Expo 2020 is the first world exposition to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region, and the largest event ever hosted by an Arab country. This marks a significant departure from the usual suspects, namely the European, North American and Asian hosts, and at the very least highlights the importance of the emirate - and the UAE in general - in the Middle East region. We see this 'win' as another indication of Dubai's ambition, commitment and desire to constantly generate new business, diversify away from oil and maintain its position in the world city rankings.
More than 190 countries have confirmed their participation for the event and more than 25 million visitors from around the world will flock to the city, 70% of them from outside the UAE. In our eyes, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Dubai to showcase its welcoming nature and cosmopolitan character, and reinforce its reputation as an international business hub. All while demonstrating its superior preparedness and safety standards in the midst of the pandemic.
Undoubtedly, the Expo is a bet the city does not want to lose. Dubai is already world famous for its tourism and zero-tax system, but to sustain growth, the city must continue to attract new businesses. Expo 2020, with all its lights and global attention, offers a unique opportunity to achieve this; to show the world that the city can deliver, to show people that it can sustain growth, to attract new people by offering new opportunities. In short, to 'feed' the abundant supply of infrastructure and materials with real economic substance.
The biggest impact that the event will have on Dubai will be economic. It is estimated that the country will continue to benefit from the exhibition for a full decade. Either from the infrastructure, transportation facilities or services.
Since the announcement of Expo 2020, there has been an increase of residential and commercial development at the site. New shopping centers, hotels and over 400 restaurants as well as luxury housing and cycling paths, will be completed prior to the highly anticipated event.
With a surge of new visitors to the emirate for Expo 2020, we expect that there will be a surge of prospective investors in Dubai's real estate sector. The likelihood of investing in Dubai has become increasingly more attractive due to several proactive government incentives such as the introduction of new visas; special investor and retirement visas, golden long-term visas, and the reduction of the loan-to-value (LTV) for first time homebuyers to 20 per cent initiated by the UAE Central Bank. These initiatives will provide a significant boost to the industry and, in turn, the economy.
In terms of future trends, Expo 2020 has opened up a new focus for investors in areas such as Business Bay, Jumeirah Village Circle, Sports City, Barsha South and areas close to the Expo site. While property occupancy is still low, the expansion of Maktoum Airport is expected to dramatically increase tourism in these areas. With improved infrastructure, including new metro connections and additional commercial and residential space, the area is growing rapidly. There has been an influx of tourists working from home in Dubai, and this influx is expected to steadily increase.
In addition, the legacy of Expo 2020 will continue to impact the emirate's real estate sector with the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan, which envisions sweeping changes to the city's built-up areas.