x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Dh4 billion to be spent on Dubai parks ahead of Expo 2020

Work on a crocodile park and a safari park, a huge scale model of the city, traditional fish market, wetlands museum and a butterfly garden is under way to help attract more tourists to Dubai and the UAE.

A model of the proposed Expo 2020 site displayed during the Destination Dubai event. Christopher Pike / The National
A model of the proposed Expo 2020 site displayed during the Destination Dubai event. Christopher Pike / The National

DUBAI // A crocodile park, safari park, models of world monuments, traditional fish market, wetlands museum and butterfly garden are part of a Dh4 billion programme of works as the city prepares for Expo 2020.

“Construction is 50 per cent on some projects and some are in the detailed design stage,” said Abdullah Rafie, assistant general director of planning and engineering at the municipality.

“The projects are budget approved. We expect them to be ready ahead of 2020.”

Mr Rafie was speaking at Tuesday’s opening of the Destination Dubai 2020 conference.

About Dh2bn will be spent on projects this year, with the same amount allocated for next year, he said.

The two-day conference will highlight business opportunities to help local and regional companies visualise the emirate’s plans.

They include a crocodile park on Dubai’s outskirts, a fish market and re-creations of traditional souqs in Deira, and a zoo and safari park covering 119 hectares, which will take visitors through a journey of Africa, Arabia and Asia.

The three-storey Dubai Wetland centre will include a museum and visitors’ centre.

It will be built at the far end of Dubai Creek near the Ras Al Khor flamingo sanctuary.

“The miniature park we plan to build in Dubai will be the world’s largest and include Dubai icons like the Burj Khalifa and the Burj Al Arab,” Mr Rafie said.

“There are 40 miniature parks in the world, but this will have the largest collection.

“We will also build a Palm Park with 5,000 species of palms, some fruit-bearing, and this will be an educational botanical area.”

Dubai Creek is set to figure in Unesco’s world heritage list after an evaluation of the site’s 150-year trading ties.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Library, designed in the shape of a book, will be built on the Creek.

A large artificial lake will be created in Al Barsha, around which will be built a boat and fishing equipment market. This is in the design phase.

Transport links were outlined by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).

They included an extension of the metro’s Red Line to the Expo 2020 site at Dubai World Central, the connection of Etihad Rail to Jebel Ali by 2017, and an extension of the metro’s Green Line.

The works were detailed in a presentation by Mohammed Al Hashimi, RTA director of planning and business development.

The RTA has plans for an extra 421km of metro and tram network with 197 stations, to add to the current 75km of lines and 47 stations.

The existing 100km cycling track will stretch to 850km by 2020, while the tram network will cover 10.6km with 11 stations that will connect to the metro at two stations.

The 21km Green Line extension will run from Al Jaddaf through Ras Al Khor to Academic City, while a 8km to 15km Red Line extension will cover between two and four stations to the Expo 2020 site.

“This is part of our attempt to move people from cars to public transport,” Mr Al Hashimi said.

“Our strategic goal is for transport integration with Dubai’s economic growth. We want the integrated transport plan to be people-friendly and preserve Dubai’s heritage.”

Dubai’s 2020 bid dossier estimated that hosting the Expo 2020 will cost US$8.7bn (Dh31.95bn), with $7bn in investments and the rest operating expenses.

Dubai last year won the bid to host the world fair from October 2020 to April 2021.

The expo is expected to draw more than 25 million visitors.

rtalwar@thenational.ae