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Mapping The Future

Expo 2020-Dubai: A golden opportunity to showcase the Philippine country brand

04:59 AM October 22, 2018

For every marketer, an expo is an indispensable tool to push one’s brand.

For businesses out to expand their markets, joining an expo is a surefire way to gain exposure for their companies and products, meet new clients, hear market feedback, and strengthen sales.

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For countries, it is a stage on which to show not only their products, but the qualities that make them stand out and differentiate them from the rest, whether as a tourism destination or an investment location. Expos bring together buyers and sellers under one roof, making possible transactions that would, otherwise, never come to fruition even with extensive advertising.

In today’s global village, expos play an even more powerful role, allowing marketers to communicate their best offerings and their ability to understand and meet the demands of global buyers amid a quickly changing environment.

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Here, buyers or investors can hear, feel, and understand the offerings the way only face-to-face interaction can.

It is therefore not surprising that the largest and most dynamic companies and countries are lining up to join the very prestigious Expo 2020, to be held in Dubai—the gold standard of international expos.

To be held in the wealthiest region of the world, at the crossroads of trade and culture, it promises to be a glittering exhibit that would spotlight the newest and best innovations and solutions.

Imagine the world’s largest companies and most dynamic economies coming together under one roof, with their services and offerings on show for six whole months.

So compelling are its offerings that over 180 countries are expected to take part in the expo, along with over 200 companies.

With 25 million expected visitors, it is not a small wonder why so many global companies have signed up at this stage. This year’s theme is Connecting Minds, Creating the Future, promising a platform for international partnerships to take shape.

Dubai’s hosting of the expo in 2020 is a monumental source of pride and they’re owning it to the hilt—imagine its government allocating Dh56 billion, around $15.25 billion, its largest-ever, to build a brand-new city complete with an exclusive airport for the occasion.

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Expos have also been an effective platform for nation-building.

Countries began putting up pavilions during the Expo ’88 in Brisbane to improve their national image.

At the Expo 2000 in Hanover, improving national image was the primary goal for 73 percent of participating countries.

The biggest expo attendance in history was at the Expo 2010 in Shanghai, wherein countries were able to showcase tourist destinations, local products and innovations; improve trade relations; and enhance opportunities for foreign investment.

For the Philippines, the upcoming Expo 2020-Dubai presents a golden opportunity to build up its country brand to focus on its strengths and offerings, and quash negative perceptions—especially since the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the biggest source of remittances in the Gulf region, having transferred over $2.54 billion in cash remittances in 2017, 17.8 percent more than the previous year.

It is also important to note that the UAE is home to the biggest population of OFWs, second only to Saudi Arabia.

That Expo 2020 to be held in Dubai is a great opportunity for the Philippines to showcase not only its products, but also its most wonderful asset—its people.

“The UAE, after all, is a country that Filipinos helped build,” says H.E. Hjayceelyn Quintana, Philippine Ambassador to the UAE. “There are over 700,000 young, dynamic, highly skilled Filipinos that have contributed to the success and productivity of many sectors of UAE society today.”

Even a first-time visitor to Dubai immediately recognizes the strong presence and contribution of Filipinos to its economy—their presence known, acknowledged and respected in almost every profession and sector, such as construction, health, education, and services. Entrepreneurial Filipinos have likewise set up small-and-medium enterprises in the country, adding to their economic contributions to the kingdom.

“Filipinos are known for their firm values that have kept them uniquely a cut above the rest—resilience and perseverance to pull through challenges, hardworking and dedicated to their respective professions and so are our intrinsic creativity and unwavering aspiration for excellence have positive impacts on the regional growth,” noted Maria Celeste “Bobbie” Carella, chair of the Philippine Business Council-Dubai.

Like many Filipinos in the UAE, she strongly believes that the Philippines should participate in the Expo 2020, which she notes to be a strong opportunity for the country to showcase its offerings in agri-aquaculture, manufacturing, tourism, medical services, the tech ecosystem and the arts.

Deborah Gay Dayrit, chair of the Philippine Business Council-Abu Dhabi, concurs.

“Expo 2020 will open huge opportunities for the Philippines. Boosting tourism entices investments which have an immediate effect on the country, to the community, to the families. It will also create more SMEs, which also result in more job opportunities. Our pavilion must entice investors to do business with us. It should showcase the beautiful/amazing Philippines,” Dayrit said.

She expects more than two million Filipinos will visit the pavilion.

A Philippine pavilion will also be a source of national pride, especially for overseas Filipinos, adds Erwin Kenneth R. Peralta, LBC Express Area manager (UAE), and also a member of the Philippine Business Council-Dubai.

He observed that as preparations for Expo 2020 are now underway, hotels and F&B outlets are opening and expanding their presence, and are hiring Filipinos to man the frontlines.

More importantly, a Philippine pavilion will steer perceptions away from negative images of the country and shine the light on the many great things that it is doing.

Building on the expo theme of Connecting Minds, Creating the Future, the Philippine pavillion can shift the focus to what truly counts—the mind, heart, and soul of the Filipino as a creative, collaborative, caring and colorful, pushing forward into the future with unrivalled ingenuity, innovation, and smart solutions.

In fact, Filipino artistry is well known even in the UAE, with topnotch fashion designers Michael Cinco, Furne One Amato, Yen AB of Yen Couture, and Ezra Santos holding fort and making waves globally, alongside international talents like Kenneth Cobonpue or local artisans whose works have been noticed by the likes of Christian Louboutin.

Expo 2020-Dubai is our opportunity to showcase the best of our people and to build up the Philippine country brand—in a region where our very own people are making a difference. Let us not let this golden opportunity go to waste.

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