In a world of so many troubling news events, it’s always a good thing to see positivity and opportunity emerge. One area where opportunity is growing at pace, not least in the construction industry, is Dubai, in the aftermath of the Expo 2020. The event ended on 31st March following a six month extravaganza showcasing experiences and innovation from around the world, and construction and property are set to be amongst the leading areas of opportunity as a result.

With 192 countries having featured at Expo, it was heralded as a place of limitless business opportunities, not least as it came in the wake of so much limited travel during the pandemic. But what next?

Dubai Expo

The future of District 2020

On a general note, it is hoped that those connections that were made at the Expo will lead to an influx of investors in Dubai, as well as business partnerships that will prove mutually beneficial to organisations and nations around the world.

The Expo site itself (District 2020) will ultimately turn into a residential and commercial community called the ’15-minute city’, having been built with long-term legacy in mind. The plan makes the site the embodiment of an urban concept introduced by Paris Mayor, Anne Hidalgo in 2020, in which most daily necessities can be accomplished by either walking or cycling from residents’ homes. The idea is described as a return to a local way of life, for a polycentric city, gaining traction as a vision of the future way of living with similar concepts playing out from Paris to Canary Wharf.

Dubai Expo

Property and real estate moving forward

The Expo site will shut from April 2022 for redevelopment, and from October the plan is for 85 start-up companies to start moving in. With infrastructure focused around health and wellbeing, those who live in District 2020 will be able to walk or cycle from end to end instead of using a car.

This legacy plan for the site is very much in keeping with the theme of the Expo:

Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”

It also leads the way for other opportunities generated by the event, notably that it’s believed it will transform the UAE’s real estate landscape.

For example, Stones, a leading independent real estate consultancy, forecast a 7 to 9% increase in rent for the residential and commercial spaces and a 9 to 14% increase in price for luxury properties in the UAE for the first quarter of 2022.

Investment in the UAE and the economic impact

Meanwhile, EY’s Economic impact of Expo 2020 Dubai report observed that Expo 2020 will likely contribute AED122.6 billion of gross value added (GVA) to the UAE’s economy from 2013–31.

The report continued:

“The Expo was planned to support the UAE’s future vision by supporting sustainable economic development, moving toward an innovation-driven economy and creating a business environment to help support key growth industries such as logistics and transport, travel and tourism, construction and real estate and education.”

“‘The economic impact of Expo 2020 Dubai’ report by EY considered ‘direct’ increases in economic activity, ‘indirect’ benefits of increased supply chain demand and ‘induced’ benefits from increased spending by employees of firms involved in Expo 2020.”

It estimated that the Expo’s contribution to GDP will be AED 62.2 billion (USD 16.9 billion), with the top three impacted sectors including:

  • Events organisation & business services: AED 54.2 billion
  • Retail: AED 2.5 billion
  • Restaurants & hotels: AED 2.0 billion
  • JOB-YEARS: 548,300 (equivalent to an average 53,800 FTE jobs per annum)

The long-term impact of the Expo is obviously hard to determine, but an influx of investors is expected to have a continued positive impact on the economy of the host country for 10 years or more after it finishes.

Dubai Expo

For our part, and having worked in UAE for many years from our regional office in Dubai, it’s an exciting moment in time for this innovative part of the world. Construction in particular has a role to play in ‘creating the future’, which is especially exciting given the challenges that the industry has faced and continues to face following the pandemic.

Tungsten Capital has been serving the international construction community for more than 30 years, and has been actively providing support for construction and engineering claims, commercial management, arbitration and litigation across the UAE for more than 20 years. In particular, we specialise in conflict resolution, protecting our clients’ interests by helping to preserve relationships, project timelines and budgets wherever possible. If you would like to find out more about our services in the UAE, please contact our Dubai office.