The Dubai Expo 2020 and the UAE Diplomacy


The United Arab Emirates hosts the first World Expo in the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa. The Dubai Expo 2020 aims to assemble various people, communities, and countries to foster relationships, inspire action, and provide answers to real-life problems (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, 2019). The Expo features innovative, collaborative, and inspirational projects from more than 190 nations as a platform for widening horizons and trading ideas. The Expo coincides with the celebration of the country’s 50th anniversary and is expected to revitalize another prosperous 50 years (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, 2019). The exhibition organizers expect it to establish a significant and long-lasting legacy that will act as the standard of measuring future World Expos.

The economic diplomacy of the UAE encompasses support for diversity in the economy, inward and outward investment, trade promotion, and diplomacy in striking partnerships. The Dubai Expo is aligned with the country’s economic planning and foreign policy. The timing of the exhibition coincided with the announcement of the government’s economic projects. The Expo will play a critical role in facilitating trade and investment agreements between the UAE and the visiting participants. Through the exhibition, the UAE will also enter into new economic collaborations and strengthen the existing ones. The new projects announced by the government will provide a platform that aids conversations between global businessmen and leaders and businesses.

The Dubai Expo 2020 will attract more citizens from African and Asian continents who had been unable to attend previous world Expos as a result of visa requirements and high travel costs. The UAE will access new doors in productive trading channels to the African and Asian markets. In the process, it will increase the volume of goods it re-exports and export in these locations. The participating African countries will also benefit as they will closely cooperate with the Expo team to select, organize and present a narrative and experience that is reflective of individual countries. The African Union (AU) has also been invited. Its member states can utilize the Expo as a platform for education and engagement of potential new partners to support the continent’s vision of development.


  1. The capital expenditure of Expo 2020 spurs broader economic effects in major sectors such as construction, storage, transport and communication, hospitality and tourism, and the service sector.
  2. The exhibition strengthens the country’s competitiveness in the region. The event is expected to attract millions of visitors for six months and likely boost its businesses, thus strengthening UAE’s competitive position.
  3. The event inspires visitors to help in the preservation and protection of the planet, assess new alternatives, and develop a better future for all through its subthemes of opportunity, mobility, and sustainability. The subtheme of opportunity denotes unlocking individual and community potential so they can influence the future.
  4. UAE and the participating nations develop strong partnerships and diplomatic relations that encompass the key areas of innovation and technology, security, energy, educational programs, and finances.
  5. The Expo acts as a platform for fostering mutual understanding between participating countries and bolstering peaceful relations. The United Arab Emirates has often championed a peaceful and stable the Middle East. Since its state policy aims at supporting tolerance and protecting human rights, the Expo is the perfect platform to show it to the world in practice.
  6. The event’s success will improve the images of both Dubai and UAE as possessing the capacity to host major global events even in times of crisis. An enhanced reputation of brand Dubai will lure potential investors, businesses, and people to move into the country.
  7. More than three-quarters of the Expo infrastructure will remain and be part of the future city of district 2020. It will be a model international future community that utilizes ultra-modern innovation, science, and sustainability to develop a clean, safe and healthy environment that people can live in and work in (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, 2019). Various pavilions will feature dynamic environmental projects aimed at a more sustainable planet. Several environmental concerns and possible solutions are likely to be discussed.
  8. The Expo serves to strengthen the relationship between UAE and its neighbors. The state of Qatar, a local rival, is currently having diplomatic issues with the UAE but is present at the Expo. Another rival, the Islamic Republic of Iran, is also in attendance and was remarkably and unpredictably received by visitors. The event will go a long way in calming the tensions between the UAE and these nations and pave the way for potential future partnerships.
  9. The event accelerates the economic diversification efforts of the UAE, aids the development of a knowledge economy, and stimulates cultural and creative living.


  1. The Expo will feature different people from different cultures and backgrounds. Communication, for instance, is expected to be a challenge due to language barriers. The culture of Dubai might also need getting used to by the visitors.
  2. It remains to be seen whether the economic targets of the Expo will be achieved. To stage such a global event is expensive and demanding and often strains the host city or country’s finances. Billions of dollars were used, and billions are expected as profits.
  3. The vulnerability of Dubai to illegal financial activities in the form of money laundering and illegal entrepreneurship gives it a bad reputation. It might hinder potential partnerships or investments from the Expo.
  4. The world is still in a pandemic, and mass gatherings are increasing the rates of Covid-19 infections. Unless health guidelines are strictly followed, many visitors are likely to get infected with the virus. Visitors against vaccines are likely to miss the Expo since it is a requirement to present proof of vaccination or the negative test administered in the previous 72 hours.
  5. UAE risks experiencing a cumulative effect on its government-related entities (GREs) and their ability to pay back the huge debt amounts they owe due to overbuilding for the exhibition.


  1. To maintain the superior competitive position enhanced by the Expo in the region for longer, the UAE government needs to ensure more women are part of the labor force.
  2. The United Arab Emirates needs to improve its relations with its neighbors, such as Qatar and Iran, to foster trade and investment since Expos are one-time events.
  3. The UAE government needs to allow United Nations experts and human rights activists to access the country and ensure human rights are upheld. This will improve its image and make it more attractive as a business destination and host for major global events.


Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. (2019). Expo 2020 Dubai. Web.

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DemoEssays. "The Dubai Expo 2020 and the UAE Diplomacy." January 5, 2023.