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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Dubai wants aviation research hub at Expo 2020 legacy site

Plan is to encourage plane manufacturers to set up R&D centres at District 2020

Tahnoon Saif, Vice President Aviation of Dubai South, says the recently unveiled masterplan for the Expo legacy community ‘District 2020’ will provide space for aviation research & development operations. Antonie Robertson/The National
Tahnoon Saif, Vice President Aviation of Dubai South, says the recently unveiled masterplan for the Expo legacy community ‘District 2020’ will provide space for aviation research & development operations. Antonie Robertson/The National

The legacy development of Expo 2020 Dubai will provide opportunities for aircraft manufacturers and others to set up research operations on site once the mega-event concludes, according to a Dubai South official.

The recently unveiled master-plan for the Expo legacy community ‘District 2020’ would provide space for aviation research & development (R&D) operations, said Tahnoon Saif, vice-president of aviation at Dubai South, the mixed-use free zone being developed around Al Maktoum International Airport

“We will have a designated area post-2020 there for us – that has been taken into consideration,” Mr Saif told The National.

Mr Saif heads up Dubai South Aviation District, a 7 square kilometre zone within the 145 sq km Dubai South free zone, that also houses Al Maktoum International, a VIP passenger terminal for private jet operators, residential zone, business park, logistics and cargo district, and the Expo 2020 exhibition site.

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Expo organisers in September unveiled a masterplan for a 2 million square foot mixed-use community called District 2020 – a new addition to Dubai South. Among the components of the plan are ‘innovation clusters’ to house research institutes, science labs and corporate R&D operations.

With Mr Saif’s team working to attract aircraft manufacturers such as Boeing and others in the aviation supply chain to the aviation district, his vision is that some of those operators may also choose to set up R&D facilities at District 2020.

“It will feed into our plans to support aviation education and supply chain initiatives, with laboratories and so on. We are building a platform where innovation centres can grow and support job creation,” he said.

The six-month Expo itself will provide a boost to the district’s VIP operations. “Many of the visitors will be high-profile guests with private jet requirements,” Mr Saif said.