Dubai Expo organizers ‘confident’ of hitting 2020 deadline

A computer-generated handout image released by UAE News Agency (WAM) shows architect Santiago Calatrava’s design for the UAE Pavilion for Dubai World Expo 2020 which was selected following a seven-month design competition. (AFP)
Updated 28 April 2019
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Dubai Expo organizers ‘confident’ of hitting 2020 deadline

  • Khosla said the target is to finish site construction by October this year, giving participating countries exactly one year to build their own stands and pavilions
  • 192 countries have already confirmed their participation at the global event

DUBAI: Organizers of the Expo 2020 set to take place in Dubai are “confident” and “positive” they will open the site on time, an official said on Sunday.
The Expo, held on a vast new site in the south of the UAE city, is due to open in October next year.
“We just have roughly less than 18 months before the Expo, and we have to open the gates … A delay is not an option,” said Sanjive Khosla, deputy chief visitor experience officer at Expo 2020.
Khosla said the target is to finish site construction by October this year, giving participating countries exactly one year to build their own stands and pavilions.
“This is the first time that an expo is taking place where every country has its own pavilion. This has never happened before. Previously what would happen is that certain countries would be put together under one pavilion. This time, we have guaranteed every single country a space,” Khosla told Arab News on the sidelines of the Arabian Travel Market at the Dubai World Trade Center.
At the time of writing, 192 countries have already confirmed their participation at the global event — estimated to attract 25 million visitors — with some countries having already starting construction work.
“Some of the countries have already started building. Those ones who are ready, we are giving them access to their plots. Germany was the last one that broke ground, Saudi Arabia has also already broken ground. So quite a few have already started,” Khosla said.
While preparations for the Expo are on track, Khosla said the real payoff of the event “is in the legacy,” something where some past expos have struggled.
“In the legacy phase, Expo 2020 will become something called District 2020, which will be a mixed-use commercial and residential district. There will be free zones that will focus on key sectors.
“We anticipate this to be a really thriving location in Dubai, supported by the metro station, supported by Dubai Exhibition Center, and most importantly the new airport.”
A recent independent report by global consultancy firm EY showed that the Expo 2020 will contribute a total of $33.4 billion between 2013 and 2031, which is 1.5 percent of the country’s GDP.
Around 905,200 full-time equivalent (FTE) job years across the UAE will be supported by the Expo, the report showed.
When asked of the UAE’s plans in maintaining investments post-Expo, Khosla said: “We are in the process of working on the whole framework of incentives and regulations which will make it attractive for investors and companies to set up in District 2020.”
He adding that further details are likely to be announced in the coming months.


Lebanon’s Hariri calls for cabinet solidarity in budget debate

Updated 18 June 2019
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Lebanon’s Hariri calls for cabinet solidarity in budget debate

  • The PM said cabinet ministers need to be united and responsible
  • Lebanon’s debt is almost 150% of its GDP

BEIRUT, June 18 : Lebanon Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri on Tuesday called for parliament to quickly approve the country’s 2019 budget and urged his coalition government to avoid internal disputes.
The cabinet this month agreed a budget plan that shrinks the projected fiscal deficit by 4 percentage points from last year to 7.6% by cutting spending and raising taxes and other fees.
“What I want during the debate is for us to be responsible and united, and not contradictory,” Hariri said in a statement, addressing cabinet ministers as to their comportment during the parliament debate.
Parliament’s finance committee is debating the draft budget and has suggested amendments, local newspapers reported. It will then put the budget to the full assembly to ratify it.
Parliament is mostly composed of parties that are also present in the coalition government and which supported the budget there.
Since the budget was agreed there have been fierce arguments between parties in the coalition over several subjects, though these have not targeted the budget.
Lebanon has one of the world’s heaviest debt burdens, equivalent to about 150% of GDP, and the International Monetary Fund has urged it to cut spending.
“We have held 19 cabinet meetings to agree on this draft budget and these sessions were not for fun, but for deep, detailed debate over every clause and every idea,” Hariri said.
“For this reason, I consider it the responsibility of each of us in government to have ministerial solidarity...to defend in parliament the decision that we have taken together,” he added.
After the 2019 budget is agreed, the cabinet must quickly start working on the 2020 budget and on approving the first phase of a program of investments toward which foreign donors have offered $11 billion in project financing. (Reporting by Angus McDowall, editing by Ed Osmond)