Scotland at Expo 2020 Dubai: evaluation report

An evaluation report detailing the work undertaken in developing and delivering Scotland's programme of activity and engagement at the EXPO 2020 Dubai between October 2021 and March 2022, highlighting outcomes achieved and recommendations to support participation at future World Expo events.

Section 1: Executive Summary

EXPO 2020 Dubai was the first time Scotland engaged with a world Expo in a major way. The Scottish programme consisted of a range of daytime Activations and evening receptions delivered on specific dates across the six months of the event. The Activation programme focused on key themes that showcased the very best of Scottish innovation and global business ambitions in Digital Healthcare, the transition to a Net Zero Economy and our emerging Space sector.

Scotland events attracted more than 1000 attendees – in person and online through our virtual platform - with more than 40 Scottish businesses and over 60 organisations from Scotland and the UAE involved. Scotland's presence generated significant media coverage across the UAE, in Scotland and internationally helping to promote Scotland as "open for business" during the pandemic.

While the global pandemic presented significant challenges, the strength of our Team Scotland approach helped us to work across organisational boundaries, deliver extensive audience recruitment and engage the right business leaders to participate.

EXPO 2020 Dubai delivered positive global media coverage and positioning opportunities as well as early commercial gains for Scottish companies in the form of £8.1m of contracts as part of the event site design build and procurement phase. In addition, Scottish companies showcased as part of our events and associated trade missions have projected revenue forecasts in excess of £89m as a direct result of their participation. Two Scottish companies have already enjoyed some early post Expo benefits by successfully securing ongoing partnership collaborations and commercial contracts.

The Ministerial engagement activity delivered during our Net Zero Activation events has helped successfully progress Government to Government relationships with the UAE and is already supporting future collaborations.

Longer term successes are still to be measured and will continue to be tracked in order to help us fully understand outcomes.

Recommendations for Future Expo's

Scotland at EXPO 2020 Dubai perfectly demonstrated the strength of the Team Scotland approach and ensured delivery of a programme of activity resulting in a number of highlights, outcomes, learning points and associated recommendations for any future Expo participation.

Based on our experience at EXPO 2020 Dubai it is recommended that Scotland would benefit from having a presence at future World Expo's with some key considerations to take into account before committing to a programme.

Nick MacLean Scottish Government Trade Envoy to the UAE was an integral part of the Scottish presence and the programme in his role as moderator, host and in market adviser on the Steering Group. He provided feedback and comment on his engagement with the Scotland Team and made specific comment on the benefits of our EXPO 2020 Dubai presence and on the issue of future Expo participation:

"Scotland's participation in future Expo events should be determined by the usefulness of the host nation to Scotland's trade and investment ambitions. Dubai's hosting of Expo 2020 was extremely valuable to Scotland because of the opportunities for growth in trade and the UAE's capability of significant capital investment to Scotland, particularly through the activities of its sovereign wealth funds and with the background of the sovereign partnership formed last year between the UAE and the UK."

Another important consideration for future Expo's is the possibility of Scotland choosing to becoming an independent nation in the years leading up to EXPO 2025 Osaka (taking place between April and October 2025). An independence scenario would have significant implications for our future participation and we have sought to cover this in more detail at Section 11 - Future Expo Participation - and as part of the Recommendations at Section 12.



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