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Tr ends2013 expo international

  1. 1. © Getty images Business Total Expo-sure Wall Street’s elite support Dubai’s bid to host the 2020 World Exposition and say it will be an opportunity for the region to showcase to the world that countries and cities in the Arab world are capable of holding global events. By Jay Akasie, New York “C onnecting Minds, Creating the Future.” That’s the theme of Dubai’s ambitious and enthusiastic bid for the 2020 World Exposition. Hosting the commercial and economic extravaganza has been a mission of the emirate for some five years. But everything is coming to an exciting climax now that the Bureau International des Expositions, the 100-year-old governing body of world expos, is set to choose the 2020 host city. Like every civil project it undertakes, the United Arab Emirates has thrown an enormous amount of time 76 TRENDS | October 2013 and funding behind its bid to become the 2020 host city. So far that effort has met with impressive results. For instance, the Netherlands’ foreign affairs minister, Frans Timmermans, recently said that his country supported the UAE’s bid to host the World Expo in 2020. But nowhere is support for Dubai’s bid more apparent than Wall Street. The world’s financial hub knows a thing or two about the interconnected nature of the global economy, and Dubai’s theme of Connecting Minds, Creating the Future has become a resounding success among the financial elite of the United States. “I think it’s great that the World Expo will likely come to Dubai,” says the president of Aetna International, Richard di Benedetto. “The purpose of the World Expo is to put citizens and countries front and center, and to display their innovations.” The prospect of a World Expo being held for the first time in a MENA country excites Mr di Benedetto, who says he is particularly impressed with the emriate’s slogan “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.” When you consider
  2. 2. © Corbis © Corbis how far Dubai has developed in the past 15 years, bringing the World Expo there is a testament to its rapid success in the fields of infrastructure and finance. Dubai has been consistent in what they want to do and how they want to do it.” Aetna’s di Benedetto says that the world economy has become interconnected because of the financial markets and the information revolution. But the globe is also connected through advances in healthcare. “World Expos allow you to see what brings people together,” he says. di Benedetto points to the Gulf’s commitment to building healthcare infrastructure as a reason Dubai should become the host city of 2020. “They have built everything from primary care facilities to top-notch specialty care hospitals that are state-of-the-art in the region. Part of the Gulf’s “leapfrog” in healthcare technology involves the various GCC national healthcare management programs. Mr. di Benedetto says he’s honored that Aetna is working with Qatar to build a healthcare system for Qatari nationals starting with maternity care for 95,000 women. In less than two months, the Bureau International des Expositions, which represents 167-member states, will choose a country as the standard-bearer of its continuing mission: to embody “a global commitment to engage the public in promoting innovation in the service of human progress.” Indeed, since 1851, when London amazed onlookers with its innovative Crystal Palace pavilion, the city that hosts the World Exposition joins a rarified league. The title of host city confers upon it a level of prestige that few municipalities – outside Olympic cities themselves – can claim. According to the American financier Oliver Pursche, Dubai is about as modern and business-friendly an environment as one can find. Pursche, a co-founder of both Montebello Partners LLC, and Legacy Benefit Assurance LLC and president of Gary Goldberg Financial Services, says that choosing Dubai to host the Expo is a validation of its global financial presence. Putting the global financial crisis aside, he says that the choice of Dubai as a venue Indeed, since 1851, when London amazed onlookers with its innovative Crystal Palace pavilion, the city that hosts the World Exposition joins a rarified league. also underscores the significant rise in attention given to Islamic finance. “Wall Street is slightly behind the curve compared to the City of London and hubs in Asia, but it is certainly recognizing that Islamic finance is at the forefront at the minds of asset managers, especially when it comes to sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East-North Africa region.” Dubai’s demographics have a huge influence on investment cycles, according to Pursche. Because the MENA region claims the youngest demograhic in the world, investors are looking to the area for long-term investment plays. “From our perspective, Dubai plays a very big role,” says Mr. Pursche. “We all know what ageing populations in Western Europe and the United States mean to the investment world. We are experiencing a phase of more asset withdrawal than asset gathering on an overall basis. That’s what makes countries such as the UAE so attractive.” 167 2010 FIVE PERCENT is the number of member states of Bureau International des Expositions. The bureau will choose a country that will host the fair in 2020. Was the year when Shanghai in China hosted World Expo. It is estimated that some 73 million people from around the world attended the event. Of the estimated 70 million visitors to 2010’s World Expo in Shanghai were foreigners, and the rest of the visitors came from within China. October 2013 | TRENDS 77
  3. 3. © Corbis Business Paris again hosted the 1900 Expo, at which inventions such as the diesel engine, the escalator, the ferris wheel, and talking movies, made their debuts. Pursche says he had the pleasure of attending a recent Ernst & Young Entrepreneurs Forum in Monaco, where one of the most compelling stories involved a MENA businessman named Akram Khreis. He continues to build food and beverage infrastructure across the region. “Whereas Western companies couldn’t figure out how to make things work over there, Khreis knew how to unlock the opportunities present in the MENA region,” he says. Shanghai hosted the World Expo in 2010. It took what was once an industrial park and completely transformed it into a glittering showplace. Some 73 million people from around the globe passed $4.2 BILLION $45 BILLION 2015 Was spent by China in organizing the world expo in Shanghai. The amount was double the money China spent on the Olympics. Was allocated to upgrade Shanghai’s infrastructure, creating the world’s longest metro system for the expo held in 2010. Is the year when the world expo will be held in the city of Milan, Italy. The theme chosen for the expo is ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for life’. 78 TRENDS | October 2013 through the exposition, which not only displayed Shanghai’s industrial prowess, but also showed the innovative and technological feats of the hundreds of countries that participated in the expo. The 1889 Expo in Paris featured the Eiffel Tower as its architectural centerpiece. When the United States first hosted the Expo, during that nation’s centennial in 1876, businessmen introduced such innovations as the telephone, the commercial typewriter, and Heinz Ketchup. Paris again hosted the 1900 Expo, at which inventions such as the diesel engine, the escalator, the Ferris Wheel, and talking movies made their debuts. At the 1904 Expo in St. Louis, visitors marveled at the edible, waffle ice cream cone (cones had until that time been made of paper or metal). Today, as the nations of the Middle East, South Asia, and North Africa join the Western powers as economically developed powerhouses, it stands to reason that bringing the World Expo to Dubai in 2020 would be a logical choice. Dubai’s theme builds upon the notion that the global economy continues to become more intertwined. According to the UAE’s bid committee, “while a single human mind, an individual country, or a specific community is both unique and remarkable, it is by working collaboratively that we truly advance.” The Emirates, long known for its commitment to sustainable practices and progressive economic policies, is putting yet another foot forward in its bid to become the host city. If the Paris-based committee chooses Dubai this autumn, it will be the first time in the 150-year history of the expo that the Middle East-North Africa-South Asia region has hosted such an event. As such, Dubai is touting the fact that its airports and freight hubs are among the finest in the world. Its selection of hotels and tourism infrastructure can easily accommodate the tens of millions of visitors who will come to the expo in 2020. “To their credit, Dubai has built up an impressive infrastructure over the past 15 years,” says Jacob Yahiayan, a Wall Street banker. “Getting the bid to host the World
  4. 4. © Getty images Business ...the Expo is significant for Dubai because it hasn’t yet reached the financial status of Hong Kong or London as far as the capital markets are concerned. Expo in 2020 further solidifies Dubai as the geopolitical hub in the region. It’s the icing on the cake for them.” Mr. Yahiayan is the founder and managing member of Continental Advisory Services LLC, a merchant bank and family office on Wall Street. He is formerly an investment banker with Standard Chartered Bank and was based for a time in Beirut, among the bank’s other global offices. The Expo bid adds to Dubai’s successful assimilation of best practices and a willingness to create global standard in trade, finance, infrastructure, and civil engineering, according to Mr. Yahiayan. It’s yet another example of the emirate’s conviction to get to that global scale. Mr. Yahiayan says that going after the Expo is significant for Dubai because it 80 TRENDS | October 2013 hasn’t yet reached the financial status of Hong Kong or London as far as the capital markets are concerned. “That’s the real benchmark,” he says. “So having a successful bid for the Expo will further help Dubai in its quest to be the location of a major bourse.” More than simply a fair, the World Expo means business. New partnerships and economic agreements invariably arise out of the networking that comes out of bringing hundreds of prominent businesses together in one place. Not to be outdone by the 1889 Expo in Paris, which saw the construction of the Eiffel Tower as its prime attraction, the Dubai bid committee has said it plans to build an arena for the 2020 Expo that will be unlike anything the world has ever scene. Dubai would build a new type of exhibition and presentation space – the so-called Expo Live – for the participating countries that will include a huge indoor “tent” that can accommodate thousands of visitors. According to the bid committee, the Innovation Pavilion and the Innovation Laboratories will showcase projects and solutions inspired by Expo Live through its global effort to encourage innovation. “These pavilions will be dynamic and thriving centers of activity during the Expo and will represent an important pole of attraction for both the communities of innovators as well as the general public,” the committee stated in a release. According to Christopher Doyle, Esq., the prospect of Dubai hosting a World Expo in 2020 could be a boon to the region’s reputation and economy. Now in private practice, Mr. Doyle was formerly with a prominent Wall Street law firm. In fact, he says, when a municipality hosts a major international event of one kind or another, doing so can generate a tremendous increase in revenues over the lifetime of the event. “There are many collateral economic benefits and perhaps cultural benefits to the host city,” says Mr. Doyle. “One does not have to look further than the benefits a city receives when it hosts the Olympic games.” Because of rapidly increasing technology, industrial nations are more and more interconnected. Dubai is an ideal place to host an exposition focusing on international business and commerce, he says. “Should Dubai be chosen as a site for 2020, there is a real possibility that world understanding of Islamic finance will be enhanced, and hopefully with that, the industrial world’s awareness of Islamic culture,” Doyle says. “The event will be a force for good in a world that is increasingly fragmented by cultural and economic misunderstandings...distance between the two cultures will diminish.”