A lot was at stake for Dubai before Expo 2020 started. The novel coronavirus had already pushed the event one year ahead of its original date. Still, there was an element of uncertainty if Dubai was going to pull it off amidst travel restrictions, social distancing, and Covid-19 SOPs. However, defying all odds, Dubai surpassed all expectations, and the event turned out to be a massive success.
It received a total of 24.1 million visitors from 178 countries throughout its six-month run. About 30.3 per cent of these visitors were overseas, and as many as over 5.8 million people were impacted by Expo live grants. There were live shows, visits from renowned celebrities and personalities, and special celebrations that captivated the interest of one and all throughout the duration of Expo 2020.
Expo 2020 impacted various sectors across Dubai. However, the Dubai property market benefited greatly from this edition of the world fair. The market was already on the route to recovery. Expo 2020 stimulated the recovery as it facilitated the influx of first-time visitors to Dubai and provided them with an opportunity to get a glimpse of its modern infrastructure, innovation, sustainable human-centric design, and upscale lifestyle, complemented by state-of-the-art facilities and amenities.
The successful fourth quarter of 2021 and the record-breaking figures of first quarter of 2022 depict the impact of Expo 2020. Statistics reveal that 17,942 transactions were reported in Q4, 2021 while Q1, 2022 produced even better results with 19,009 transactions. This is the highest ever first quarter in the Dubai property market.
Short-term rentals in areas closer to the Expo 2020 site facilitating visitors who had specifically come to Dubai to experience the grandeur of the world fair also remained high in demand during both these quarters.
Apart from Expo 2020, the recent expatriate-friendly initiatives and visa reforms announced by the government also played their role in producing these staggering figures in the property market.
Secondary beneficiaries of Expo 2020
Besides the real estate sector, the tourism sector was another major beneficiary of Expo 2020. Dubai was one of the first destinations to open its airports for visitors during the Covid-19 pandemic. Travel companies also announced special Expo packages for visitors.
Although there were strict regulations to be followed, people still poured in from all parts of the world, mainly to visit Expo 2020. The emirate welcomed more than seven million visitors in 2021, 32 per cent more than it received in 2020, according to Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET). Nearly half of the total visits (3.4 million) were recorded in the fourth quarter of 2021 after the Expo 2020 commenced.
The latest data reveals that 2.19 million people visited Dubai between January and February 2022. The total number of visitors during Q1 2022 is expected to be somewhere close to the final figure of Q4 2021, as a huge number of people visited Dubai to witness the grand closing ceremony of Expo 2020.
The influx of visitors in Dubai during the Q4 2021 and Q1 2022 helped the recovery of the tourism sector as visitors explored other attractions of Dubai apart from Expo 2020. It also benefitted hospitality, logistics, and F&B businesses across the emirate.
With Expo 2020 Dubai’s transition into District 2020, an integrated mixed-use community in Dubai South, the emirate is expected to maintain its upward trajectory across many sectors, particularly the real estate market.