With one year to go until the doors open to the “The World’s Greatest Show”, SMEs are playing a vital role in the delivery of Expo 2020 Dubai.
More than 90% of all firms in Dubai are SMEs, accounting for upwards of 40% of GDP and employment in the emirate. “Expo 2020 is a long-term investment into the future of the UAE and SMEs are absolutely integral to creating and sustaining a thriving stable and diversified economy in line with the UAE Vision 2021 National Agenda,” says Tina Ghanem, Director of the Online Marketplace at Expo 2020 Dubai.
On exactly how it will boost the SME sector, Ghanem adds that the mega-event’s commitment to supporting these businesses is “already showing results” and that it is on track to fulfilling its pledge to divert 20% of its budget’s indirect and direct spending towards local and global SMEs. Ghanem says that, as of August this year, 55.4% of direct and indirect contracts worth an estimated $985.5 million had already been awarded to SMEs.
Expo 2020 is using a unique tool to connect with these enterprises—its Online Marketplace (OMP). This free-to-use platform lists tenders on a custom-built procurement system that helps companies pitch for business. It has more than 38,000 suppliers registered from more than 150 countries, approximately 85% of which are SMEs. While UAE-based enterprises make up the majority of registered businesses, others come from various countries around the world, such as the US, the UK, India and China. Up to 70 official licensees will be showcasing around 5,000 licensed products at the event. Some GCC-based SMEs already approved include The Camel Soap Factory and The Dates Bar Company.
Modified payment policies are also helping SMEs with cash flow. Ghanem shares that these include clearing payment and dues in 30 days instead of 90, offering 25% upfront payment when contracting services, 50% upfront payment for goods and products, and accepting only bank cheques. Official banking partner, Emirates NBD has also customized accounts designed for SMEs registered on the OMP.
The OMP is not the only way Expo is already showcasing innovation. “Our global innovation and partnership programme, Expo Live, has allocated $100 million to back projects with creative solutions that help improve people’s lives or preserve the planet—or both,” Ghanem explains. oDocs Eye Care, a New Zealand-based social enterprise, and Robotical, UK-based education company, are just a couple of examples of businesses benefitting from Expo Live.
Several developments for Expo 2020 have now been finalized, including Phase 3 and Phase 4 of the construction of two extensive road network projects—at a cost of $354 million—leading to the Expo 2020 site, and the construction of three Thematic Districts and Al Wasl dome. According to Ahmed Al Khatib, Expo 2020 Dubai’s Chief Delivery Officer, the Expo 2020 Metro station and Route 2020 Metro line are in the final stages of construction.
“Many international participants have already started breaking ground on their pavilions, we continue to progress at good pace and we are on course to deliver the event on time,” Al Khatib adds. “Through the teamwork of more than 30,000 workers on site each day, who have achieved more than 130 million work hours to date, we will be making more exciting announcements in the coming months.”
Expo 2020 is scheduled take place from 20 October, 2020 until April 10, 2021. It is expected to notch up 25 million visits from attendees across the world, and it has been estimated that it will boost the country’s economy by $33.4 billion from 2013-2031.