Expo 2020 Dubai is finally open. Called the world's greatest show, the city will host an estimated 25 million visitors from around the world for 182 days. Eight months after originally planned, Expo 2020, Dubai has opened to the world under its theme of 'Connecting Minds, Creating the Future'. It marks the biggest global event on this scale to be held since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A showcase of contemporary solutions
Expo 2020 Dubai is the 35th world fair over the past 170 years. They're designed to showcase ideas, inventions, and innovations that tackle the world's problems. The opening ceremony featured the world-famous tenor Andrea Bocelli, singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding and Grammy Award winner Angelique Kidjo amongst many others.
192 countries are taking part in the event which will continue for the next six months. The three sub-themes are sustainability, mobility, and opportunity. Many events will be streamed live online, but Expo 2020 still officially expects to attract more visitors than previous host Milan as the travel restrictions ease globally.
The deputy general commissioner of the Spain Pavilion, Carmen Bueno, said the event was important as it is the first real gathering of its kind since the global pandemic hit. “It's going to be a physical gathering of people from many diverse parts. We are ready to visit and we are ready to experience and to share experiences with others.”
As the first world fair to be held in the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa region, plans are ambitious. It's hoped it will bring the global community together to tackle challenges such as climate change, conflict, and economic growth.
Elsewhere, the UK government is introducing temporary work visas for 5000 fuel tanker and food lorry drivers amid growing concerns about deliveries of food and fuel. Some places have experienced long queues at petrol stations after a shortage of drivers disrupted deliveries.
Pro-Brexit cabinet officials are keen to downplay the suggestion that the current driver shortage is a result of Britain's departure from the European Union. They said the coronavirus pandemic added to the problem and saw thousands of truck drivers leaving the UK to go back to their homes in the EU. This has now lead to a domestic increase in people training for HGV licences and employers have been forced to offer substantial pay rises to make the profession more attractive.
Andrew Hawes is an instructor at the National Driving Centre. He said that over the past month, salaries for some drivers have almost doubled. “With Covid, we've seen a big transition from other industries. So for instance, we've had airline pilots, we've had barristers come in to do the HGV courses because they can see it as sustainable employment.”
The British Military is also now being deployed to help relieve the supply shortages in a move to ease pressure on the industry, which has resulted in long lines at petrol stations and empty pumps.
A 50-year agenda
The United Arab Emirates has announced plans to launch 50 new economic initiatives to boost the country's competitiveness and attract 126 billion euros in foreign direct investment over the next nine years.
One initiative, the 10 by 10, aims to increase UAE exports by 10 percent annually to 10 global markets. Other projects include investing in technology and creating new visas for entrepreneurs and skilled workers, and a widening of familial sponsorships to attract and retain residents. Another will see the UAE and the Emirates Development Bank (EDB) investing €1.1 billion in industrial technology and technology-heavy sectors.
Ahmed Mohamed Al Naqbi, the CEO of Emirates Development Bank said EDB is here to help as a financing partner for a couple of these projects. “There's two key initiatives that we're working on. One is five billion dirhams that will be allocated into the market as financing for SMEs over the next five years to 2025. We're also looking at food security, manufacturing, health care, and infrastructure.”
A new data law was also unveiled by Omar Sultan Al Olama, the UAE Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy, and Remote Work. He said they wanted to ensure that the digital economy and digital economy companies have a big incentive to come to the UAE and to call the UAE home.
“We know that the landscape in the digital economy sphere is ever-changing. We know that there are new trends that are coming up, so we don't claim to always be at the forefront. We want to continuously strive to be the leaders in the space”.
As the UAE celebrates its golden jubilee this December, the nation is establishing an agenda for the next 50 years based on its continued development and opportunity.