A dome that will become the world’s largest 360-degree projection surface, pavilions to represent more than 190 countries and a metro station to bring millions of people to its doors. This is Expo 2020 Dubai.
On Tuesday, The National was allowed its first close-up glimpse into the hectic construction work that is quickly bringing the 4.38 sq kilometre site to life.
With just a year to go until the grand opening, structures that were previously skeletons have become easily identifiable as the unique buildings take shape.
At the heart of the site, workers concentrated on fitting special screens to the giant trellis dome that will house Al Wasl Plaza.
When the expo begins, images will be beamed on to the shell that, at night, will be visible from across the site.
Engineers and technicians supervised as steel ropes carefully lifted construction material across high columns and on to the curved steel crown.
Al Wasl — which translates to 'connection' from Arabic — is the centrepiece of the Expo with its steel dome, weighing 830 tonnes, spanning an area the size of 16 tennis courts.
At 67.5 metres in height, the plaza is almost wide enough to fit two Airbus A380s and will host the Expo’s opening and closing ceremonies.
Dozens of low-rise buildings, that will house restaurants and retail outlets, have been built on the petal-shaped frame that leads from Al Wasl Plaza to the Sustainability Pavilion — one of three expo theme sites that also include 'mobility' and 'opportunity'.
On Tuesday, workers stood on metal scaffolding beneath the canopy of the disc-shaped Sustainability Pavilion, that will be plated with 1,055 solar panels.
The photovoltaic panels will draw energy from the sun to generate electricity during the day and capture moisture from the air at night.
Named Terra, Latin for earth, the pavilion will remain after the expo ends, in April 2021, as a children and science centre. The repurposed expo site will be renamed District 2020 and feature research and retail spaces.
Across the way, workers atop cranes were seen scattered across the stark white UAE pavilion, designed to resemble the feathered wings of a falcon, the UAE's national bird.
The expo’s largest pavilion, spanning across 15,000 sq metres, will be fitted with massive moving hydraulic wings.
Construction is also under way on the Mobility Pavilion which, with its ribbed and curved exterior, resembles a mega fidget spinner.
Spread over six floors, the pavilion will also house the world’s largest lift.
Around 32,000 people are working on site, officials have said they are on track to deliver all permanent expo-led construction by the year-end.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, expressed satisfaction with the construction during a site visit in August.
“We are ready and remain true to our promise of presenting the best Expo edition yet in its 168-year-old history,” he wrote on Twitter.