Dubai aims to create a positive socio-economic impact on the UAE and the region through Expo 2020 and future-focused initiatives

Dubai aims to create a positive socio-economic impact on the UAE and the region through Expo 2020 and initiatives by the Dubai Future Foundation, officials from both entities said on Thursday at the INSEAD National Alumni Association UAE Leadership Forum.

In a panel discussion at the Forum, organised by the National Alumni Association of INSEAD in the UAE and the Government of Dubai Media Office, Expo’s Chief Pavilions and Exhibitions Officer Marjan Faraidooni said the socio-economic impact of Expo in terms of social change, sustainability and mobility will extend beyond the six months of the event.

The discussion focused on connecting to the future and embracing change in the local, regional and global business landscapes.

Dubai Future Foundation CEO Khalfan Belhoul said that the UAE has taken a quantum leap from an economy dependent on pearl trading to one focused on artificial intelligence, blockchain and space – all in 50 years.

The Foundation’s strategy, Belhoul said, was imagination, design and execution. As part of this, the Foundation launched the Dubai Future Accelerators, a programme designed to identify emergent technologies and businesses and to support them in developing solutions and prototypes for rapid deployment across Dubai.

“We have 13 government entities participating in our startup outreach programme, giving startups and entrepreneurs hope that the entities’ procurement capital will be used as risk return,” Belhoul said.

Expo 2020 also entered this field, with 20 percent of direct and indirect spending on the Expo 2020 event allocated to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Faraidooni added that from September 2019, SMEs have been allocated 55 percent of all direct and indirect contracts awarded by Expo 2020.
As part of Dubai and the UAE’s blueprints for the future, Faraidooni said that Expo 2020 is “part of a grander plan.”
“It is not by chance that we decided to host Expo 2020, it was always part of a grander plan. Expo is a city that will continue after the six-month event. There’s a lot for the world to see. We cannot do it without connectivity and the collaboration of government entities.”
She added: “Legacy has always been a key area of Expo ever since we started planning. The reputational element was very important. It was always about creating a legacy not only for the UAE, but for the region encompassing the Middle East, South Asia and Africa, and allowing all these regional countries to be part of showcasing who they are and their future roadmaps.”

An integral part of Expo’s physical legacy is the Al Wasl Plaza Dome, Faraidooni said. During Expo 2020, Al Wasl Dome will be the largest 360-degree projection surface in the world. Much like Paris’ Eiffel Tower, which was built for the French capital’s edition of the Expo in 1889, the Dome will have an enduring status among Dubai’s grand architectural achievements after Expo ends.

Separately, Belhoul warned of managing future challenges and the importance of mitigating the risk of Artificial Intelligence and blockchain as Dubai continues its strides towards application of future technologies across various fields.

Organised by the INSEAD National Alumni Association (NAA) in the UAE and the Government of Dubai Media Office (GDMO), the region’s first INSEAD NAA UAE Leadership Forum provided a platform for sharing diverse ideas on promoting sustainable economic growth and creating a brighter future for the region. Speakers engaged in a dialogue on vital topics ranging from the economy, society and culture to technology, entrepreneurship and innovation.

The Forum took a deeper look at the economic and social shifts taking place regionally and globally and explored how countries in the Middle East can ride these waves of change to bring more prosperity to the region.

One of the world’s leading and largest graduate business schools, with campuses in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, INSEAD has consistently been ranked among the world’s top three business schools. The INSEAD National Alumni Association in the UAE has the largest and most diverse alumni network in the Middle East.

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