Dubai Expo 2020 legacy: Site a natural fit for 2040 Urban Master Plan, says delivery chief

More than 85 per cent of site will become part of District 2020

Related: Expo 2020 Dubai pavilions begin mass recruitment - here's our guide to jobs and salaries

District 2020, the name by which the Dubai Expo 2020 site will be known after the event, will become a vibrant community for tourists and residents, according to a senior Expo 2020 official.

The Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan is an outline of how and where the emirate will grow over the next 20 years.

The ambitious vision, seen by some as key to the emirate's evolution into a mature global city, divides Dubai into five key areas of development.

The Expo 2020 site, currently preparing for the start of the six-month event in October, is one of the five areas and is set to become the city’s international gateway for exhibitions and events.

More than 85 per cent of what we are building is actually staying

"If you look at the Dubai 2040 master plan and what it calls for, it actually describes a lot of what Expo has been doing," Ahmed Al Khatib, chief development and delivery officer, Expo 2020 Dubai, told The National.

“Expo 2020 master plan, whether it is the event plan or District 2020 – which of course [is] its legacy – it's a natural fit of the 2040 Dubai master plan."

When Expo 2020 closes its doors to the public in March 2022, work will begin on transforming the site based on the original plan, when it was first designed.

Mr Al Khatib said that more than 85 per cent of the site, more than than the previously announced 80 per cent, will remain and the transformation phase – which will last nine months to a year – will convert the event space into an area for residents and businesses.

Ahmed Al Khatib, (Senior VP, Expo 2020 Dubai) ,
Leaders in Construction UAE , Godolphin Ballroom, Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Financial Centre 2 ,
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 19/09/2017
Photo by Fritz John Asuro/ITP Images

"Since day one, we actually planned everything for legacy. Nothing that Expo has built will be removed, except for the overlay components that you have to build to manage the event itself, like the arrival plazas and the security gates," Mr Al Khatib said.

“More than 85 per cent of what we are building is actually staying. The entire transition phase will be retrofitting the Expo 2020 event area to more of an urban city.”

The country pavilions, which are constructed and paid for by each participant, must be shipped back to their home countries, per the regulations of Bureau International des Expositions, the expo organisers.

According to the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan, District 2020 is expected to become an economic and growth hot spot. Featuring affordable housing, it will also be a focal point for the exhibitions, tourism and logistics sectors.

Mr Al Khatib said the Mobility, Sustainability and Opportunity Pavilions, plus two parks and a water feature, will add to Dubai's tourist attractions.

“This will remain a very strong pillar and a strong tourist attraction like for all the travellers from all over the world,” he said.

The exhibition centre will be the future location of Dubai World Trade Centre’s halls.

"We kept the flexibility or expansion for future needs – it is expandable and can accommodate all the future needs, we believe," Mr Al Khatib said.

"It was designed extremely well – it's a world-class venue that caters for all the needs ... for the exhibition industry."

He said the affordable housing is already in the Dubai South locality, while there will be apartments available in Expo Village, which is developed by the Dubai World Trade Centre.

Expo preparations

Preparations for the event are “progressing very well”, with almost everything completed ahead of the opening date on October 1.

Dubai residents got a taste of what is to come when the Sustainability Pavilion opened to the public. It closes on Saturday and Mr Al Khatib confirmed there are no plans to open another pavilion before the big opening.

“The summer is starting and we need to have more focus on the preparation of the site and cleaning the site,” he said.

New Zealand announced its plans to use the event to relaunch itself on the world stage. Mr Al Khatib said he expects other countries to follow.

"This is an event that everybody has been waiting for and it is an event that will be an opportunity for all the countries to use to restart their economies," Mr Al Khatib said.

“Everybody will be looking at all the opportunities that this event will have, over a six-month period, to restart their economy, whether it's on the local level, or regional or international level, because this event will, of course, host the entire world.”

Covid-19 forced organisers to postpone the event for 12 months.

Mr Al Khatib is hopeful that after the vaccine programmes and positive responses to international travel, Dubai Expo 2020 will still attract a large number of visitors.

"We are very optimistic that, with vaccination and increased awareness of the entire world of how to deal with Covid, that people will continue to come to this event," he said.

"It's not an entertainment event, it's a platform for so many opportunities [from which] the world can benefit."