Expo City Dubai promises unrivalled 'campus town feel' as it reopens to the public

Entry to most areas is free, with tickets only required to enter pavilions

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The UAE’s first fully pedestrianised neighbourhood, Expo City Dubai, opens on Thursday ― five months after the end of the spectacular world’s fair that drew millions from around the world.

Much like any Dubai neighbourhood, visitors can walk around most public spaces at Expo City Dubai for free.

But tickets will be required to gain access to the attractions.

Visitors can book tickets online or on-site for the three main attractions that will welcome guests from Thursday.

Expo enthusiasts will have a second chance to relive the magic when they board the Expo train, hop on a buggy or ride an e-bike ― these can be hired across the site.

Much awaited relaunch

Preparations are at full throttle to ensure walking paths, eating areas and ticket booths are ready. The official opening will be held in October.

Senior officials describe a sprawling space in transition being transformed into a ‘go-to destination.’

Tickets can be bought online or on site for some of the Expo’s most popular sites: Terra — The Sustainability Pavilion, Alif — The Mobility Pavilion and the towering Garden in the Sky.

Entry to the large Al Wasl projection dome and the striking Surreal waterfall will be free in October.

“The site that hosted an exceptional World Expo for six months is in transition to becoming Dubai’s newest urban destination,” Ahmed Al Khatib, chief development and delivery officer at Expo City Dubai told The National in an exclusive interview.

“For September and for the official opening, the priority is very much on ensuring the site offers a welcoming and seamless visitor experience — from setting up ticket booths and ensuring adequate and nearby parking, to putting the finishing touches on pedestrian pathways and making transport options available — all of which reinforces Expo City Dubai’s offering as a human-centric destination.”

No cars allowed

The Turkmenistan pavilion on Thursday, September 1, 2022. A number of pavilions are yet to be packed up including this one, plus Russia, Denmark and others. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Health, fitness and well-being will be at the core of the development that has 10 kilometres of cycling paths, a 5km running track and 45,000 square metres of parks and garden.

“With a low-rise campus feel, the city is fully pedestrianised, improving safety and air quality with no cars allowed within the districts,” Mr Al Khatib said.

“Presenting a smarter, more balanced, resilient, and sustainable way of life, Expo City Dubai offers the chance to live in harmony with nature, and with each other.”

Food trucks and free entry

Food trucks will offer snacks and refreshments to visitors in September and more dining options will be announced soon.

While most public areas can be entered free of cost, tickets to Terra and Alif will cost Dh50 per person per pavilion. Entry is free for children aged 12 years and under, as well as for people with disabilities.

There will be four ticket booths near the three attractions to reopen from Thursday.

People can enjoy a bird’s-eye view for Dh30 per person at the Garden in the Sky installation.

In October, the Al Wasl Plaza and Surreal water feature will reopen. These will be free of charge and on a first come, first served basis. Both venues can be hired out for private events.

The women’s and the vision pavilions, the children’s playgrounds and the carousel will also open in October.

Parking near pavilions

Visitors can take the metro and bus services to the site from Thursday.

Parking, including dedicated slots for people with special needs, will be available at Al Forsan, as well as the Jubilee, Mobility and Sustainability zones, from September onwards.

Parking zones will be in proximity to the reopened attractions and public areas so visitors will not need to wait for a shuttle bus.

Buggies, the Expo explorer train, e-scooters and e-bikes are available for hire throughout the site.

Technology and community

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The development will prioritise health, technology, business collaborations, immersive educational experiences and community interaction.

The aim is to attract multinationals, start-ups, government organisations and academia.

Several companies including Siemens, DP World have confirmed setting up office.

“As a free zone that will be a key contributor to the UAE’s wider diversification and development, we view our tenants as partners in the growth of Expo City Dubai — partners who are being carefully selected for their alignment with the values promoted throughout Expo 2020, particularly in the areas of innovation, technology, education and healthcare,” Mr Al Khatib said.

“Playing a pivotal role in the evolution of Dubai, Expo City Dubai also builds on the success of Expo 2020 Dubai as the go-to destination for globally significant events, including the much anticipated 2023 UN Climate Change Conference Cop28.”

He said people would be at the centre of the development.

“Expo City Dubai’s places an immense value and focus on community — one where people, businesses, technologies, and industries connect, collaborate, and innovate based on a deep-rooted belief that a broad coalition of people, working together, can propel human progress to help create a more sustainable and dignified future for all,” he said.

“A rich cultural and entertainment programme will also carry the spirit of our unforgettable World Expo, celebrating human innovation, imagination and ingenuity.”

Attention will also be paid to children and youths, with the return of the Expo School programme and other activities scheduled.

Updated: September 08, 2022, 5:53 AM