x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

UAE hopes Expo 2020 will leave behind a strong legacy

If Dubai secures the international fair, a 438-hectare parcel of land in Jebel Ali will be redeveloped as a university, museum and conference facility.

DUBAI // “Legacy” is one of the key words the Expo 2020 bid team hopes to drive home when the inspection team visits this week.

If Dubai secures the international fair, a 438-hectare parcel of land in Jebel Ali will be redeveloped as a university, museum and conference facility.

“The opportunity for the university to focus on and draw from the experience of the expo and focus on some of the pressing issues that will be identified by the expo is huge,” said Peter Vine, the project co-ordinator for the UAE’s pavilions at previous expos.

“A top quality international university of the scale and with the facilities planned will serve the UAE and the region. It’s a visionary idea and it will be a very strong legacy.”

The university would form the core of a new “institute zone” and would include research centres.

A national museum would tell the story of the UAE’s evolution and commemorate the first world fair to be held in the Arab world.

After the event, the facility would be further developed as a state-of-the-art exhibition and convention centre – the first phase of which would be the indoor entertainment venue to be built for Expo 2020.

“Throughout the development process, we have sought to ensure that the site will serve as a permanent attraction beyond 2020 and will enhance further the UAE’s long-term appeal as a premier destination for high-profile global events,” said Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State and managing director of the Higher Committee for Hosting the 2020 World Expo.

Speaking in December at the unveiling of the site plans, she said the site chosen was one of the largest ever earmarked for an expo world fair.

Helal Saeed Al Marri, chief executive of Dubai World Trade Centre and a member of the higher committee, also said at the time that legacy planning would be deployed from the earliest stages of preparations.

“Every element of the master plan has been designed with due consideration to its afterlife and with a defined strategy for reuse, striking a balance between long-term requirements for the city as well as the six months of expo operations,” said Mr Al Marri.

The site is next to the new Al Maktoum International Airport, an equal distance between Dubai International Airport and Abu Dhabi International Airport.

“The site is superb,” said Mr Vine. “For me it is vital that it is close to an airport and is between the UAE’s two major airports. The demographic of visitors to this expo was always going to be defined by air travel.

“By 2020 Dubai International will be the busiest airport in the world in terms of passenger throughput, and all you’ve got to do is persuade these people to spend a couple of days in the UAE as a result of the expo and there’s a spin-off for the UAE.

“It’s not as if we’re trying to attract more people, they’re already coming through Dubai and Abu Dhabi.”

Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airline, a premier partner of the bid, said: “An expo needs to be in a city that is connected, and is geographically well positioned. Dubai is both. We’ll be serving most of the world’s cities in time for Expo 2020, opening the opportunity to make the Dubai Expo 2020 the most international yet.”

That international appeal will feed the bid committee’s desire to foster “collaborative thought leadership between academia, corporations and entrepreneurs” allowing scope – as the bid slogan puts it – for Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.

csimpson@thenational.ae