Monday, September 8, 2014

Dubai on track to become ‘centre of the world’

(My article in The Gulf Today)
SHARJAH: Heads of three major business establishments that propel Dubai’s economy, along with others, have vouched that preparations for Expo 2020 are perfectly on track and Dubai is heading to become “a centre of the world.”
In an exclusive chat with The Gulf Today on the sidelines of “Supporting Irish Millennials” seminar organised by the Irish Business Network at the Atlantis Hotel on Saturday, Brendan Noonan, senior vice-president, learning and development, Emirates Group, Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice-Chairman of Dubai Duty Free and Gerald Lawless, president and chief executive officer of Jumeirah Group, also explained that Dubai has a strong Irish connection that gets strengthened by the day. Incidentally, all the three hail from Ireland.
“When you talk of Dubai, it is going to become a much bigger and happening place,” said Noonan.
“The Dubai World Central is already talked about internationally. The Al Maktoum International Airport, with its multiple runways, will be fantastic for operations.”
Asked about the ongoing preparations by the airline, he said, “We have a 10-year plan in terms of how we are going to fly, destinations and aircraft. We are in a very good position for 2020 and are very much involved in the whole process.”
He said that the Dubai government was doing a wonderful job, making sure everyone was aware of the progress. “A massive campaign has got everybody involved. Everyone who lives in Dubai is proud of it. At the end of the day, everybody is gearing up for the great event. In terms of infrastructure, hotels and airline, they are rapidly building up to meet those demands.”
In a specific mention about China, Noonan said there is lots of expansion in China. “It has a population of over a billion people and many have not travelled. With a strong economy, China also has a much bigger middle class and people want to see the world. What better place than Dubai?”
Colm McLoughlin concurs. What lies ahead for Dubai, in one word, is progress, he says. “Traffic to airport is increasing. There will be 95 million people by 2020. This year, 72 million passengers are projected to pass through the airport.”
“When I first came here over 30 years ago, there were only 300 or 400 Irish. But since that time, it has increased to 650,000 visas issued to Irish nationals. The Irish have a reputation of being honest and good workers. Now, there is an embassy opened in Abu Dhabi since 4 years and a UAE embassy functions in  Dublin. There are 700 UAE students in 3rd level education in Dublin. Several high-tech companies are exporting systems to the ME— it has grown rapidly in the last decade. That sort of sums up the Irish connection with Dubai,” he smiles.
Recounting history, McLoughlin says around 1845 a major famine led to shortage of food. Crops failed and one million people left Ireland and emigrated to America, Australia, South America etc. The Irish have traditionally been all over the world. Many US presidents have Irish descent. Even the present President Barack Obama visited his grandparents’ home in Ireland last summer. We are a travelling people. So the special connection with the UAE is not a surprise.”
“All announcements in Dubai are positive as the emirate is growing all the time. The city has fantastic infrastructure, good road system, Metro, 160,000 hotel rooms are coming up and there is lots of finance around. What more can one ask for?”
Lawless noted: “The Irish link in very easily. The Irish generally through history never colonised. The family values are a big thing in Ireland and that is a major connecting link with Emiratis, who hold family values as a treasure.”
Asked about preparations for Expo 2020, he said Dubai will achieve its potential. “It is not just 2020. Every organisation should reach its potential. We want to create a brand internationally out of Dubai and we are proud of the Dubai-based Arab brand internationally.”
“There are a line of projects on the way and we are happy with the progress. We will announce more details in future months.”


  1. I can see a lot of planning has been and is going on into making Dubai the place o be in.

  2. A very positive article, great to know how Dubai is preparing for the Expo 2020 :)

  3. Nice one Mr Ramesh.Dubai has already talk of the City in the Global Scenario.Good one.