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Dubai splashes billions on mega projects ahead of Expo

The six-month event, the first World Expo to be staged in the Middle East, is slated to pull in 300,000 visitors a day


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 on Sunday.

The value of Expo-related projects underway hit US$42.5 billion in March, said the Construction Intelligence Report.

It said that US$17.4 billion were invested in infrastructure and transport projects, US$13.2 billion on housing and US$11 billion for hotels and theme parks. The projects include an US$8 billion expansion of Al Maktoum International Airport - located at the southern pole of the city and tipped to complement Dubai International Airport in the north.

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Dubai's airport was the world's busiest for international travel last year, handling more than 88 million travellers. Al Maktoum, when complete, will be able to handle more than twice that number a year.

The emirate is spending US$2.9 billion to develop a metro line that will link its main transport hubs to the Expo site. The line will also link the US$13.4 billion Dubai South Villages and Dubai Exhibition City, projects currently underway.

The authorities expect Expo 2020 to boost the real estate market and the hospitality sector, create up to 300,000 jobs and energise 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, said the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Dubai, a city state of three million people (mostly foreigners) 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; its economy chugs along on finance, property, tourism and leisure.

Over 21 per cent of this year's public spending of US$15.5 billion is earmarked for infrastructure projects. Oil income contributes just six per cent to public revenues. AFP