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Expo 2020 Dubai was visited by more than 24 million people.
Expo City Dubai is part of the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan.
In June 2022 it was announced that from October the Expo 2020 site would be re-opening as Expo City Dubai, ‘an ideal, smart and futuristic destination for business and innovation, driven by sustainability, innovation, education and entertainment; a city connected to a port and two airports.’
Expo City Dubai will be a car-free, environmentally-friendly, tech-enabled city, home to a new museum, a world-class exhibition centre and a sustainable home for business headquarters, startups, and SMEs.
It will continue to host the falcon-inspired UAE Pavilion and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Pavilion, as well as the reworked pavilions of Luxembourg, Australia, Pakistan, India, Morocco and Egypt.
Three of Expo 2020’s most popular attractions will remain; Al Wasl Plaza, the Garden in the Sky observation tower and the Surreal water feature, while Alif, the Mobility Pavilion and Terra, the Sustainability Pavilion, will become interactive educational experiences.
The Opportunity Pavilion will become the Expo 2020 Dubai Museum, highlighting the history and impact of World Expos.
Two other attractions are the Women’s Pavilion, which features female change-makers across the world, and the Vision Pavilion, honouring the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Expo City will also house the world-class Dubai Exhibition Centre (DEC) that will continue to host a range of conferences, events and activities as it had done during Expo 2020.
Expo City Dubai will retain 80% of the infrastructure and buildings already constructed, including 123 LEED-certified buildings. It will also be the first WELL-certified community in the region, demonstrating the built environment’s positive impact on health and wellness.
The city will also be converted to a freezone site, where businesses will be able to enjoy modern infrastructure, including access to a 5G-enabled network. No cars will be allowed across the site. Instead, tenants will be able to take advantage of soft mobility, such as the use of buggies, scooters, and bicycles.
DP World, Siemens, and Terminus Group, who were major partners of the six-month Expo event, will be the first anchor tenants in the new freezone City.
There are six sub-communities in Expo City Dubai. Learn more in the following guides.
The map below shows the location of Expo City Dubai and just below are summaries of the nearest attractions, parks, beaches, golf clubs and cinemas.
Expo City Dubai has many schools nearby including Greenfield International School at 1.9 km and The International School of Choueifat DIP at 3.7 km.
Explore communities that are either adjacent or close to Expo City Dubai.
A look at the original masterplan published by the developer at the time of the launch of Expo City Dubai.
At the centre of the master plan for the expo area are three distinct zones, each dedicated to one of the sub-themes of Mobility, Sustainability and Opportunity, which converge at the central Al Wasl Plaza, ‘the figurative and literal heart of Expo 2020’. Each zone has its own theme pavilion provided by the UAE, the host nation.
The design contract for the venue was awarded to a consortium consisting of US-based architects HOK and engineering firm Arup, who were also involved in creating a blueprint for Dubai's Expo bid.
In August 2015 US-based engineering and design firm Parsons was awarded the infrastructure design and construction supervision services contract for the Expo 2020 Dubai site.
In October 2015 it was rumoured that Emaar Properties & Dubai World Trade Centre LLC will work together to build a shopping centre along with several hotels which would be designed to cater for business travellers.
In March 2016 designs from three architectural practices were chosen for the theme pavilions following an international competition. The brief included a key criterion stipulating that the designs should not only embody one of Expo's core themes, but also have the flexibility and longevity to live on as landmarks and functional structures after the Expo is complete in 2021.
For detailed information on the theme pavilions please follow these links:
The central element in the design of the Expo 2020 Dubai site is Al Wasl Plaza, an open space that combines breathtaking design, innovative technology, and an intricate domed trellis incorporating a huge immersive projection experience.
For detailed information on Al Wasl Plaza please follow this link: Al Wasl Plaza
Images depicting the initial concept designs for Expo City Dubai.
Projects often go though a number of design revisions as they progress and developers may or may not honour their original plans when it comes to architectural designs, amenities and landscaping. The images below are provided as a means to compare the original plans with the realised development.
In November 2013 Dubai won the right to host the internationally-renowned World Expo event in 2020 making it the first Middle Eastern city to win the award.
The theme chosen for the event was "Connecting Minds, Creating the Future" which emphasises the city's pioneering attitude to innovation and development.
The Expo site is in Jebel Ali and lies to the south of the E311 Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed highway linking Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The site is more or less half way between the two cities, the better to facilitate the movement of people and materials during construction, and the flow of visitors during the six months of the Expo, from 1 October 2021 until 31 March 2022.
Spread over an area of 430 hectares (1,062 acres) the site comprises a two square kilometre gated expo area surrounded by residential, hospitality and logistics zones.
See the development of Expo City Dubai in photos.
Early works, including completion of excavation of the basement for the three thematic districts, were completed in 2016.
In March 2017 Al Futtaim Carillion, a venture partly owned by London-listed Carillion Plc, was chosen as the main contractor for the development of three districts of the Expo site that are expected to house as many as 136 pavilions for the world’s fair.
Al Futtaim Carillion is 51 per cent owned by Dubai firm Al Futtaim and 49 per cent by Carillion Construction Overseas Ltd, part of the Carillion group. The contract is worth $600 million (Dh2.2 billion), and was the first of $3 billion of construction deals that Dubai plans to award for the Expo in 2017.
The majority of infrastructure work, including the media centre, VIP facilities and other operational areas, was completed in 2018 prior to participant nations beginning construction of national pavilions. All infrastructure work was completed by October 2019.
At the end of Expo 2020 the site will be demobilised and converted into to the legacy phase. 80 per cent of the Expo site building footprint will be repurposed for future use.
The first infrastructure package involved the installation of electricity, water, and drainage for the Expo Village, as well as the implementation of digital technology. It also included the construction of two pumping stations; one for sewerage, and one for irrigation and fire fighting.
The Expo Village is the residential area that will accommodate participants during the Expo. It was scheduled to be completed by the end of 2019.
The second infrastructure package which includes the deep infrastructure for the gated area of the site went to tender at the end of 2016. The third and final infrastructure package included the surface road network.
In July 2017 a contract worth Dh353 million was awarded to Arabtec to build the UAE Pavilion at the site, and another worth Dh619m to HLG Contracting to build five towers at the Expo Village.
Contracts to build the three major pavilions representing Expo 2020’s main themes of sustainability, opportunity and mobility, were awarded to UAE’s Al Futtaim Construction in the fourth quarter of 2017. The works were completed in May 2019.
The thematic districts include three-storey pavilions covering 201,000 square metres and a single-storey parking basement covering 147,000 square metres.
Subsequent contracts, including mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP), elevators and escalators, façade, shade structures, and public realm were put to tender in the second quarter of 2017, with contracts awarded in the third quarter of the same period. A tender to build up to 30,000 car parking spaces around the outer elements of the site was floated by the end of the September 2017.
The construction contracts were part of a package of almost Dh11 billion worth of contracts that Expo bosses awarded in 2017.
Additional public realm infrastructure was put to tender in the first quarter of 2018, and includes concourses, a performance area and children’s parks, as well as back-of-house secure areas, such as warehousing.
The three DEWA substations to power the 4.38sq km site and other key water, sewage and telecommunications infrastructure, including the 2.2 km road network, have been completed.
All infrastructure work was set to be complete by 2018, with all of Expo’s buildings set to be ready by October 2019 - a full year ahead of the event's original opening date.
Al Wasl Plaza is the focal point of the site, and the trellis structure for its 67.5-metre tall, 130-metre wide dome, was awarded in December 2017 to Cimolai Rimond Middle East General Contracting LLC, a UAE-Italian joint venture. It was constructed using 13,600 metres of steelwork weighing 2,265 tonnes and encloses a space of 724,000 cubic metres.
By the end of 2017 over 150 countries had committed to take part in Expo 2020 Dubai. They were able to begin site work for the construction of their pavilions from April 2018.
The Expo 2020 team had a presence on site throughout the Milan Expo, from construction through to demolition, and spoke to participating countries to make sure they learned as much as possible.
The video below from August 2021 shows the final construction phase of various pavilions that the Nussli Group is working on:
District 2020, the legacy site of Expo 2020 Dubai.
District 2020 residents will live and work in the UAE's first 15-minute city. Everything they need from offices, parks, groceries, retail shops, restaurants and coffee shops will be accessible by simply cycling, walking or riding e-scooters – accessible in under 15 minutes.
The key is to make living car-free by connecting people via pedestrian walkways, autonomous vehicle routes and public transportation networks for an estimated population of 145,000 people. There will be 10km of cycling tracks, 5km of jogging tracks and multi-purpose sports facilities.
About 800 residential units, available only for rent, will be handed over starting from the beginning of 2023, along with about 2,300 apartments at the nearby Expo village.
Residents and employees will enjoy some of the iconic landmarks of Expo 2020, which will be retained, including the feet-dipping Water Feature and the observation deck, Garden in the Sky. In the evenings, there will be 360 degree light projections, diverse events and concerts at the Al Wasl Plaza.
Tenants and visitors will also get the chance to visit some country pavilions that will remain, including those of the UAE, Saudi Arabia and India.
The Sustainability Pavilion (Terra) will be transformed into a Children and Science Centre, while the Mobility Pavilion (Alif), Vision Pavilion, Mission Possible, and Dubai Exhibition Centre will remain unchanged.
District 2020 was designed to utilise 80 per cent of Expo's built environment, but in reality 90 to 95 per cent will be re-purposed.
Access to the District will be facilitated by the dedicated metro station and three major arterial roads with flyovers purposely built prior to District 2020 occupation.
The 15-minute city was shaped with the UAE's scorching summer heat in mind. The Expo 2020 buildings were built close to each other, and with a lot of shaded areas and greenery, which reduces the temperature as you walk between buildings. Public transport network of buses and autonomous vehicles will also help tenants, workers, and visitors move around during the heat.
By early 2022 15 per cent of commercial office space had already been pre-leased. The first tenants to move in are businesses whose office spaces will be ready by July. Spaces in District 2020 are available for rent, although purchasing property may be an option in the future.
The Expo 2020 site will be transformed into the integrated residential community in six to nine months. Three of the five tall buildings surrounding Al Wasl Plaza will be transformed into office spaces within the first three months, followed by work on the thematic districts, and then the residential units, which are set to be ready by the end of 2022.
The site’s major attractions will remain open to visitors throughout the nine-month reconstruction.
There were over 100 large stand-alone pavilions in Expo City Dubai and all of the major ones are listed below. Some of the pavilions have been or will be dismantled following the close of the Expo season whilst some of the larger pavilions will remain as permanent structures for use as museums and event spaces.
We currently maintain records for nine building developments in Expo City Dubai.
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