Expo 2020: Countdown begins

By Mohammed Siddiq M., Abu Dhabi, UAE

Dubai: With only a year left to begin, the Expo 2020, that is to be hosted by Dubai with the theme, “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”, and subthemes, Opportunity, Mobility, and Sustainability, is on track with its construction in full swing. It is scheduled to commence from the 20th of October, 2020, and will go on for another 6 months from there until the 10th of April, 2021. The World Expo is a worldwide event that is held every 5 years, for 6 months, in a city voted for by 170 member nations of the Bureau International des Exposition (BIE), the intergovernmental organization that regulates and oversees World Expos. The first World Expo was held in London, in the year 1851.

First Arab nation to host World Expo

Dubai was voted as the host of the World Expo on the 27th of November, 2013, by 164 member nations of the BIE after competing against Brazil, Turkey, Russia, and Thailand to become the first Arab nation to do so. The Expo 2020 will be the first World Expo to be held in Middle East, Africa, and South Asia (MEASA). The work on the Expo 2020 began in March, 2016. It is a 7 billion Dollar project that is expected to create 2,00,000 job opportunities with 40% of them being in the travel and tourism sector.

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Having kept “Sustainability” as one of its subthemes, Dubai has ensured that it lives up to it. More than half of the electricity that will be used during the event will be generated by wholly renewable resources. Moreover, more than 90% of the materials used in permanent construction on the site will be reused or repurposed in the legacy buildings and infrastructure.  

The Expo 2020 site spans over an area of 4.38 square km and comprises of 192 country pavilions. More than 25 million visitors are expected to attend the event for whom over 1,00,000 hotel rooms have been opened. With the coming up of an event with such a massive visitors turnover, expecting an increase in flights, tourism, retail, and transportation would not be wrong. Moreover, an increase in all these aspects would invariably lead to an increase in the GDP, which would perpetually lead to stability in the economy for which Dubai has been eagerly waiting for since the 2008 recession. As per a report published by Barclays, 10.5% growth in the GDP is expected by the end of the Expo 2020.

Moreover, the Expo 2020 site will have a metro station of its own that will be capable of transporting 36,000 passengers per hour.

Last month, the final piece of the Al Wasl dome, the host of  performances from A-list global performers and other major celebrations, on key international occasions such as New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year, had been successfully lifted into place after months of planning and a complex construction plan. The dome weighs well over 550 tonnes and has a size as big as 7,24,000 cubic meters and is 67.5 meters tall, which is higher than the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The dome had to be precisely positioned on the top of the vertical trellis, with a margin of error of only 3mm.

The process of crowning the dome on top of the built structure involved more than 1 million man hours, 800 engineers in order to monitor and guide the process, and 18 hydraulic jacks for lifting the dome. The preparations for making the process a success began 14 months ago on the 26th of June, 2018, keeping in mind the fact that they had only one shot for getting it right.

Chairman of Expo Dubai 2020

Sheikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Expo Dubai 2020 Higher Committee, said: “The crowning of the Al Wasl dome is a significant landmark not just for Expo 2020 Dubai but for the whole of Dubai and the UAE. This new architectural marvel joins a long list of inspiring designs that our country has created through collaboration, sheer hard work and the unending, ambitious vision of our leadership and people. It is another example of what the nation can do when it combines all its talents to such formidable purpose.”

Ahmad Al Khatib, Chief Development and Delivery Officer, Expo 2020 Dubai, said, “It was the most exhilarating day of my entire career. We had one chance to get this right”.

Now, with the biggest construction task of the Expo 2020 accomplished, the site is expected to be complete by the end of this year.

The Expo 2020 will also coincide with the UAE’s 50th National Day, which only means that massive celebrations are on its way.

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