Press Release

Expo 2020 Dubai: a historic opportunity to foster a lasting legacy

September 8, 2021 | By Khalid Elgibali
Forbes Middle East: Op-Ed around Expo 2020 Dubai September 2021 By Khalid Elgibali, Division President – MENA, Mastercard

Forbes Middle East: Op-Ed around Expo 2020 Dubai September 2021 By Khalid Elgibali, Division President – MENA, Mastercard

As the Official Payment Technology Partner of Expo 2020 Dubai, Mastercard is leveraging the mega event as a platform to build a more inclusive and connected future. 

Our world is moving at an incredible pace, and we are constantly witnessing how new innovations are adding value, deepening connections, and expanding opportunities for societies across the globe.

At Mastercard, innovation is part of our DNA. For more than 50 years, we have been harnessing the power of technology to expand financial inclusion and the digital economy in a way that helps society-at-large thrive. Partnering with Expo 2020 Dubai as its Official Payment Technology Partner provides us with exhilarating new possibilities as the world comes together to explore, collaborate and innovate. It is an opportunity to share our vision, build a bridge to the future and transport millions of visitors to a reality that is far closer than we imagine.

The setting is important. Expo 2020 Dubai is where the game-changing technologies of tomorrow are explored and unveiled; where for six months, diverse organizations, sectors, experts, inventors, and big thinkers come together to explore new realms of possibilities. For us, it is a chance to showcase and explore the innovations defining tomorrow’s digital economy – and the sustainable growth it can unlock for future generations.

As the Official Payment Technology Partner of the world’s biggest economic and cultural milestone, we are demonstrating our vision for a connected tomorrow to millions of visitors. Inside the immersive ‘Mastercard Cube’, visitors get a first-hand glimpse of a future far beyond payment cards – one in which frictionless connections, seamless technology, user-friendly interfaces, and sustainable consumer choices merge into intuitive, next-generation payment experiences. The Mastercard Cube offers guests multi-sensory experiences as they embark on Priceless journeys tailored to their passion for sport, culinary, music and being a force for good, and demonstrates the power of technology to enable and connect them to the things that matters most.

A meaningful legacy

Expo 2020 Dubai is a unique opportunity for the public and private sector to come together, establish clear roadmaps and demonstrate their efforts to make a lasting difference: because we all have a role to play. Every entity has the opportunity to spark the imaginations of millions of people with new ways to elevate the key focus areas of opportunity, mobility and sustainability.  

Expo 2020 Dubai will explore what the future of the human race and our planet looks like. The event boasts a Sustainability District that shows how humans can enjoy harmony with nature in a high-tech future. It also hosts a Mobility District that explores new possibilities for the smarter movement of knowledge, goods, and services, and an Opportunity District that seeks to unlock the potential within all of us.

So much of our work at Mastercard revolves around these themes, and we are aiming for our legacy at this world expo to extend across societal, economic, environmental, and cultural dimensions. Beyond throwing a spotlight on emerging technologies through immersive and interactive experiences, we are there to encourage partnerships and work together to improve gender diversity, inclusion, and environmental responsibility in our world. And yes – within our corporate world too.

At the heart of our business is the ethos of “Doing Well by Doing Good”. We believe that by supporting our communities, our partners, and our planet, we are enabling a virtuous cycle that allows us to do well as a company. Our commitment to sustainability spans inclusive growth, people and culture, environmental stewardship, and ethical and responsible standards. These go right to the heart of our mission to build a more inclusive, sustainable world that works for everyone, everywhere.

Environmental responsibility will take center stage at this mega event. Few things are as important as the sustainable use of the planet’s resources and having reachable goals as we move forward. Mastercard’s Priceless Planet Coalition is spearheading change on this front, and we’re honored that Expo 2020 Dubai has joined the Coalition as a strategic partner. This global partnership initiative activates the efforts of private organizations, public institutions, and consumers to address climate change with the pledge restore 100 million trees by 2025. At the Expo 2020 Dubai site, we have built a Priceless Planet installation to bring sustainability to life and offer visitors a chance to contribute to a more sustainable future.

The economic legacy

There is of course also an economic legacy to consider. Indeed, economic sustainability is critically important in achieving so many of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), like ending poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, decent work and economic growth. The importance of small businesses is rightly highlighted at Expo 2020 Dubai, because empowered SMEs are tomorrow’s job creators and wealth generators – not to mention inventors, innovators, and entrepreneurs. They are central to the story of sustainable economics and communities.

Mastercard is making it easier, faster, and more affordable to set up a business by creating innovative products and solutions designed to unlock potential and help SMEs to scale and grow. At Expo 2020 Dubai we will be amplifying this support for businesses in the UAE and beyond, through a program of knowledge sharing, access to digital tools, mentorships, partnership programs and a deeper understanding of the value of digital payments. During the pandemic, Mastercard committed $250 million in support of SMEs all around the world, through digital tools and training – because when small and potentially vulnerable businesses survive and succeed during difficult times, we all benefit.

21st century skills for all

Unlocking economic opportunity through business success is of course only part of the story. Because there is still so much work to be done to support women and girls in all aspects of society – not just business.

A great deal of Mastercard’s strategy for inclusive growth revolves around youth, and in widening access and opportunity for participation in STEM subjects at school and as careers. Our Girls4Tech initiative, launched in 2015, inspires and prepares young girls for careers in science and technology, by introducing them to encryption, fraud detection, data analysis, digital convergence, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence.

The program prepares girls to be future leaders by equipping them with 21st-century workplace skills such as collaboration, creativity, and communication. Through the partnership between Mastercard and the Expo School Program team, have committed to reach 2,020 girls across the UAE before the conclusion of Expo 2020 Dubai, and ensured the award-winning program is available to Arabic speakers.

Further supporting Expo 2020 Dubai’s commitment to create a more equitable future, we have teamed up with the region’s largest network for women-owned businesses, Female Fusion, to unlock opportunities for women entrepreneurs and help them grow and scale their businesses and benefit from the digital economy.

Our shared legacy

Over many decades, Mastercard has pioneered technologies and driven change through its innovation and the exponential power of strategic partnerships. We invite everyone to join us in helping build a more open, inclusive, and connected world. Being a force for good and delivering positive, lasting change is an exciting prospect – and an opportunity we can all embrace.

Photo of Khalid Elgibali
Khalid Elgibali, Chief Operating Officer, EEMEA, Mastercard