Insight Discovery: Grant Thornton looks at SME potential in Dubai Expo 2020

31 March 2014
Grant Thornton says Dubai Expo 2020 will profoundly change the business environment in which small and medium enterprises (SMEs) operate. This article is part of Insight Discovery's report Dubai Expo 2020: A high stakes event.

The report focuses on the results of a survey conducted by Insight Discovery to ask what residents of the United Arab Emirates really think about the event and what lies ahead for residents, businesses and the infrastructure as a whole.

Expo 2020: What does it mean for SMEs?

The optimists are right. Expo 2020, Connecting Minds, Creating The Future, will highlight how the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is an important country in global terms. The event will reinforce the country's status as a regional business hub - serving the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, as well as Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Not only will this be a first for the UAE, but this is also the first time that the World Expo will be hosted by a country in the MENASA region, therefore being a remarkable win and providing endless opportunities for the present and future population of the UAE.

Expo 2020 will create endless opportunities, attract inbound investment, alongside further endorsing pivotal sectors such as leisure & hospitality, real estate & construction and transportation to name a few.

The UAE has consistently achieved rapid growth since the country's foundation in December 1971, which is due to the dynamism of its entrepreneurs and visionary leaders.


Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have played a key role in the development of the UAE and will be central to the success of Expo 2020.  The event will provide opportunities on which SMEs will be able to capitalise on, however one implication is that SMEs will need access to greater amounts of finance for new investment and working capital.  Among much else, there will be pressure on governments to strengthen regulatory systems.

Furthermore, financial standards will need to be reviewed in order to boost transparency and to promote global best practices; rules and regulations pertaining to mergers and acquisitions will need further clarification and many entrepreneurs will have to do deals in order to maximise the probability of success of the projects which they undertake for Expo 2020. As a result, the sophistication of corporate risk management in the UAE will also rise dramatically.

The emergence of start up's is expected to bring a level of increased competition into the local market, which will drive the need for dynamic approaches, embracing new channels of customer acquisition and retention and keeping ahead of the technological innovation which could lead to competitive advantage.

In summary, we believe that Expo 2020 will be much more than another internationally recognised event for which the UAE is already famous. It will profoundly change the business environment in which the country's dynamic SMEs operate. The benefits for the country will therefore be far more significant than most commentators are currently suggesting, leaving a lasting mark for generations to come.

© Insight Discovery 2014


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