Expo 2020 – Why we should get it?


If there is one city in the world that has the panache to make the World Expo the best one ever, it has to be Dubai. It is about time the most bustling city in the Middle East is given the chance to show the world that the icons built to make this city into a leading fashion, holiday, retail and fun destination is just the beginning and we can take the surprise factor a notch higher with a World Expo in our bag.

If the Shanghai expo drew over 73 million visitors, one can only see the numbers spiraling with the exotic and sexy appeal Dubai. In UAE, we already have people from almost every corner of the planet living here….I should know as despite being an endangered species, people here have either heard of Fiji or have met a Fijian before.

When I travel to other countries, people often see me as the exotic islander who is part of an endangered species and I am often the first Fijian most people meet…there have been times when small airports have had to call their foreign affairs to set up a new code for Fiji because no other Fijian has entered their airport before. I am just glad that the UAE is one of few emerging nations that embrace people from both big and small countries…to me, this nation is already one big expo.

We now have over 200 Fijians who left a country resembling paradise to be in the UAE because there is no other country in the world that can offer us a lifestyle that is safe, dynamic, inspirational and with a ‘can do’ culture that mysteriously runs through the spirit of people who live here.

Dubai already is the fastest growing city seen in the last 10 years and survived every hurdle that was put forward by the forces that be and came out stronger than ever. People come here with a dream  to succeed and with the right attitude and a positive mindset, they are able to realize them.

We are told that a successful bid would create over 275,000 jobs for the region and we hope Dubai takes the lead in changing the face of the Middle East on the world stage. It gets tiring when we travel to supposedly developed countries and the ignorance the people have of the region leaves you reeling in shock – it makes one wonder if it is lack of education or cluelessness that creates this mysterious perception of the Middle East and it would be awesome if people saw the beauty, the hospitality and the wonders of the region through the eyes of Dubai during the expo.

A few weeks ago I went venturing into the desert to the Bugatti workshop in new Dubai that is emerging near DWC’s airport and it was an eye opener how fast this city is growing. There is absolutely no doubt that the new Dubai Airport will take pole position and take over big airports like Heathrow in the coming years…to me, they have already taken over the biggies even now in terms of comfort, service and visitor offering. (I remember vividly when we found out that even Sydney airport closed down for a few hours each night and had zero facilities for transit passengers – it was shocking and I was not amused having to miss a flight because of mixed messages between the airline and the embassy).

In this day and age, as the world becomes smaller, we need more cities to become open-minded like Dubai and offer seamless travel solutions to people. It gets tiresome when one has to go through an unnecessary long chain of paperwork to get visas and wait over 10 days to travel – I love that Dubai makes things so easy for travellers to come here for holidays.

I recently flew to Dubai from Los Angeles after 5 days in Beverly Hills. While my friends were out shopping in the world’s most premium outlets, I lay by the pool at the Beverly Wilshire sipping mocktails because we have all the premium brands one can imagine in Dubai and at a better price. The retail offering in Dubai is better than what one will find anywhere in the world.

Leaving LA, we flew business class returning from an A list Hollywood party and the lady at the check in gave us lounge passes with a smile saying we could enjoy the lounge. As we entered, my well-travelled friends from France, Russia, Italy and Germany took one look at the lounge in LA and agreed with me that Dubai was possibly the best airport in the world where travellers truly are given access to the best travel experience with luxury lounges and the best airport facilities.

The Expo will also be an amazing platform to show the world how hotel services really should be worldwide – the benchmark set by Dubai hotels at such high standards really does spoil us and also will encourage the world hospitality industry to sit up and take notice and learn that going the extra mile does has its rewards in terms of repeat visitors.

People come to Dubai for holidays, for shopping, for concerts, to be pampered but also for the already great exhibitions that Dubai hosts for every industry. I love attending the Arabian Travel Market, Cityscape, GITEX, the Hotel Show, The Motor Show, The Boat Show and even some more industry specific expos like the Light show and Beauty Show. Undoubtedly, our city is known to always host a great event that is talked about for days after.

People fly from all over the world to be part of Dubai’s exhibitions. The DWTC also gets the community involved and supports local event organisers – in fact I am super excited about attending the 15th Women’s Exhibition at DWTC in December. Again, this was in the past done at the Dubai Ladies Club but to encourage women in UAE to get even more entrepreneurial than they already are, the next exhibition is even bigger and it is all down to Dubai encouraging the culture of putting on a great event and encouraging people to showcase their original masterpieces.

Another great event that will have Fijians coming to Dubai next week is the Dubai 7s. Its an event close to my heart that Dubai hosts so that I don’t feel homesick for Fiji – Rugby runs in our blood and it is the perfect place once a year for all the Fijians in the region to connect with each other – at the biggest party on the planet hosted by Emirates over 3 days. I will not even begin to touch on the Dubai International Film Festival but all I can say is that it is the best…I had the best time last year with little diva getting excited about the previews and sitting by the water at the Madinat in between shows was a great feeling.

Down the road from Dubai, this very moment, I am on my lunch break at the Abu Dhabi Science Fair where people can have fun with science acts brought from different parts of the world. During the last 2 days I went to see the Abu Dhabi Art Fair at Sadiyaat and that was not bad either.

I also can’t wait to spend a few hours at Emirates Palace at some stage for a game of Polo. And then tomorrow I head back to my favourite place in the world…Dubai and my home – to sleep in my comfy 4 poster bed, shop at my favorite mall, stroll down to City Walk across my home and have some quality time with my child.

I guess I could write about the wonders of living in the UAE and in Dubai forever and I hope the Expo 2020 guys see this country through my eyes. There must be a reason why I left paradise to come and make UAE my home. It is a country that matches the pace in which I like to do things given the freedom and its vision for tomorrow gives me hope and energy to get out of bed and to get moving towards a future that amazes the world.

2 responses to “Expo 2020 – Why we should get it?

  1. What a fantastic post Shireen. Your thoughts resonate with my own and I do wish that Dubai gets the opportunity to hist Expo 2020. I just spent 2 months travelling in the US and I felt that the infrastructure and the comfort that we have become used in Dubai can’t be surpassed. Fingers crossed:)

  2. Totally agree Ishita. our hospitality sector is amazing. About time the world sees how amazingly hospitable, clean and efficient the people and the service industry is here.

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