Work on Expo 2020 Dubai site to be completed by end of the year

Construction has continued during the slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic

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Expo Dubai organisers said they intend to complete projects on site by the end of the year.

Construction work on the site has continued with several countries close to complete their pavilions despite the slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

"Work continues and we are pursuing our original deadlines. We are looking to close any open projects by the end of the year and secure the site until (the) opening," Ahmed Al Khatib, chief development and delivery officer, Expo 2020 Dubai told The National.

“We have already reached a number of significant milestones, including the recent softscaping of the grounds and landscaping of expo’s parks, while the exhibitions have been installed at the completed sustainability and mobility pavilions.”

He said 192 countries remain committed to participating in the expo when it opens in October next year.

“Along with our contractors, we continue to work side by side with our international participants and official partners to support them in delivering their pavilions in these unprecedented times.”

We are looking to close any open projects by the end of the year and secure the site until (the) opening

Workers wear masks and are carried in buses that run at 50 per cent capacity, the site is sanitised and has remained operational by following UAE safety guidelines.

Mr Al Khatib said on-site medical check-ups and care for vulnerable workers was provided.

“Organisation-wide, we have intensified all sanitisation procedures and cleanliness guidelines across the site,” he said.

Health and safety teams worked with contractors to review preventive measures and manage the risks of Covid-19.

“The health, safety and wellbeing of everyone working at Expo 2020 is our number one priority and we have introduced a number of precautionary measures in line with guidance from the Ministry of Health and Prevention and Dubai Health Authority and the latest information and advice from the World Health Organisation.”

Officials said “difficult” decisions were taken after the postponement leading to staff layoffs.

"Very sadly, a number of expo employees will be leaving us. Of course, the decision was very difficult taken in (the) context of the postponement and it's difficult because they're members of the tribe," Manal AlBayat, chief engagement officer told AFP without specifying how many jobs were lost.

She said the organisation had to deal with some cases of coronavirus among workers and expo staff.

“We ensure that if anyone has tested positive they do not come back until they have tested negative and have been approved by the health authorities to come back to work regardless of whether they are workers or expo employees,” she told the news agency.

The world fair's governing body in May approved plans for the emirate to host the event from October 1, 2021, until March 31, 2022, with the occasion to retain its Expo 2020 title.

The decision was confirmed after two thirds of Bureau International des Expositions member states voted in favour of the delay in light of the challenges posed to the international community by the Covid-19 outbreak.