All eyes on Dubai with 52 days to go
"I'm Ali by the way, I'm ten and I live in the greatest city in the world – Dubai”; Anyone who has taken a flight into Dubai the past few months would have seen this four-minute long film in the in-flight entertainment. The film is a promo for Dubai. A bid to attract those 25 million visitors to the city for the 2020 World Expo; 25 million people – that is the estimated number.
The promo film opens with a little boy, Ali, in a traditional white kandura, sitting on a boat with his father. Ali tells the story of how his father can hold his breath under water for over two minutes and dive – for fun. Ali's grandfather though could hold his breath longer and dive – for work. And thus unfurls a story of the pearl divers of Dubai. Pearl-diving was a trademark for the Dubai of yesterday. The focus of Ali's film is the progress made in the last 40 years by this Oasis city, the Dubai of today, somewhat removed from pearl-diving.
The immense support of social media is apparent. Locals are tweeting and re-tweeting articles and links about facts that make Dubai an ideal candidate for a host city. The Spanish football team, too, recently put in their vote for Dubai. A World Expo in Dubai in 2020 would be the first to be held in the Menasa (Middle East, North Africa and South Asia) region.
Infrastructure wise, the already swank hotels are priming themselves. One of the busiest global transits the Dubai airport is getting a makeover.
Once the new Al Maktoum International Airport at the Dubai World Central in Jebel Ali is ready, it is slated to surpass records. With an eventual capacity of 160 million passengers per year, the airport will trump London Heathrow to become the largest in the world.
So when an article in the New York Times tipped its hat towards Dubai, there was much excitement online, with everyone sharing that piece. According to the NYT article: "Dubai, which would be the first host of a world's fair in the Middle East, has emerged as the frontrunner, offering the most financial and governmental support.” The advantage Dubai has is evident in terms of its sheer geographic positioning, of it being from certain standpoints and quite literally, the centre of the world.
The political unrest in Russia and Turkey it is said will hurt the chances of Yekaterinburg and Izmir. The buzz is that the city least likely to win the bid is São Paulo. It's a matter of great interest that all the bidders for the 2020 World Expo come from emerging markets. Results will be out in November when the approximately 100 delegates of the exposition bureau's General Assembly vote in November.
Counting down from today, only 52 days are left until the vote.
The Dubai expo bid online has 37,382 followers. And the power of social media is all too apparent with the page having swung 632,262 Likes
Facebook shares, Twitter re-tweets and constant advertorial reminders of the city's greatness apart, there is also a video testimony of Bill Gates's support for Dubai.
"When I was a child,” says Gates, "I got to go to the world expo in 1962 in my hometown Seattle… there was lot of great technology there, was very inspirational… Expos let people see new innovation, gets people excited, participate in life, bring people together, get us dreamy and so expos are a great institution.”
He then states how the UAE is so far ahead in the global race: "UAE has taken its success and is willing to invest in new learning, new innovation – great to see that kind of long term approach is part of how its taking its success and becoming a hub for people from different regions”.
Acknowledging the power of social media Gates said: "The digital world is magical but I don't think it's going to replace meetings and expos – not anytime during my life time.” – Khaleej Times