Dubai EXPO 2020… What it really means….

The buzz of excitement around Dubai from the aftermath of securing a winning bid for Expo 2020 is fading.

A burning question floating around in the air; What does this really mean for us? This question is not bothering the high-flying real estate developers, or the hotel investors, it is coming from you and me. Average Joe, who is working hard, paying rents and trying to save.

To be completely honest, until I moved to Dubai 4 years ago, I had little knowledge of EXPO. It’s a really BIG fair, was my naive view.  Originally held in my home country the United Kingdom in 1851, The Great Expedition inaugurated World Expos as the hallmark events of a world aspiring to strengthen its connections, celebrate its cultural diversity and marvel at its technological wonders.- In reality, it’s a chance to show off.  World Expo’s can take credit for many inventions and unveilings, including the The Eiffel Tower, public telephones, the commercial type writer…. and wait for it… Heinz Tomato ketchup. Without Expo your chips would be lonely.Heinz


In December, Dubai won the Bid to hold the first Expo in the Middle East, fighting off Brazil, Thailand, Russia and Turkey with the theme:

Connecting Minds, Creating The Future

Of course a great theme, however I wonder how you can create a future with a lack of residents. Here is why the many Expats of Dubai may choose to move on…


Since the crash of 2008, Dubai’s economy has got back on track. With ever-increasing real estate markets, already in recent years we propertyhave witnessed the rental prices maturing. Now many report that 277,000 more jobs will be made available, however the majority of these will be Hotel and Restaurant industry. From personal experience, these jobs do not pay that well. Rents go up, Salary does not.  Since the announcement that Dubai had won, many landlords have started to rake up the pricing. Even with the laws set in place regarding the percentage a landlord can increase his taking by, many Expats signed  non extendable contracts, never questioning that this would be a silly idea. Most Expats rent, not everyone has a timeframe set for how long they will live in UAE. Most are trying to earn some tax-free money for retirement, or are just exploring a new adventure.

Luckily, I moved house before all of this and made an agreement with the landlord in writing about increases.Sonthing I am very grateful for.

Some blame the lack of available accommodation in Dubai for the price increase and not just Expo. This I also agree with. When searching for a property you will find it very hard to find a 2- 3 bedroom Villa or apartment at a reasonable price. They are extremely high in demand and often snatched up very quickly. However if you are looking for a 5-8 bedroom ‘mansion’, you will be overwhelmed with the choice on offer. Their pricing does not correspond with their size. You will get a fantastic deal on these larger properties, should you have the cash. How can you pay 150, 000dhs a year for a 2 bedroom villa, and in some cases only 200, 000dhs for a 6 bed. Something doesn’t quite add up….


DirhamThe Dirham will be less valuable in the coming 6 years that it is currently. How we love inflation. WE could argue that this is the case all over the world… life is getting more expensive…

Expo, however is a different story. With a stampede of 25millions visitors over the six month period, businesses in Dubai will most definitely take advantage. This is simple economics practised all over the world ; Charge tourists more since they don’t know any better. Have you ever bought Sunscreen in a Hotel shop, I guarantee you will pay at least 40-80% more than outside the complex. Cheeky eh?

The issue with this price rise is that Dubai will see traffic of roughly 15 times the population pass through during the fair. The residents, all 2million of us will be the minority, forgotten and fading away to be replaced by temporary population with free flowing cash.


The RTA (Road and Transport Authority) in Dubai has done some great work recently developing new roads. However we are all experiencing extremely bad traffic on a daily basis. Now, not everyone will be experience this. There are a few people who think traffic is above them, and will zoom down the hard shoulder and cut in right at the front. Causing all the law-abiding drivers to have an increased wait. I have become rather mischievous regarding this after being annoyed regularly. I place my car, whilst sitting in the queue, half in the hard shoulder and half in my lane. And as we are crawling along I ignore the flashes and beeps behind me from the traffic in dubaiimpatient, idiotic drivers. I get great satisfaction from this.

Traffic is only going to increase. More visitors, more vehicles on the road. Taxi numbers will  be doubled to accommodate these tourists. I realise how spoilt I was when I was living in London. Underground, how I miss you. . Yes, this used to bug me on numerous occasions, however it was certainly a better option that driving. Dubai granted, has the Metro. However the stations are prominently  in one long line parallel to the sea, restricting the amount of people who could use it on a daily basis. For me, my closest option would still take me 20 minutes to drive to, 20 mins trying to find parking, 20dhs on payment of the parking and then probably a 10 minutes walk to the metro as I have had to park my car far away. This really doesn’t help my morning commute, and would not be beneficial in any way. Better public transport will need to be considered for Expo, plans I hope are already being drawn up.


One thing that has been agreed apon, is that there will definitely be long term benefits.  Expo 2020 will have a positive impact on the likes of businesses and real estate , however in the short term the situation will need to be managed carefully.

When you look around Dubai, you are in awe at how much the city has developed in last decade. Residents who have been here for many years share fantastic stories on what used to be ‘there’ before ‘that’ skyscraper was built.  The problem is, Dubai has focused mainly on building up areas in line with coast, adding in few blocks further out but with no real flow from one area to another.  Therefore you never feel as though the place is finished. It is ongoing, and I am very pleased to see land and construction sites that had been left and abandoned for some years, starting to grow. This is a great news.

Considering Dubai just celebrated its 42nd Birthday, you have to congratulate the city for its progress. It is a great honour to have won Expo 2020 for a place that is still a ‘baby’ in comparison to the competitors.20131007_UAE-National-Day-2013

I am proud and thankful to live here, and I hope that a plan is put in place to stop the issues that are worrying us.




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