Masterplan for Expo site to be ready by third quarter 2015

Dubai’s intention is to attain critical project milestones a full year in advance

Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/ Gulf News
Delegates during day 2 at the MEED Destination Dubai 2020, detailing the very latest investment and development opportunities attached to the Emirate delivering Expo 2020
Gulf News

Dubai: The masterplan for the Dubai World Expo 2020 site will be submitted to the Paris-headquartered organising body by the third quarter of 2015, following which full mobilisation of construction will start. Once full-scale project works start, Dubai’s target will be to reach all key milestones a “full year before the intended date”, according to a top official.

“Third quarter of 2015 is the latest date for registering the masterplan with the Bureau International des Expositions,” said Chris Scott, director of investment and development management at Dubai World Trade Centre, which will be overseeing the development at the Expo site. “All of the finer details regarding the masterplan need to be finalised well before that to give us as much time as possible to test it out.”

Those elements are already at an advanced stage of planning, with the design theme closely integrated into the traditional Arab souq. The Dubai Expo 2020 will be held over a six-month stretch from October. “Construction will start after the masterplan submission and validation, but the work on the Metro link may come about sooner,” Scott said.

While the ongoing real estate and infrastructure projects in the city are already keeping contractors busy, the launch of full-blown development activity at the Expo site will take it to a whole new level altogether.

The investments are going to be substantial — infrastructure works within the city will account for an estimated Dh12.54 billion, according to official data, while capital expenditure on the actual “Expo area” will total Dh8.24 billion and spending on the surrounding areas another Dh5.24 billion. A mall is a part of the masterplan’s features.

The infrastructure and support services are being prepared estimating that the Expo could draw an average of 300,000 visitors daily to the site.

“The masterplan will be validated next year to be followed by design and construction with an expected completion date is in 2019, a year ahead of the Expo event,” said Christopher Seymour, partner and head of property — UAE at the specialist consultancy EC Harris.

Of the 438 hectares, 138 hectares will be used up for Expo-related infrastructure and allied needs. But the project promoters make a point of creating something that will go well beyond April 2021, when the Expo 2020 closes. The focus is very much on a “sustainable legacy”.

“There will be very few permanent buildings built as part of the Expo 2020 … the idea is not to create white elephants,” Scott said. “The site will be used for a national museum once the event is over.”

According to Seymour, the run up to the Expo will see Dubai’s stock of mid-tier hotel properties receiving overdue attention. “Two years ago, a Dubai business traveller spent 1.8 days; this has now increased to 3.6 days,” he said. “For the many business travellers expected to come in light of the preparations for the Expo, mid-range hotels will be a boon. Currently, this sector is underdeveloped.”

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