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Expo 2020 Dubai catalyses significant economic boost with awards of AED 6.8 billion of contracts to SMEs

25 Apr, 2022

Expo 2020 Dubai awarded AED 6.8 billion of contracts to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), providing a significant contribution to a vital sector of Dubai’s vibrant economy and exceeding a commitment made in 2016 to award at least 20 per cent of all direct and indirect spend to SMEs. 

The figure represents more than a quarter of all Expo 2020 Dubai contracts in terms of value. Of the 3,245 suppliers awarded Expo 2020 Dubai contracts, 66 per cent (2,150) were SMEs, with 64 per cent (1,390) of these comprising domestic SMEs, reflecting the calibre and diversity of UAE-based enterprises and supporting the UAE’s wider drive towards a thriving private sector and more resilient economy.  

The majority of the 760 overseas SME suppliers hailed from the United Kingdom (24 per cent), the United States (16 per cent), France (4 per cent), India (4 per cent) and Australia (4 per cent). Overall, suppliers from outside the UAE were sourced from 94 countries, indicative of the World Expo’s global reach and impact.

Mukhtar Safi, Chief Financial Officer and Deputy CEO, Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “Our commitment to SMEs has been embedded into our planning since the very beginning of our World Expo journey, honouring the visionary leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to support and empower SMEs – the lifeblood of economies across the world, including the UAE, where they are an important driver of economic growth and a vital source of job creation. 

“The integration of SMEs into the delivery of what has been a truly exceptional World Expo will be an important part of Expo’s legacy for the UAE and wider region, stimulating employment, strengthening existing industries, enhancing SME competitiveness and ultimately contributing to sustainable economic growth.” 

From construction firms to event organisers, retail stores to food and beverage outlets, SMEs played a key role in the success of Expo 2020 Dubai, which awarded AED 1.06 billion to UAE-based SMEs in 2021 alone.

Of this, AED 161.7 million (USD 44 million) in contracts were awarded to Dubai SMEs, strengthening Dubai’s Government Procurement Programme, which requires UAE Government entities and establishments where the government holds equity of 25 per cent or more to allocate 10 per cent of their purchasing to Emirati firms that are members of Dubai SME – part of the Department of Economic Development that provides support, information and outreach for the growing SME sector. 

The Expo 2020 Dubai procurement process itself was based on three principles: Simplicity, Transparency and Inclusivity, allowing business of all sizes to do business with Expo 2020 Dubai as easily and competitively as possible. In 2018, Expo 2020 Dubai became the first World Expo and only the second ever mega-event to secure an Excellence in Procurement Award from the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply.

Expo 2020 Dubai defines SMEs as any enterprise that falls within employee headcount and turnover thresholds, depending on the relevant sector, as classified by Dubai SME. 
 
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