Dubai: The sun may be setting on another year, but there’s so much to look forward to locally in 2020. Starting with Expo 2020, Gulf News has compiled a comprehensive list of the top 20 things to look out for, from projects and concepts, to initiatives and developments that will directly affect you.
Expo 2020 Dubai
The World’s Greatest Show will open in Dubai on October 20, 2020. For six months till April 10, 2021, Dubai will host millions from across the world to experience the best of art, culture, geography, science, technology, innovation and invention and to set into motion millions of new thoughts and ideas that will make a lasting impact in our lives.
Year of Preparation
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said 2020 would be the beginning of the UAE’s journey towards the next 50, as it approaches its Golden Jubilee in 2021. Two new committees were set up to plan Golden Jubilee celebrations and build a plan for the next 50 years. Shaikh Mohammad said, “We want 2020, the year before our Golden Jubilee, to be similar to 1970 when a new journey was being drafted for this nation.”
After a public vote, in which 7.2 million participated, the UAE will get a new logo to present itself to the world over the next 50 years. People were asked to choose between three designs ‘Calligraphy’, ‘The Palm’ and ‘Seven Lines’, and voting closes on December 31. A tree will be planted for every vote cast to reflect the UAE’s commitment to combat climate change.
There has been a significant fall in rent over the last two years but there is still hope that rent and the overall cost of living will come down even further thanks to significant supply.
Job creation has been slow of late but there are high expectations that, with Expo 2020 Dubai and the investment in infrastructure and new projects, the recruitment scene will reawaken.
A new insurance system called Diagnosis Related Group (DRG) classification will be introduced by Dubai Health Insurance Corporation at Dubai Health Authority from next year that will provide ease of payment and bring down insurance premiums. The system uses algorithms to fix base fees for treatment, medication and duration of stay and will lead to greater transparency and accountability in medical procedure rates and billings.
RTA is expected to start the test-run of the Route 2020, a 15-km extension of Dubai Metro, in February 2020. Branching out from Nakheel Harbour and Tower Station on the Red Line, the extension covers 11.8km elevated track, and a 3.2km underground track. The Expo Station is set to handle millions of visitors as it is the gateway to the Expo Site.
The first 10-km stretch of a 150-km Hyperloop system between Dubai and Abu Dhabi is expected to begin construction next year.
The cutting-edge technology uses electromagnetic levitation engineering to carry pods at 1,123km/h reducing travel time from just over an hour to 12 minutes. Bibop Gresta, chairman of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, said it would cost between US$20 million to US$40 million per kilometre but that investment would be recouped in eight to 15 years.
“It was a far-fetched dream, but we are all excited now that it’s a dream coming true in the UAE in 2020.”
Abu Dhabi Toll
Launched on October 15, the fees for using one of the four bridges that lead onto Abu Dhabi Island will come into effect on January 2. This will alleviate traffic in the capital and reduce adverse effects of vehicle emissions on the environment. Motorists will be charged Dh4 every time they pass a toll gate, but there’s a cap of Dh16 a day and Dh200 a month. Tariffs will only be enforced during peak times too, between 7am-9am and 5pm-7pm from Saturday to Thursday. There are also exemptions for seniors, people of determination and low-income earners.
The Higher Committee for Consumer Protection is introducing a ‘consumer basket’ for basic food commodities, which aims to curb retail prices on the four main groups of the most important items consumers deal with on a daily basis. This is to achieve greater stability and balance in the consumer goods market and to enhance the positive impact on consumers.
Etihad Rail network
A Chinese corporation is expected to start work on a 145-kilometre stretch of railway line, connecting the Fujairah and Khorfakkan ports to the Etihad Rail network at the Dubai-Sharjah border. The project includes 15 tunnels through the Hajar Mountains, covering a length of 16km, and 35 bridges.
Museum of the Future
Designed to transport visitors deep into the future of the 21st century, Dubai’s Museum of the Future near Emirates Towers on Shaikh Zayed Road will showcase futuristic technologies and new ways of living. With drones, robots and other high-tech inventions, it will offer visitors real experiences of futuristic technologies. If you have ever paid the Dh10 Innovation Fee, you can be proud that you also contributed to the construction of this museum.
The first visitors will be able to take up a spot on “Ain Dubai” — the world’s tallest observation wheel — some time just ahead of the Expo 2020 Dubai’s opening date on October 20, 2020. And they can get a bird’s-eye view of Dubai from a height of 250 metres. The world’ largest Ferris wheel project by Meraas is located on the Bluewaters Island.
Dubbed the biggest cultural project, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Library in Al Jaddaf, in the shape of a lectern, will have a million printed, electronic and audio books.
The project includes an International Library, Media Library, Periodicals Library, Audiovisual and Publications Library, Youth Library, study rooms, meeting rooms, as well as a private library containing collectibles, books and rare articles related to the Al Maktoum family.
Madame Tussauds, Dubai
Fancy taking selfies with your favourite celebrities? Well, you may be able to get them all together, but in their wax replicas, at the Madame Tussauds Dubai that is expected to open its doors in 2020. The first Middle Eastern branch of the famous wax museum will be located next to the Ain Dubai, on Bluewaters Island off Dubai Marina, and operated by Merlin Entertainments.
Deep Tunnel Storm Water System
Dubai Municipality’s Deep Tunnel Storm Water System will be ready before the start of the Expo 2020. Aimed to collect and convey groundwater and storm water runoff, and direct it into the sea, it is a critical project to face the future challenges from rains and rising groundwater over the next 100 years. It will serve the whole of Dubai South, which is home to the EXPO 2020 site, the Al Maktoum International Airport, and several other emerging developments.
Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi
The first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi, the BAPS Mandir, is expected to open its first phase to the public in 2020. The first phase of the temple, with seven towers representing seven emirates, will include community centres, halls and exhibition spaces in the sprawling complex in the Abu Mureikha area of Abu Dhabi. Work on the hand-crafted marble and sandstone shrine will be completed by 2022.
Dubai Creek Tower
Set for completion in 2020 ahead of its planned 2021 opening, Dubai Creek Tower — standing at, at least, 828-metres — will overtake the Burj Khalifa as the world’s tallest tower.
It’s speculative, but there is growing consensus that the UAE may lift the ban on WhatsApp calls soon, allowing for free VoIP. Mohammad Al Kuwaiti, executive director of the UAE’s National Electronic Security Authority, told CNBC that talks were ongoing. Apps like ToTok, were already free to use for VoIP calls until it got banned this week, but the app’s owner is confident it will return and that the outlook is bright for free VoIP calls due to Expo 2020.
A more ‘accessible’ Dubai
Dubai Disability Strategy, ‘My Society, a Place for All’, seeks to transform Dubai into an entirely disabled-friendly city in 2020. Dubai’s Executive Council, in cooperation with various entities, has been working to make public buildings and city facilities friendly for people of determination and more accessible for everybody. More ramps, tactile pavements and accessible toilets will be available across the city.