Reem Al Hashimy, minister of state and managing director, Dubai Expo 2020 speaking at Africa Global Business Forum in Dubai on Thursday. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Reem Al Hashemi, the UAE Minister of State, said on Thursday the government will start issuing tenders for Expo 2020 infrastructure in the first quarter next year.

Dubai won the right to host Expo 2020 in 2013, beating out cities from Turkey, Russia and Brazil. As part of its bid the emirate has earmarked billions of dollars of infrastructure investment including an extension of the metro rail link, new hotels and roads.

Reem, who earlier spoke to an audience at the Africa Global Business Forum in Dubai, said investment in infrastructure for Expo 2020 is expected to cost between €5 and €7 billion (Dh23-Dh32 billion).

Asked if the Expo 2020 bid is affordable, Al Hashimy said “It’s realistic.”

Later speaking to reporters, Reem said the government was “taking a diverse” approach to funding the infrastructure demands of Expo 2020 but declined to state specific details.

“It’s a series of different funding mechanisms and portfolios. There’s obviously interest from the private sector already. There’s going to be a government commitment that will contribute,” she said, adding that the government was “optimistic” on the funding.

Asked if the government contribution would come from Dubai or federal coffers, Reem said: “This is a UAE national project.”

Financial sustainability

Dubai has announced the launch and re-launch of a number of mega projects this year as the emirate bounces back from the global financial crisis and housing property downturn in 2008 and 2009. Questions have been raised on the financial sustainability of the projects. Last month, Dubai announced a $32 billion expansion of Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central (DWC), which is expected to handle the bulk of the 20 million visitors that will flock to Dubai to visit the Expo site.

Reem dismissed questions surrounding the viability of the Expo bid by saying the government has a “long-term robust plan” by building a city surrounding the site for the emirate beyond 2040. Expo 2020 will be in the DWC area, in the south of the emirate.

The Expo site will permanently host a museum, apartment and office buildings as well as the relocated Dubai World Trade Centre.

Reem also told reporters that 30,000 Emirati volunteers will be involved in hosting of Expo 2020. She was speaking at the forum on how Expo 2020 will open Africa to greater foreign investment opportunities.