Whilst sitting at London Heathrow Airport waiting for my flight to Milan to attend Expo Milano 2015, my thoughts wander to a prior experience back in May 2010.
I had travelled from my home in Dubai to Shanghai, where the first Expo to be held in a developing country was to be staged. Having never been to an Expo before, I had no idea what to expect.
The sheer scale of the Expo at 5.28 square kilometres was mind blowing. From the banks of the Bund to as far as the eye could see. Themed ‘Better City, Better Life’, Shanghai Expo 2010 saw 73 million visitors pass through its gates, with a record 1.03 million attendees in just one day.
The city itself saw rapid transport and logistics development with the establishment of six new subway lines within just two years, and four thousand new taxis to cater for the monumental increase in tourism. The overall revenue of this sector rose 13 per cent year-on-year during the Spring Festival to 2.1bn Yuan (USD 332.5m). Expo 2020 will no doubt see a similar return on investment.
This year at the invitation of both the UAE and UK Pavilions, I head to Milan on behalf of The Links Group to get a firsthand feeling as to the expectations of the host country, the attendees, and the pavilions of the countries participating, with a particular question concerning the post Expo FDI expectations.
Expo Milano 2015 ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’, is a platform for the exchange of ideas and shared solutions on the theme of food, stimulating each country’s creativity and promoting innovation for a sustainable future. Expo 2015 is fuelling hopes for the recovery of the Italian economy, with an encouraging 2.7 million people visiting the 1.1 square kilometre exhibition site in the first month alone.
My overall objective from this visit is to report back to colleagues, clients, Government partners and other stakeholders of The Links Group on the likely opportunities for Expo 2020 in the UAE, which aims to be the first sustainable Expo ever to be staged.
‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ is the Expo 2020 theme that will convene exceptional international business minds and forge transformative new partnerships, bringing sustainable innovation to our dynamic and global business hub. Stay tuned as I keep you posted on my observations and findings throughout the week.