Happiness 2018: Expo, Economy, and Happiness

Passions ignited, and then calmed after that magnificent Expo 2020 win turned into the longest of build ups. Now, with just over two years to go however, the excitement is just beginning to mount again...
Happiness 2018: Expo, Economy, and Happiness
By David Westley
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The Bureau International des Expositions general assembly in Paris awarded Dubai host status of Expo 2020 on November 27, 2013 just before midnight. The emirate's population promptly erupted as if it had won the biggest and best world cup in history. People who had never heard of the Word's fair before were jubilant, convinced this was going to change everything...

And the reality is the Expo is changing everything - although perhaps not as everyone envisaged and certainly at a much slower pace than the exuberant Dubai thought it would in the first heady months following the victory.

Maintaining that initial level of optimism was always going to be impossible: The emirates won the rights to the Expo with a long, six year run in. Even today there is still another 2.5 years to go.

As we approach mid 2018 we are very much at the beginning of the end however. The $33 billion USD of Expo related projects have actually started to go live, and delivery will only accelerate: In 18 months’ time, at the start of 2020, the construction should largely be done.

The result is that the UAE is beginning to get excited again, although not the feverish exuberance that gripped the whole nation in the first year.

Our Survey asked whether Expo 2020 gave respondents a) a great deal more confidence in the UAE economy, b) A little more confidence in the UAE economy or c) Made no difference to the UAE economy.

Just shy of 58% of respondents told us they believe Expo is already having some effect, with one in four respondents saying it gave them a great deal more confidence in the economy. 42% of respondents still think it has made no difference to the UAE however.

Interestingly respondents outside of Dubai, where the expo will be held, believe more strongly in its effect than those in the host emirate. Over one in four Abu Dhabi respondents say the Expo is already giving them a great deal more confidence in the UAE economy, a figure falling to 23.33% in Sharjah, and 18.6% in Dubai. Conversely, only 36% of respondents from Sharjah think the Expo has had no effect, compared to 46% in Dubai.

One reason for this may be income. What we can see from the chart is the UAE's lowest income groups believe the Expo is making the greatest difference to the UAE economy. As respondent income increases so belief in the Expo's contribution declines.

The relationship with income holds true until we hit households earning somewhere between 30-40,000 AED per month when respondents saying the Expo has given them a great deal more confidence begins to rise again. Interestingly however the bigger grouping of those who say it has given them a "great deal of confidence" or a "little confidence” continues to decline until we hit families earning over 150,000 AED a month.

Emiratis are the biggest believers in the effect of the Expo, with over 57% of locals already a great deal more confident in the UAE economy because of the Expo, and 71.4% being either a great deal or a little more confident in the economy because of the World's fair.

There are fewer Filipinos a "Great deal" more confident, but a larger number who believe the Expo has made some contribution to the economy than even the Emiratis. In total 71.6% of Filipinos believe the Expo has already had some (a great deal or little) impact on the UAE.

Indians, Arab Nationals and Pakistanis fall just behind Emiratis and Filipinos in the belief in the transformative effect of the Expo, showing considerably more confidence than the more skeptical Europeans or Americans. Ironically the French, who provide the home for the organisers of the World’s Fair, are currently the nationality who believe the Expo has, so far, had the least effect. Just under 3 in 4 French respondents argue the Expo has made no impact to the UAE economy.

WhichSchoolAdvisor.com will run the Happiness Survey again at the start of 2019, and again at the start of 2020. We would wager a considerable sum that, year on year, the numbers expecting the impact of the Expo to be significant will rise sharply as some of the original exuberance returns. By 2020 itself we believe even the most doubtful of residents - high or low earners, longtime residents or new ones, Filipinos or French - will once again be true believers in the Expo's transformative effect.


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Happiness 2018: Who are the Happiest People in the UAE
Happiness 2018: Property Matters
Happiness 2018: Expo 2020 and Happiness
Happiness 2018: Growing up in the UAE
Happiness 2018: The Changing Face of Expats
Happiness 2018: In Search of the Dolce Vita
Happiness 2018: How the UAE is Switzerland

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