Dubai splashes billions on mega projects ahead of Expo 2020

Dubai has the world’s busiest international airport. (AFP)
Updated 08 April 2018
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Dubai splashes billions on mega projects ahead of Expo 2020

Dubai: Dubai is splashing tens of billions of dollars on infrastructure and hospitality projects related to the international trade fair Expo 2020, Dubai-based BNC Network said in a report published Sunday.
The value of Expo-related projects under way hit $42.5 billion in March, according to the Construction Intelligence Report.
It said that $17.4 billion was invested in infrastructure and transport projects, $13.2 billion on housing and $11 billion for hotels and theme parks.
The projects include an $8 billion expansion of Al-Maktoum International Airport — located at the southern pole of the city and tipped to complement Dubai International Airport to the north.
Dubai airport was the world’s busiest for international travel in 2017, handling more than 88 million travelers.
Al-Maktoum, when complete, will have the capacity to handle 160 million travelers per year.
The emirate is spending $2.9 billion to develop a new metro line that will link its main transport hubs to the Expo site.
The new line will also link the $13.4 billion Dubai South Villages and Dubai Exhibition City, projects currently under way.
Authorities expect Expo 2020 to boost the real estate market and the hospitality sector, creating up to 300,000 new jobs and energising the economy.
The six-month event, the first World Expo to be staged in the Middle East, is expected to attract up to 300,000 visitors per day, half of them from abroad, when it opens in October 2020, according to the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Dubai, a city state which has established itself as a regional business hub and tourism destination, has the Gulf’s most diversified economy that is not dependent on oil.
The economy of Dubai, where the population of three million people is comprised mainly of foreigners, is based on finance, property, tourism and leisure.
Over 21 percent of this year’s public spending of $15.5 billion is earmarked for infrastructure projects.


Time to tear down Mideast trade barriers, Davos panel hears

Updated 23 January 2019
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Time to tear down Mideast trade barriers, Davos panel hears

  • Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri, Saudi minister of economy and planning, said a move to ease movement of traffic across the border could be followed elsewhere
  • Majid Al Futtaim CEO Alain Bejjani: Now there’s this seriousness between Saudi Arabia and the UAE, I hope it gets to frictionless trade

DAVOS: Amid global trade wars and the rise of protectionism, Middle East economic and business leaders on Tuesday issued a clarion call for the exact opposite: To ease customs restrictions in the region.
A panel at Davos heard how an agreement between Saudi Arabia and the UAE to boost cooperation — including the reduction of obstacles to trade across the shared border — could be a blueprint for the wider region.
Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri, Saudi minister of economy and planning, said a move to ease movement of traffic across the border — partly through the use of technology — could be followed elsewhere. “We want to establish a reference for others to follow,” he said.
Alain Bejjani, CEO of retail and leisure group Majid Al Futtaim, said “frictionless trade” would give the region a boost.
“Now there’s this seriousness between Saudi Arabia and the UAE, I hope it gets to frictionless trade,” he told Arab News on the sidelines of the Davos forum.
Bejjani declined to say whether that would involve a customs union, a common market or a common currency. Given the imposition of trade tariffs between the US and China, and the rise of Brexit, globalization — something espoused by many Davos delegates — is seen as on the wane.
But Bejjani said breaking down barriers in the Middle East could help it better compete with Western Europe and the US.
“For the past almost century now… we’ve been ingeniously working on making sure we put barriers across the Arab world. The reality is we have a market that’s as big as most of the largest markets in the world… if we’re smart enough to work together,” he told the Davos panel.
Khalid Al-Rumaihi, chief executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board, agreed that Saudi-UAE cooperation was “a great template” for others to follow.
Aside from “opening up” Middle East markets, Al-Rumaihi said harmonizing regulation in the region would also be beneficial to businesses and entrepreneurs.
“If the rules are changing in each country, if they’re not harmonized, it’s very difficult… for an entrepreneur (to understand) the regulatory environment. So they don’t scale very quickly, and that’s something we need to solve,” he said. Talk of freer trade within the Middle East is especially relevant when it comes to the Palestinian territories, which are subject to Israeli occupation and blockade.
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said freer movement and a reduction of duties would help the economy grow.
“We need to see our products being waived (of) customs,” he said. “We need mobility — we’re under occupation.”