With less than a year to go until Expo 2020 Dubai opens on 1 October, there’s a flurry of activities at the Expo 2020 Dubai site that is now getting its final touches. Despite Covid-19 there has been no slowdown in construction of the stunning selection of buildings and public areas at the site, designed by the world’s top ‘starchitects’. In an interview to Property Weekly, chief development and delivery officer of Expo 2020 Dubai, Ahmed Al Khatib talks about all that’s happening at the site.
How prepared is the Expo 2020 Dubai site? How much of it is now complete?
We are on track to host a once-in-a-lifetime experience on a world-class site that will showcase breakthrough design. More than 220 million work hours have been completed so far, with work this year focusing on landscaping and fit-out of Expo-owned buildings. We have also started to install signage, wayfinding and road markings, and are continuing to landscape the public realm, with hundreds of thousands of plants, shrubs and trees. In total, more than 340 different species have been chosen, many of which are native to the region.
How are the pavilions coming along in terms of construction?
Work on the pavilions is going strong, with all permanent Expo-led construction having been completed at the end of 2019. This includes the three thematic districts, which were completed by June 2019. Each thematic district represents one of our three subthemes – Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability – and in addition to the pavilions, they will also include performance spaces, innovation galleries, food and beverage outlets, art installations and outdoor parks and gardens, providing opportunities for our visitors to relax and refresh. The Mobility Pavilion and Sustainability Pavilion have both been completed and their exhibitions have been installed, while the Expo 2020 entry portals, positioned at the each of the arrival plazas, were unveiled early in February.
How much work is underway for the country pavilions?
We are working closely with our international participants as many of the country pavilions now reach construction completion. This includes, for example, Norway, which was the first pavilion to be completed and be awarded a Building Completion Certificate. Finland is also one of the most advanced, along with Austria, which announced it completed the external structure of its pavilion in September.
How is work proceeding for Al Wasl Plaza?
Al Wasl Plaza, the iconic centrepiece of the site, was crowned in September last year – an unprecedented feat of engineering – and inaugurated in January. The final finishing touches to the plaza area and public realm will be added closer to the start of the mega-event, so that they remain fresh for the launch of Expo 2020 on 1 October 2021.
Is the accommodation ready at the Expo Village for staff who must live onsite?
Construction of the Expo Village, which will be where international participants and their staff live for the duration of Expo 2020, has already been completed. The furniture that will be in each apartment is currently in storage and will be put in place closer to event time.
Tell us about the on-site hotel? What do the hospitality offerings look like?
We’re very excited that a homegrown hotel, Rove Expo 2020, will be the only on-site hotel at Expo 2020. It will open on 1 October to coincide with the start of the mega-event and will be located at the centre of the action, right next to Al Wasl Plaza, where the opening and closing ceremonies and 182 days of live productions will take place. The Rove Expo 2020’s hospitality offerings include 312 rooms and 19 suites, a rooftop swimming pool and sundeck overlooking Al Wasl Plaza, plus the lifestyle brand’s signature neighbourhood food and beverage hangout, The Daily, a grab-and-go Rove Café and The Bar. Besides this, there will be a host of culinary experiences to suit every palate and budget across 200-plus dining outlets across the Expo site.