Dubai Expo 2020: Opportunities for SMEs and young job seekers outlined

Dubai Expo 2020 organisers outlined opportunities for small business and graduate job seekers as it seeks greater collaboration with the private sector across the UAE.

A raft of measures to support potential suppliers include a tender bond and guarantee exemption for SMEs.

“The validity periods for proposal got cut from 120 days to 60 days for SMEs… Payment periods for SMEs is 30 days. [There is a] 25 per cent upfront payment for services, 50 per cent upfront for goods. No tender bonds required for SMEs, no guarantees required from SMEs to not lockout their liquidity,” Manal AlBayat, Expo 2020’s vice president of engagement, explained at an event in Abu Dhabi, co-organised by the Australian, French, Canadian business groups, the American Chamber of Commerce and the International Business Women Group.

Any company, regardless of the size and not necessarily located in the UAE, can approach the Expo for contracts by registering on the site, she said.

“It is for corporates, SMEs, individuals, freelancers, artists. They will be able to see what has already gone out to market, who’s been awarded to, and what is coming out next.”

Ms AlBayat said meetings are being held with businesses every six weeks to get feedback on how to make the Expo a success.

“We look into details and invite industries. We learn from the challenges that you are facing. We are looking at what is going to be blowing people’s minds in 2020. In 2185 [we want] people will talk about what we deliver now.”

Ms AlBayat also detailed Expo 2020’s Collaborative Entrepreneurship initiative.

“Not as CSR, but how can you incorporate an entrepreneur, an SME to be your innovation department, instead of hiring your own team,” she said.

Organisers are also working to ensure a social legacy for the region’s youth from this mega event. Roadshows and workshops at universities across the Emirates and around the world will highlight the potential for employment, said Ms AlBayat.

This includes collaborations between corporates and universities to provide training programmes.

“Any graduate unemployed below the age of 28 can apply to our Apprentice Programme. We [have received] about 2,700 applications.”

The is also a need for 30,000 volunteers for the Expo, she said.

“They can make or break the event because the first impression when you come down of the airplane is the hospitality of the city, so we have to make sure that we train them.”

The six-month exhibition expects to draw 25 million visitors, of which 70 per cent will come from beyond the UAE’s borders.

The challenge is to design a seamless journey for travellers, says Ms AlBayat.

“It does not matter how amazing the place is if people have to wait eight to nine hours to visit a pavilion.”

The Expo site is located strategically between Al Maktoum International Airport, Abu Dhabi International Airport, Dubai International Airport and Jebel Ali Port.

“80 per cent of the buildings will remain for legacy, so we have already started some conversations to see who will occupy that place when we move out,” she added.

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