Attractions of Dubai and Expo 2020: an exploratory study

Sunitha K. Haneef*, Zakiya Ansari, Ganga Bhavani

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to provide context to the evolution of tourist attractions in Dubai, retrospectively learn from the experiences of the Milan and Shanghai Expos and to highlight the tourist attractions of Dubai Expo 2020. In so doing, the paper also seeks to understand how attractions play a role in shaping the growth of the tourism and hospitality sectors in Dubai. Design/methodology/approach: Data for this paper were gathered from primary and secondary sources. Informal discussions with officials of Expo 2020 generally and tourism stakeholders, in particular, who were willing to participate in this study, form the core of the primary data reflected in this paper. These discussions, which span a period of four weeks, were transcribed for later study and analysis. Findings: First, the tourism industry, the bedrock of Dubai’s economy, has witnessed remarkable growth during the period 1990-2015 and beyond because of its rich tourism infrastructure comprising hotels, tourism activities and tourist attractions. Second, it is important that Dubai Expo draws on the experiences and expectations of prior events and can apply lessons learnt from the Milan and Shanghai Expo events. Third, that Dubai Expo 2020 can enable Dubai to build on its established image for excellent infrastructure, attractions, hotels, affordable amenities, easy accessibility and highly-developed air and road transport systems. Research limitations/implications: Even if lessons learnt from the Milan and Shanghai Expo are taken into account, they may not account for unforeseen circumstances and sources of failure – though they provide a guide in relation to the conduct of a mega event. Practical implications: Dubai Expo 2020 can enable Dubai to build on its established and broadening global appeal. Social implications: Employment prospects will be enhanced by Expo 2020 that will project an image of Dubai as a world tourist destination to a far greater extent than it has done so to date. Social changes may also occur because of cultural exchanges during the Expo 2020 period. Originality/value: The paper discusses how strategic planning for new attractions combined with the existing attractions will help spread awareness of Expo 2020. The observations made from this study can be used by other nations hosting similar events in similar geographical areas, to help prepare and draw on prior experience and lessons learnt.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-278
Number of pages13
JournalWorldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Attractions
  • Dubai expo
  • Expo 2020
  • Hospitality
  • Tourism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Attractions of Dubai and Expo 2020: an exploratory study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this