expo for the first time to the region.
Other factors strongly in favour of Dubai Expo 2020 candidacy is the unequivocal status of the UAE as the world’s third largest re-export market and its nine world class seaports, including the flagship port of Jebel Ali, ranked as the largest container terminal between Rotterdam and Singapore.
Just as Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State and Managing Director of the UAE’s Higher Committee for Hosting World Expo 2020 in Dubai, commented, the UAE’s bid is about an Expo for the world – an opportunity for nations, countries and the business community to get involved.
There is little doubt that this advantage and opportunities offered by Dubai in boosting global trade flows, will stand Dubai in good stead.
Look at some statistics. The UAE conducts international trade with more than 220 countries. It is host to around 65 foreign business councils, and receives hundreds of foreign trade missions every year.
Dubai International, the world’s fourth busiest airport in terms of international passenger traffic, currently serves more than 150 airlines flying to over 220 destinations across six continents.
At present, the collective capacity of the airport’s three terminals is 60 million passengers per annum. It will increase to 75 million passengers when the A380-dedicated Concourse 3 opens. Annual aircraft movements in Dubai are expected to increase to 560,000 by 2020 when over 98 million passengers and over four million tonnes of air freight will pass through the emirate’s airports, a special research study has shown.
Dubai International Airport recorded total passenger traffic in the first 11 months of 2012 at 52.3 million travellers, up 13.1 per cent against 2011, with passenger numbers forecast to reach 56.5 million in 2012, and 98 million by 2020.
Abu Dhabi has recorded similarly buoyant figures with 2012 another record year according to the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority. It welcomed 2.3 million hotel guests to the emirate’s hotels and hotel apartments, representing a 13 per cent rise on 2011 figures.
As various industry reports suggest, the UAE’s hospitality market is geared up to record 67 per cent growth in revenue to US$7.5 billion by 2016 - up from US$4.5 billion in 2011 as visitor demand grows alongside hotel vacancies. Hotel supply is expected to increase from the current 96,992 hotel rooms in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, to a total of 125,383 hotel rooms by 2016.
Last year, the UAE drew an estimated 10 million tourists.
According to a report released by the World Travel and Tourism Council, the UAE accounts for 41 per cent of total investment in the travel and tourism sector in the Middle East.
With the UAE’s tourism map now incredibly diverse, Dubai Expo 2020 would offer an opportunity for millions of transit passengers to visit the Expo.
Together with Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah are building on their own cultural foundations to present a series of unique individual products that will help position the country as a cohesive hospitality hub, with varied appeal.
As Al Hashimy argues, given the great advantages of our country thanks to its strong infrastructure, the geographical positioning between east and west, the seamless operations between our ports and airports, and our global connectivity, “we feel we really can bring people together and do justice to our theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’.”
As the gateway to Africa, Asia and Europe, and a nexus for cross-border discussions, Dubai can offer a diverse, exciting and international profile for visitors and participants alike. The Dubai Expo 2020 will be a celebration of innovative partnerships for global progress, she says.
An important part of the Dubai bid to host Expo 2020 is recognising Expos should educate the public, and promote innovation in the service of human progress. The intention is that any Expos should not just be a benchmark for current human progress, but also propose a roadmap for the way forward.
Dubai Expo 2020 is being designed as a significant permanent addition to the facilities in Dubai, and an opportunity to build new partnerships across borders.
Should Dubai be successful in winning the bid for hosting the Expo, it would be the most high-profile and inclusive international World Expo in history with a predicted 70 per cent of the 25 million expected visitors coming from outside of the host nation.
The proposed venue for Dubai Expo 2020 is located in Dubai World Central’s exhibition district (Dubai Trade Centre-Jebel Ali) as the site would be able to fully leverage the advantages of not only the Al Maktoum International Airport but also DWC’s surrounding amenities and facilities that will be online in eight years’ time to welcome the world to this extraordinary emirate.
Ever since the Great Exhibition, held in London in 1851, World Expos remain a key meeting point for the global community to share innovations and make progress on issues of international importance such as the global economy, sustainable development and improved quality of life for the world’s population.
Every five years, World Expos attract millions of visitors who explore and discover pavilions, exhibitions and cultural events staged by hundreds of participants including nations, international organisations and businesses.
Each World Expo is a catalyst for economic, cultural and social transformation and generates important legacies for the host city and nation. Hopefully in 2020 that transportation will happen right here. – Khaleej Times
Government Communication Forum kicks off today
The second Government Communication Forum (GCF 2013), being held under the patronage of Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, will open on Sunday in Sharjah. The two-day event will address the theme “Effective Communication...Unified Message.”
The forum is being attended by leading academic, political and media figures, prominent thought leaders and communication experts from all over the world, in addition to a large number of government communication professionals from within the UAE and abroad.
The GCF 2013’s key themes will identify pathways to establish successful government communication in the Arab world.
Among those scheduled to participate in the event are Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, former secretary-general of the United Nations Kofi Annan, former secretary-general of the Arab League Amr Mousa and former US Ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan will open the forum with a keynote speech. This will be followed by an address by Kofi Annan, who will share his experiences with the United Nations, his vision regarding the latest developments at a regional and global level, and his opinion regarding the role of effective communication in overcoming obstacles to real-life challenges.
GCF 2013, which hosts around 40 speakers from the Arab region and the world, will be centred around the need to switch the current principles of government communication from “talking to people” to “talking with people” and the need for more flexibility in the light of the civil movements witnessed across the world at large, and the Arab world in particular.
Speakers include high-profile political, government, media and academic figures, in addition to experts in the field of government communication from all over the world.
Sheikh Sultan Bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, chairman of Sharjah Media Centre, said a great deal of care and attention has gone into ensuring this important event provides the right platform that esteemed guests require.
More than 300 media representatives are expected to attend the forum from various local, regional and international media organisations. This would ensure that print, broadcast and online readers and viewers are able to stay up-to-date with all the discussions and activities taking place in this first-of-its-kind event.
Ahmed Al Bairaq, head of the Media Committee, confirmed that all the preparations for setting up the forum’s media centre were completed. Equipped with the latest technology and telecommunication facilities, the media centre would act as a news hub, enabling all journalists, correspondents, reporters and other media representatives to carry out their daily tasks with ease and efficiency. – The Gulf Today
Swat - The UAE Project to Assist Pakistan (PAP) has announced that construction at the UAE-funded Sheikh Zayed Bridge on Swat River, Pakistan, has reached 98%.
The project is funded by the Khalifa bin Zayed Foundation Dh 4 million.
PAP said the bridge, the most vital and largest development project in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, is being executed in line with directives by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan to rebuild infrastructure damaged by devastating floods.
The 448 metre and 10,7 metre wide bridge will link 15 towns and 45 villages scattered on both banks of Swat River. It has the capacity of 4,000 vehicles a day.
PAP said the bridge is one of the most modern mega infrastructure and development projects in Pakistan which aim at stimulating economic growth, improving living standards of the population and catering for the demographic expansion in the province.
Along with the Sheikh Khalifa Bridge, which opened last year, the bridge will provide key strategic arteries and access to towns and villages on banks of the river. - Emirates News Agency, WAM
RCA, UNRWA sign agreement for building eights schools in Gaza
RCA to build four schools in Palestine Abu Dhabi, 23 Feb. 2013 (WAM) -- The UAE Red Crescent Authority (RCA) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) signed yesterday a cooperation agreement for building eight model schools in Gaza Strip at a total cost of Dh 58.76 million.
RCA Secretary General Dr. Mohammed Al Falahi and UNRWA Deputy Commissioner Peter Ford signed the agreement which will see the RCA implementing the project in two phases.
The schools will be built in areas that desperately need educational services. - Emirates News Agency, WAM
Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Butti Al Hamed, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said that the UAE is making intensive diplomatic efforts with the European Union to exempt citizens of the state of the Schengen visa. The UAE has been working on this issue with the European Union for over a year, now.
"The UAE wishes to express its appreciation over the fact that its request to be included among the countries whose citizens do not require a visa to travel to the Schengen Area is currently under serious consideration by the European Union.
The UAE realises that this request is at the beginning of a complex internal debate and subject to internal EU-procedures." Although a decision is pending, and will be pending for some time as the request is subject to scrutiny by various EU-institutions, the UAE is confident that a mutually beneficial outcome will be reached.
For the UAE, the main arguments that underpin its request are: - Visa-free access will further facilitate a trade relationship between the UAE and the Schengen Area that currently stands at over USD 40 billion (over USD 60 billion for the whole European Union); - Exempting the UAE would send a positive signal for greater cultural openness towards the Arab and Muslim worlds.
The UAE wishes to thank the vast number of EU- and Schengen states that have come out in support of its request and hopes that the request can still be officially heard, this year. It is hopeful that it can continue to count on this support, also at the later stages of the decision-making process. The UAE remains ready to work with all relevant EU-institutions and to fulfil all requirements necessary to obtain visa-free status, including full reciprocity of visa-freedom to all EU- and Schengen-states.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Butti Al Hamed, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the exemption of visa will facilitate the travel of citizens of the state to Schengen, "it will mutually benefit all parties and will strengthen relations of cooperation and friendship in various fields between the UAE and the Schengen countries." - Emirates News Agency, WAM
Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), master developer of major tourism, cultural and residential destinations in Abu Dhabi, hosted the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman Roger Gifford, for a special visit on Saadiyat.
The Lord Mayor was greeted by Chairman of TDIC and Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, alongside TDIC's senior management.
Sheikh Sultan expressed the significance of cultural exchange between the UAE and the world as Saadiyat contributes a major part in this aspect through its world-class museums, such as the Zayed National Museum being developed in collaborations with the expertise of the British Museum.
The Lord Mayor visited Saadiyat Construction Village and expressed his admiration over this high-quality, modern community project designed to international standards, which TDIC opened in 2009, to accommodate construction workers employed on Saadiyat's developments.
The Lord Mayor met with construction workers as he toured the various state-of-the-art social, recreational and educational facilities. With a capacity to accommodate up to 20,000 workers, Saadiyat Construction Village has become an exemplifying model in the region especially for its broad range of conveniences, such as multilingual libraries, computer and Internet access, gymnasiums, and floodlit sporting area with four cricket pitches, basketball court and tennis court.
During the visit the Lord Mayor of London, said, "I was extremely impressed by the facilities at Saadiyat Construction Village. It's now a model of best practice in supporting workers who are doing a fantastic job in helping Saadiyat Island to become a centre for tourism, culture and leisure facilities." The Lord Mayor also toured Manarat Al Saadiyat's exhibition, 'The Saadiyat Story', which depicts the development of island as it emerges as an unparalleled international destination of cultural, tourism and residential offerings.
During the tour he received an update on the Saadiyat Cultural District which will also be home to other cultural projects, including Guggenheim Abu Dhabi museum, a performance arts centre, and Louvre Abu Dhabi museum, where construction work is well underway following the recent appointment of a contractor in January 2013.
The visit by the Lord Mayor of London helped to further enhance the links between the City of London and the Emirate of Abu Dhabi - with a particular focus on how the City can support projects such as those being developed by TDIC. - Emirates News Agency, WAM