Dubai: Expo City Dubai is set to play a pivotal role in the evolution of Dubai as a global hub for innovation and economic growth. It is a smart city — designed with sustainability at its core — that will provide a holistic and balanced lifestyle for tenants and a best-in-class destination for visitors.
When His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced it on June 20, he said: “Expo City Dubai represents the most beautiful ambitions of Dubai. It will be an environmentally-friendly city, one friendly to families, to the economy, and to future generations.”
Expo City Dubai is the pioneering legacy plan of Expo 2020 Dubai, which ran from October 1, 2021 to March 31 this year and was visited by more than 24 million people. Strategically located midway between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, Expo City Dubai is also one for the five urban centres identified in Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan.
Expo City Dubai, which will officially open to the public in October, will retain 80 per cent of the infrastructure of Expo 2020 Dubai.
Expo’s iconic architectural features such as Al Wasl Plaza, the three thematic pavilions (Alif, Terra and Opportunity) are being retained and repurposed. The Women’s and Vision pavilions as well as Surreal (Expo water feature), Garden in the Sky and all the low-rise building within the thematic districts will remain.
Other pavilions that will reopen include the falcon-inspired UAE Pavilion and KSA pavilion, Women’s Pavilion and Vision Pavilion. Details of other country pavilions, including the reworked version of the pavilions of India, Pakistan, Luxembourg, Australia, Egypt and Morocco will be announced soon. The Dubai Exhibition Centre, which is just next to Expo 2020 Metro Station, will continue to host local and global events.
‘City of the future’
Ahmed Al Khatib, chief development and delivery officer for Expo 2020 Dubai, said Expo City Dubai will become an independent free zone with its own authority. It is already attracting interest from a large number of commercial tenants and will soon become the new headquarters of DP World, Siemens, as well as start-ups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Environmental sustainability is one of pillars of the futuristic city. The Expo site is home to more than 120 LEED-certified building and all these will be inherited by Expo City Dubai. Al Khatib said energy demand in buildings has been reduced to 20 per cent in comparison to international standards and all permanent buildings have had solar panels installed, providing approximately 22 per cent of the energy required for operation.
A built-in smart metering has also been installed in all buildings to provide feedback on energy and water consumption, allowing tenants to operate more sustainably.
Cars will not be allowed inside Expo City Dubai. It will be completely pedestrianised, with different ways of soft mobility including buggies, scooters and bicycles for people to move around. “We highly encourage of use of public transport as the City is easily accessible by Metro,” noted Al Khatib, adding Expo parking will be redesigned to make it easier for residents and visitors to move with ease.
The use of single-use plastic will also be prohibited inside Expo City Dubai, where people are envisioned to have a greater harmony with nature.
Health and wellness
To provide a holistic and balanced lifestyle for tenants and best-in-class destination for visitors, Expo City Dubai will have a 10km-long cycling track, a 5km running track and 45,000 square metres of parks and gardens.
Expo City Dubai is also the first community in the region to be registered under the Well Community Standard, which is a global benchmark for healthy communities.
Expo City Dubai is a perfect place for businesses to call home. As Dubai’s newest free zone, it will enjoy 5G enabled network.
Al Khatib said: “We are in the midst of careful selection process to ensure that all tenants and partners for growth are aligned with the values promoted throughout Expo 2020. Partners relocating to Expo City are already fitting out their spaces and we have received considerable interests from a variety of companies.”
Expo City Dubai is particularly keen to welcome any tenants focused on innovation, technology, education and health care.
Social, cultural and educational attractions
Marjan Faraidooni, chief experience officer of Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “Expo City Dubai will continue the Expo’s legacy of “learning beyond the classroom. The City will enrich real life experiences and engage students in topics related to science, technology, engineering, mathematics, arts, and culture.”
She added that later this year, the Opportunity Pavilion will become the Expo 2020 Dubai Museum to highlight the history and impact of world expos and success of the six-month global event in Dubai.
“Expo City Dubai will offer everyone — families, youth, students, tourists and more — repeated opportunities to experience rich, diverse, educational and cultural attractions. It will provide meaningful, relevant and stimulating educational and cultural experiences that will inspire learning and creativity through engaging contents — from immersive exhibits to curated workshops and special programming. Students will be able to dive deep into a range of topics complementing the different curricula being taught in schools,” she added.
Opening in phases
“Expo City Dubai will open in phases. Some of the big pavilions like Terra (Sustainability) and Alif (Mobility) will reopen in September, in time for the school opening and to welcome students who will come for visits,” Sconaid McGeachin, senior vice-president of communications, Expo 2020 Dubai, told Gulf News during a press briefing on Monday.
McGeachin explained to Gulf News the gradual opening of Expo City Dubai, with the students being the first expected visitors as Alif and Terra pavilions will re-live their interactive educational offerings. “The rest of the City will open in phases, coinciding with the first anniversary of Expo 2020 Dubai in October,” she added.
Three new pavilions will also rise in each thematic district — Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability. Opening in the next couple of months, they will be named the Stories of the Nations, as they will capture the spirit of countries within each district.
The next chapter: Expo City to host COP28 in November
On Wednesday, June 22, President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan announced Expo City Dubai will host the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP28) that will run for 12 days from November 6-17 next year.
The conference is expected to see over 45,000 participants daily, including heads of state, government officials, international industry leaders, private sector representatives, academics, experts and representatives of civil society organisations. Both Expo 2020 and COP28 share similar objectives, that is: “Achieving sustainability and promoting international action as essential steps towards facing global challenges.”
The selection of Expo City Dubai as a venue for COP28 builds on the legacy and message of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, and affirms commitment to the themes of sustainability, opportunity, and mobility, while showcasing its advanced and sustainable infrastructure, in line with the UAE’s vision for COP28.
During the last general assembly of Bureau International des Expositions on June 20, Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Co-operation and managing director of Expo 2020 Dubai, said Expo City Dubai will be a “24-hour neighbourhood”.
“While Expo 2020 Dubai closed its doors, Expo City Dubai never will. (It) will continue to provide a model for innovative urban districts geared towards collaboration, knowledge sharing and talent creation for the benefit of future generations. It will leverage into extraordinary infrastructure advantages to generate local and global economic value as a clean and green tech hub. The city will be that will feature unique art and world-class architecture,” she said.
She added among the first expected to move in are several start-ups, while Expo Village is already being prepared for long-term residential tenants.
Entry to Expo City Dubai is free but individual attractions within the city will have an entrance fee, which will be announced soon.
Fast facts — Expo City Dubai
• 80 per cent of Expo-built infrastructure is retained for Expo City Dubai
• 120 LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified buildings are located at Expo City Dubai, designed for green living
• 20 per cent — reduction of energy demand in buildings at Expo City Dubai
• Expo City Dubai will be free of single-use plastic
• Cars are not allowed inside Expo City Dubai
• 5G-enabled network available at Expo City Dubai
• Three of Expo 2020’s most iconic attractions (Al Wasl Plaza, Garden in the Sky, Surreal water feature) will remain
• September — Alf and Terra pavilions will be the first to open to the public
• October 1 — anniversary of Expo 2020 Dubai; official opening of Expo City Dubai
• 24 million — recorded visitors of Expo 2020 Dubai that ran from October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022
• Expo City Dubai will have 10km-long cycling track; 5km running track; and 45,000 square metres of parks and gardens
• Built-in smart metering has also been installed in all buildings