Dubai: A group of Dubai residents on Monday shared their excitement about being the first to get a sneak peek into the World Expo 2020 site during the newly launched free public bus tour.
Some of them, who spoke to Gulf News after the tour, said they will come back to witness the world’s greatest show in the making before it actually starts welcoming millions from across the world.
Karen Smith from Canada and Marion Prebble from New Zealand said they were excited to read that the Expo site is finally open for the public to take a look at the developments.
“We were here in 2013 when Dubai was awarded the Expo. So, we are excited about the Expo coming up finally,” said Karen.
“It is nice to see even before it is finished. We can always say we were among the first to see the site.”
Marion said it was exciting to see the amazing progress happening at the Expo site.
“We will be definitely spreading the word among our friends. We also want to come back again.”
Ahmed Ali Atyat, an electrical engineer from Jordan who owns a company in Silicon Oasis, said his wife Farah Rihan, an architect, jumped at the opportunity to be among the first to see the iconic structures coming up at the site. The couple brought along their three-year-old son, Kinan, who probably was the youngest member among the first visitors to the site.
The couple said they were happy to see buildings that will play a role in the future of the nation rising up at the vast Expo site in Dubai South.
“It was an amazing experience. The bus tour was well organised and covered all the main milestones of the Expo developments. I cannot wait till the Expo,” said Ahmed.
He said he called a couple of friends while on the bus recommending them to visit the site.
Dayo Nwosis from Uganda said she had read a lot about the Expo 2020 and also heard a lot of speculations whether it is really going to happen. So, she decided to find it out by herself and took along her daughter Oyin Nwosis, 17, for the tour.
“Yes. It is going to happen,” Dayo was quick to answer her own question after finishing the tour.
As a real estate professional, she was eager to find out what will happen to all the buildings that are coming up at the Expo site after the six-month event starting in October 2020.
“One of the buildings is going to be a science museum. But I was curious to know what the other buildings will be used for. The entire future development of the area depends on that.”
Manal Al Bayat, chief community engagement officer, Expo 2020 Dubai, said about 80 per cent of the structures built for the Expo will be retained for multiple purposes.
“We are expecting 25 million visitors during the six months of the Expo. More than 70 per cent of the visitors are coming from outside the UAE. It is very important for us that people of the UAE get to experience the Expo before the rest of the world does. So, we are giving them a sneak peek of the site as it is nearing completion,” she said.
She said the three thematic districts — Sustainability, Mobility and Opportunity — are complete with lights, landscaping and water features. “Now we are finalising the iconic structures [inside the districts]. Seeing the iconic structures taking shape will be a special experience for the UAE residents and their friends and relatives.”
The official said engaging the community is critical for the success of the Expo. “We want to make sure that everyone in the UAE participates in the Expo. There will be more opportunities coming up for those who are not able to join on these tours. We will launch more initiatives and make sure that everyone gets an opportunity to be here,” she added.
Between July 20 and August 31, Expo 2020 coaches will collect visitors from pickup points across the UAE, including The Dubai Mall, Abu Dhabi Mall and other accessible locations in Sharjah and other emirates and shuttle them for a preview of the Expo 2020 site.
The bus journey includes a showreel on the history of World Expos as visitors make their way to the Expo site in Dubai South. Stops at the Expo 2020 site includes an inside look of the Visitor Centre, a taste of the food and beverage activities before re-boarding the bus for a tour of the site and its structures — all accompanied by interesting facts and figures.
The tour, which will run every Monday and Wednesday afternoon and all day on Saturdays, is open to everyone with a valid photo ID. For more details on timings and pickup locations, and to book a seat, you can visit the Expo 2020 website.