x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Winning Expo 2020 will accelerate Dh5 billion Dubai Metro extension

Expo 2020 bid: The head of the RTA reveals that if Dubai's expo bid is successful, construction on extending the Metro Red Line will speed up.

If the Dubai Expo 2020 bid wins, construction on the Metro will speed up, the head of the RTA says. Jeff Topping / The National
If the Dubai Expo 2020 bid wins, construction on the Metro will speed up, the head of the RTA says. Jeff Topping / The National

PARIS // A Dh5 billion extension to the Dubai Metro's Red Line will be sped up if the emirate's bid to host Expo 2020 is successful, the head of the Roads and Transport Authority says.

The authority's transport master plan includes a new stretch of line running from the existing terminus at Jebel Ali to Al Maktoum International Airport, which is next to the proposed expo site.

"The Red Line extension will go ahead," said Mattar Al Tayer, chairman of the RTA and a member of the Higher Committee for Hosting the 2020 World Expo.

"But if we win the expo we'll need it quickly. We'll need to start it as it will take three to four years to build. We'll build it anyway but winning the expo will speed it up."

Mr Al Tayer said the extension would be the only major transport investment required for the expo, even though it is forecast that 70 per cent of the estimated 25 million visitors will use public transport to reach the site.

"All we need is a small change," he said. "We don't need major change because the infrastructure is ready or almost ready. We may need to increase the number of buses, maybe by 300."

Passengers would be able to board buses at temporary stations across the city for the event.

Helal Al Marri, director general of Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing, and also a committee member, said a Dubai expo would be an apt way to show the world what the country has achieved in 50 years.

"The whole world will be there for the Golden Jubilee to witness what the UAE has achieved over the years," Mr Al Marri said.

Mr Al Tayer, Mr Al Marri and the other committee members were in Paris on Wednesday to see Princess Haya bint Al Hussein give a memorable presentation for Dubai's bid.

The wife of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, addressed the general assembly of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), which oversees World Expos. Sheikh Mohammed was in the audience.

The other three surviving candidates – Sao Paulo in Brazil, Yekaterinburg in Russia and Izmir in Turkey – also presented their plans.

BIE member states will vote to choose the winner in November. Detailed plans have been submitted and cannot now be altered.

Princess Haya announced an initiative called Expo Live, aimed at solving major global problems, and a €100 million (Dh489.6m) Expo Partnership Fund to support innovation.

Mr Al Tayer said the emphasis on innovation would give Dubai an advantage over the other cities.

"Innovation is an important part of our bid," he said. "It is very smart as the other competitors cannot launch any similar initiatives because the bids are already finished, and I think this distinguished our offering.

"Innovation nowadays is an important topic that everyone is talking about – innovation and solving problems.

"There are good things in the other bids but what we have is special, a little bit different, and I think it is stronger. We feel confident that we will do a great job.

"It's really something we will be proud of and the people who vote for us will be proud of. We won't let them down."

"Dubai is already the seventh-most visited city by international tourists in the world," Mr Al Marri said.

"We already have over 10 million tourists annually and our target for 2020, regardless of the expo, is 20 million international visitors. So Dubai is already on the map.

"The expo bid is a combination of what Dubai has to offer as an event hub, as a tourist destination, as a tourist hub. Dubai Expo 2020 would bring the world together and showcase not just Dubai, but the UAE and the whole region.

"So we think the expo will have an everlasting effect on the UAE and whole region. It will change forever the way Dubai and the region are perceived. It's a way for the region to showcase itself."

Mr Al Marri said the expo would provide an impressive start to the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the UAE's formation.

The committee must now wait for the vote in November.

"The bid is a private ballot and it's a vote between 166 countries," added Mr Al Marri. "Each country will weigh the merits of each bid and will make its decision, but I'm confident that if it's based on merit alone ours is by far the best."

Vicente Gonzalez Loscertales, secretary general of the BIE, said: "The Dubai bid as a whole is very, very strong.

"We will see what member states think in November, but I am convinced that it is one of the top bids."

csimpson@thenational.ae