The stage is all set, the bids are in. If I were a betting man I’d probably place my house on Dubai winning the Expo 2020, the World Fair that is set to be held in 2020 and which is expected to attract millions of visitors over a six month period. Of the other four national/city bidders Thailand has pulled out of the process and of the other three (Brazil, Turkey and Russia), two have been experiencing mass protests of late relating to governance issues (that’s a very PC way of saying riots, teargas and and general chaos as played out on television).
The bidding for the Expo 2020 is winding up this summer with a vote and decision expected by November. But if/when Dubai does win, what next? Ok, we have the plans to build a World Fair that is expected to bring in over 30 million people but as Qatar now understands the big events also bring major scrutiny.
Let me explain further; Qatar’s winning of the 2022 FIFA World Cup was exceptional and unexpected by most. Almost immediately after Qatar won the bid the questions came flying in. How does Qatar treat its ‘enslaved’ foreign workers? Will the beer flow for the fans? And, the most bizarre one I’m sure for the Qataris, will homosexuals be allowed to go to Qatar without facing the risk of being arrested? As they’ve found out, the bigger the event the greater the level of questioning on issues, many of which may not be directly related to the event.
I wonder how much Dubai is ready for this level of scrutiny? The Emirate suffered during the global economic crisis, and it could be argued that Dubai’s cause wasn’t helped by its lack of transparency on financial issues. How will Dubai cope with the level and intensity of questioning that will come win the Expo 2020 win? While I don’t see the Expo as being as high profile an event as the FIFA 2022 World Cup, Dubai and the UAE aren’t so dissimilar to Qatar in terms of issues such as labour rights, security issues and freedom of expression.
Is Dubai ready for the questions that will come after, Inshallah, the Emirate wins the Expo 2020 win? What do you think?