Construction Work Begins on Expo 2020 Site

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Construction work is about to begin on Dubai’s Expo 2020 site, after the initial phase of the original Master Plan has been completed, officials said last week. The Expo Preparatory Committee announced the appointment of a consortium, made up by two companies, which will handle the mandatory Registration Phase.

The expansive Expo 2020 site will be 438 hectares, located in Jebel Ali and will feature a main, gated facility across 150 hectares, plus surrounding residential, hospitality and logistics zones. Last week, the Dubai Expo 2020 Office announced two companies, which have been involved with the project since its very beginning, will be in charge of the design and planning work of the next phase. HOK, the largest US-based architecture and engineering firm, and Arup, a global company of consulting engineers, headquartered in London, will be on contract until November 2015. By this time, all requirements for the Registration Phase should be completed and approved by the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE), the governing body of the World Expo.

According to the official statement, the consortium will be involved in the development of buildings, pavilions, as well as in the urban design. It will see that the Master Plan meets engineering guidelines and will be responsible for all spatial planning, public realm and landscaping, graphics and way-finding signage. Other tasks will be event operations, facilities management, as well as overlay. The HOK-Arup partnership will also be involved in the transportation and pedestrian modeling, and assessment related to infrastructure, utilities, logistics, security, as well as environmental practices.

The World Expo 2020 site will need to be in line with the wider Dubai infrastructure and the Smart City plan, which is set for completion by 2020, according to Shaikh Mohammed’s Dubai Vision 2020. After November 2015, fine construction will commence on the Expo site and by October 2019, when work is finished, the site will accommodate up to 300,000 visitors. Dubai will invest $8 to $8.8 billion for development of the site and surrounding infrastructure and facilities for the event, which is believed to attract 25 million visitors to the emirate over its 6-month period, 70% of which will be foreigners.

Despite the massive investment, the Expo is expected to contribute extensively to the city’s and the region’s economy. Last year, the Bank of America Merrill Lynch predicted it could generate a boost to Dubai’s economy, totaling $23 billion. All industries will be impacted by the Expo, but the largest growth is expected in the construction sector, the tourism and hospitality sectors, and in the services. Between 250,000 and 300,000 new jobs will be created, mainly in these industries. Experts also predict the event will add 1.5% to Dubai’s GDP annually until 2020 due to the increased development.

Among the new projects, driven by winning the Expo bid, is the latest plan for 10 new towers, which was announced by local real estate development company Buroj Property Development. The firm’s CEO said Buroj is investing AED 700 million in four serviced apartment buildings this year, while another six are in plan for 2015. These four towers, which will comprise of more than 450 living units, will be located in International City, Dubai World Central and Jumeirah Village Circle.

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