x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 25 November 2017

Dubai’s Expo 2020 competitors

Whichever city wins tonight at the Expo 2020 vote it will be an historic first for the World Expo. Take a look at three other competitors squaring off with Dubai's impressive bid.

Dubai is seeking to host the World Expo 2020 under the theme 'Connecting Minds, Creating the Future', becoming the first city in the middle east to host the global event. EPA/Ali Haider
Dubai is seeking to host the World Expo 2020 under the theme 'Connecting Minds, Creating the Future', becoming the first city in the middle east to host the global event. EPA/Ali Haider

Whichever city wins tonight, it will be an historic first for the World Expo.

If Dubai is successful it will be the first world fair in the Middle East. The same holds true for Izmir.

It would also be the first world fair for Russia if Yekaterinburg is selected, and the first in South America if Sao Paulo is chosen.

Dubai – whose theme is Connecting Minds, Creating the Future – is competing against Turkey’s universal health campaign, Brazil’s diversity and harmony projects, and Russia’s globalisation pitch.

Since its inception in London in 1851, more than a billion people have visited a world fair. The last one, Expo 2012, was held in Yeosu, South Korea.

Here are the competing candidates and their themes:

Dubai, UAE

Theme: Connecting Minds, Creating the Future

Dubai’s project is aiming to find solutions to three global issues – mobility, sustainability and opportunity.

The Expo Live programme is an important part of the bid. The initiative aims to find and fund innovative projects, such as clean drinking water and solar-powered lights, in needy communities worldwide.

The initiative will connect innovators with experts and the projects will be presented during the expo in pavilions dedicated to innovation.

Expo 2020 would also coincide with the 50th anniversary of the formation of the UAE.

The bid has a target of 25 million visitors and will build Dubai and the UAE’s status as a world hub.

The expo site would be converted into the Dubai Trade Centre Jebel Ali. The main site would be across 438 hectares, next to the new Al Maktoum International Airport.

The site would be divided into three areas dedicated to each sub theme and these zones would lead to Al Wasl, the main plaza.

Countries can set up their pavilion in areas that correspond to their development strategy. Sustainability is at the heart of the project, so the site will include solar panels to generate electricity in the building facade and for street lighting, and to recycle waste water. There will be extensive use of public transport.

Local plants will be part of the landscape design and treated sewage effluent will be used for district cooling and irrigation. The site will be largely car-free with bus and Metro connectivity along with a cable car to transport visitors within the site. After the fair, the expo site will be reused for research centres and a university.

Sao Paulo, Brazil

Theme: Power of Diversity, Harmony for Growth

Brazil is already hosting the World Cup next year and the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 .

The city’s economic and cultural strength prompted the idea for its theme, which aims to show how diversity can be used to foster development. It will focus on diversity of thought, culture, skill and enable innovation.

The project notes that since diversity could also lead to conflict and discrimination, the bid will also address these issues by examining public policies, the importance of cross-cultural dialogue and the idea of prosperity.

A 500-hectare site chosen for Expo 2020 is in the region of Pirituba, in the north-east of Sao Paulo.

The area – covered by rainforest, lakes and rivers – aims to welcome 30 million visitors. The open areas are designed as public parks so visitors can walk from pavilions into nature. Sustainability is part of the project, which will include waste-limitation initiatives.

The highly populated region of Pirituba is not well connected to the centre of Sao Paulo and lacks job opportunities. The expo would boost plans to create a hub for business, tourism and education with research and learning centres and new housing areas. It would also help projects such as the creation of a new metro line connecting Pirituba to the city centre and the building of Sao Paulo’s biggest conference centre.

Yekaterinburg, Russia

Theme: The Global Mind

Yekaterinburg is aiming to connect ideas and projects from across the world to achieve sustainable globalisation. The city is attempting to answer a worldwide question – what can we do to make sure globalisation benefits everyone?

A world fair focused on this subject will allow all countries to showcase their best practices in varied fields. As part of Yekaterinburg’s bid, a group of students from the city are travelling around the world to bring connectivity to remote areas.

The team has introduced children in Mongolia, Indonesia, Panama, Namibia, Kenya and Sri Lanka to advanced technologies and helped equip their schools with internet access.

Yekaterinburg’s proposed 500-hectare site, 5km from the city centre, aims to cater to 12 million visitors.

Part of the site will be dedicated to the expo, while the remaining area will include housing, commercial centres and leisure space along with parks and car parks.

A world fair would help improve the city’s transportation, infrastructure and logistical resources.

Since the economic and tourist focus is on Russia’s western regions and in cities such as Moscow and Saint Petersburg, the Expo 2020 bid aims to develop the Ural region and transform it into an international hub for innovation and technology.

Izmir, Turkey

Theme: New Routes to a Better World/Health for All

At the heart of Turkey’s bid is the belief that health is at the centre of development and human progress because a healthy population can work, think and communicate better than a population weakened by illness.

Izmir’s bid conceives health as a basic human right that must be promoted through international cooperation and public policies.

The city has identified four challenges to be tackled during the expo, including education and public health, innovation, care and collaboration, and healthy living.

The bid committee has partnered with a rural health project developed by Elon University in North Carolina to create a new health training facility in Jamkhed, one of India’s poorest regions.

The site is planning to focus on universal health since Izmir portrays itself as the birthplace of western medicine.

Turkey hopes to boost its international role in the health sector by creating a global health hub in Izmir. The expo aims to welcome 39 million visitors to a 600-hectare site. After the expo, a large part of this would be dedicated to health campuses, universities, research centres, hospitals and rehabilitation facilities.

The site would be around a natural lagoon that is home to birds, including flamingos. At the centre would be a road to be used as a main boulevard connecting all areas. The project aims to improve quality of life by focusing on sustainability and ecology through the production of solar and geothermal energy to handle requirements on site.

RTalwar@thenational.ae