With just more than two years to go until the opening of Expo 2020 Dubai, UAE officials told organisers of the world fair in Paris that construction is on track and major work would be completed a year before in October 2019.
In a speech before the general assembly of the Bureau International des Expositions on Wednesday, Najeeb Al Ali, executive director of Dubai Expo 2020 Bureau presented an update on site construction and also elaborated on the expo’s objective to reach out to future generations with creative and innovative content.
“I am pleased to inform you that our team of dedicated professionals continues to be right on track to meet our ambition of delivering a truly exceptional and impactful world expo,” he told the BIE, the organisation overseeing the world trade fair.
“There are structures that are emerging every day from a site that 18 months ago was little more than desert.
To date, we’ve completed more than 16 million working hours and the results speak for themselves. As many of you know, we’re aiming to finish all the major construction that we at Expo are responsible for with a full year to go by October 2019.”
He spoke of working with other countries to create engaging content in pavilions that would prompt visitors to make repeat visits.
“Each of our international participants will, for the first time at a world expo, have their own pavilion from which to showcase the best of their national achievements and future vision. We are at a stage now, where we want to move past the technical details of participant involvement and move on to the creation of the fun, engaging and empowering content that will make visitors want to come again and again," he said.
“And this is where many of you come in through your national pavilions and content development for the public realm. The content you create along with other experiences is what will transform our visitors into change-makers in their own right.”
The general assembly of the BIE meets twice a year. It was here that in 2013 Dubai earned 70 per cent of votes to win the rights to host the expo.
Mr Al Ali played drone footage showing ongoing infrastructure work on the 4.38 square kilometre expo site.
He said Luxembourg had already begun ground work on its spiral-shaped pavilion.
“Just recently, Luxembourg became the first of our international participants to break ground on its pavilion. Located in the Opportunity District, the beautiful spiral-shaped pavilion will showcase the country’s achievements and ambitions in the areas of innovation and sustainability.”
Youth would be at the heart of the Angola exhibition area and tourism for Seychelles, he said.
More than 170 countries have confirmed participation in the fair that has key themes of opportunity, mobility and sustainability.
He announced a plan to take a majlis series overseas and bring people together through discussion.
Explaining the history of the majlis in the UAE as a setting where people from varied backgrounds could meet and speak with their leaders to discuss issues and resolve problems, he said the World Majlis sessions would be based on current topics and taken to 20 countries.
In a recent majlis in the UAE, the expo hosted students and leaders who spoke about learning about sustainability from the example of the country’s Founding Father Sheikh Zayed.
“This is only the beginning of the World Majlis series – we plan 80 in total including during Expo 2020 – and we invite you today to join,” he said.
The list of nations for the dialogue series had not yet been firmed up and Mr Al Ali called on BIE delegates to approach the expo team if they wanted their city on the list and with ideas for discussion.
Mr Al Ali briefed the BIE on legacy plans with social programmes such as Expo Live that provided grants to organisations with creative ideas to improve the lives of people after the gates close in April 2021.
“This provides support to innovators from around the world who are making their communities better places to live in while protecting their environment,” he said.
“It’s about empowerment, one of the key drivers of World Expos.”
It is estimated that 70 per cent of the visitors will be from overseas for the expo that will run from October 2020 to April 2021.