'Successful Dubai Expo 2020 bid would bring the emirate "huge benefits" '
A successful Dubai Expo 2020 bid would bring the emirate “huge benefits”, a top economist has said, but the most important positive will be the upbeat atmosphere that comes with hosting the global event.
Professor Andrew Scott, deputy dean of the London Business School, said that organisers of a Dubai Expo would face few of the downside risks that come with a World Cup or Olympics.
But for those looking to solely measure the success of the event on a balance sheet, he warned that you can’t put a price on happiness.
“The indirect stuff, I think, is much more important,” he told 7DAYS on the sidelines of an event celebrating the achievements of students at the Dubai campus of the school.
“The population is just really happy to host these things.”
The professor had a ringside seat for last year’s London Olympics, and said:
“London had a great party. It is really not clear if GDP was boosted or not, because the sales were quite disappointing in terms of boosting the economy, but it was about national pride and the enjoyment of hosting a world party.”
Hosting major events can leave a debatable legacy, he said, but this is a bigger risk for sporting extravanganzas.
“I think you can draw a distinction between an Expo and sporting events. They are similar, but sporting events have much more problems than an Expo,” he said.
“With sporting events what you tend to get is a temporary big boost in tourism. Although often what happens is that anyone who was going to come over a five-year period just comes for the World Cup or Olympics. So you get a big boost and then you get a big fall. And then you are saddled with this huge infrastructure – swimming pools, cycling venues - that just aren’t going to be used,” added Scott, who has advised the Bank of England and the UK Government on economic matters.
He doesn’t see any such problems for a Dubai Expo bid.
“I think if you can manage the construction costs and use the resources you have already got - which I think Dubai could well do… then I think [the Expo] will actually be a good thing.”
But the event’s success won’t be measured on purely economic grounds, the LBS professor said.
“The other thing, which I think is really important in terms of the Expo, is the symbolism. Both in terms of your domestic community and the rest of the world. It is symbolism that you really are now a part of the global network.”