Aida Al Busaidy, Director of C2C Campaigns at Dubai Tourism and one of the UAE’s thought-leaders and tastemakers, gives us a different insider perspective on how Expo 2020 Dubai is more than an event but a reflection of the city’s resilience and belief in the human spirit. Poised to welcome visitors from all corners of the globe, we explore how this temporary event can make lasting impacts in the hearts of all key stakeholders that are a part of and will be there to participate in the world’s greatest show.
Aida’s extensive experience in the field of marketing and public relations has paved her way to hold that important role within the government of Dubai and play an important role in the preparation for the Dubai Expo. From a tourism perspective, Aida gave us a view about what Expo will change for Dubai and how awarding Dubai this event has changed the last couple of years of her life.
Walk us through what happened and what you felt the day you found out that Expo 2020 was awarded to Dubai?
I think most of us remember where we were when the bid was won by Dubai to host EXPO. I recall I was driving back from Abu Dhabi back to Dubai on Sheikh Zayed Road and listening to the radio as I tuned in with nervous excitement. I knew and always do know that when we as Dubai set out a goal to achieve something, the answer is always – YES WE CAN so there was no doubt in my mind and everyone else’s that the efforts of our leadership, the hard work behind the team and the love of the people of this land would definitely come through.
Fast forward to after winning the bid, Dubai and the UAE has since embarked on making sure that it is EXPO ready from the infrastructure to the people, to the projects and just like how we have previously welcomed millions of visitors to Dubai and hosted several mega events – the build up of all our previous successes and being the gatekeeper of the east and the west housing 200 nationalities meant there is only one city that could make this the greatest EXPO.
Of course the pandemic did pause and redirect a lot of things including mega events however it also allowed us to learn and create better systems and procedures in place – in fact if anything Dubai is known as one of the most safest and secure cities in the world and it helped solidifying that notion even further. With everything the UAE has done and continues to do during the pandemic – the world is flocking to visit or move here so if anything our agile response and systematic approach to a world crisis has been hailed by many as being exemplary.
In your opinion, what is the best marketing tool Dubai has?
Dubai has 3 main strengths in my opinion and this is reflected in its citizens and residents. Agility – so the speed at which we create converts an idea or a mission into a goal or an action. Dubai is flexible and malleable so we don’t have just one way of doing something and challenges are what makes us stronger and also creative in how we tackle things and as humans, I believe we have embodied that trait of Dubai.
And finally in the famous words of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum – “Why not?” Having this can-do attitude as a city and as people really impacts the positive outlook and makes us trail blazers in our fields, as people and builds the drive to take on bigger and better prospects.
From a tourism perspective, what would be the long-term impact of Expo 2020 on Dubai after the Expo?
Dubai has always been ahead of its game when it comes to tourism. Think about it – over 200 nationalities residing here which means you are already a hub for millions of people who have family or friends they want to visit. This is reflected in the cuisines and activities and adds to the Emirati culture and heritage – visitors literally get the best of the whole world in our amazing city.
EXPOs in general always leave a lasting economic, social and positive impact in any city that hosts it so the impact to tourism, to knowledge creation and sharing, ideas and concepts will only get better. Dubai has always been the city to take on a challenge, learn and grow and with EXPO will come a new era that focuses on 3 main themes but also connecting minds and building more bridges to growth and prosperity.
The UAE is always a step ahead of everyone else. In the tourism sector, can you tell us what can we expect in the future – what would be the major differences from how it looks like today?
Tourism is a fluid sector – how we travelled 10 or 20 years ago is not like how we will travel in the future – people are looking for unique ways to travel, unique things to see and do, and unique experiences to try so that they can tell a story.
How we explore our next destination, how we build our next itinerary, who we travel with at what stage in our lives is always changing – what you can be sure of is that the UAE already knows and understands this so we will be ready for the next stage of travel – the people who will be interested in future travel and those who love Dubai and the UAE – will always have a sense of home familiarity here along with something new to see and do. As a young nation about to turn 50 – we are just scratching the surface so definitely expect bigger and better things to unfold.
Apart from Dubai – what is your favourite tourist destination and why?
To be honest – there is no city like Dubai and I have yet to discover so much more of the UAE. But outside of the UAE, Italy and every city in it is magical as well as the food, the language and the people. I am drawn to old cities and old cultures and love exploring museums and walking the streets and talking to the locals
Tell us – what does Aida enjoy doing in her free time?
Sleep and watch Netflix shows! (laughs). Well I don’t like having free time – I feel you should manage your time to reflect on things that you like so I run my business in my free time, and I read a lot and spend ample time with my family and kids; I’m an avid paddle tennis player and play in matches and tournaments as well.
Aside from work, what other hats do you need to wear and how do you manage to perform all your other roles?
So I sit on the board of a mentorship program called e7 – banat al emarat focused on social and professional well-being and mentorship of young girls across the country; I also run my own consultancy business, and I work as an MC on the side if the projects are right.
What would you consider your greatest achievement?
My children – I always say that if I can leave my mark in the world – that I have passed my knowledge, my strength and compassion needs to be shared to those who can benefit. I also have a young team and I want them to grow and flourish – for me, people and especially my people (like my mini humans) and how you contribute to their lives and their growth is my biggest achievement.
Victor magazine has been established to share with its audience success stories in Dubai and the UAE and to ignite action. and positive changes in their lives. What would be your special message to our readers?
The only glass ceiling we each have is ourselves – many times we complain about the time or situation or people hindering our goals and successes, I truly believe the first step is overcoming our own fears of what we cannot do – switching that mindset into what can I do for me, today, at this time in this situation. Also don’t be afraid or shy away from asking for help – thinking that we can do it alone is not the right mindset. I always say it is like a box of pizza – some slides are bigger, some have more toppings and some days I’m more employee, other days more boss, other days is more me time and most of the days I am more mom, daughter, wife and so on. Timeboxing and prioritizing where you should or need to be is key and be kind to yourself.