Following a period of what can only be described as pure unadulterated hype when Dubai proudly promoted its bid to host the World Expo 2020, the city was declared the winning destination on Wednesday, November 27, 2013.
Dubai’s bid theme of Connecting Minds, Creating the Future will now be put into practice as the emirate embarks on the massive task of building an Expo site and supporting infrastructure. At the same time, new tourism-related projects already planned for the city are likely to be fast-tracked to ensure many are fully operational by 2020, while some projects put on hold during the global economic crisis are now set to be revived.
The six-month-long Expo 2020 will be staged at Dubai Trade Centre – Jebel Ali. This site has been selected due to its strategic location, equidistant between Dubai and Abu Dhabi and adjacent to Dubai World Central (DWC). The new business cluster is home to Al Maktoum International Airport, which commenced commercial passenger services in October 2013 and, when fully operational in the 2020s, will boast a capacity of 160 million annual passengers, although Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths has said this could be increased to up to 200 million.
The Expo site’s masterplan, designed by HOK, Populous and Arup, is a manifestation of the Connecting Minds, Creating the Future theme. At the core of the site is an open plaza called Al Wasl, which means ‘the connection’ in Arabic and is a historical name for Dubai. Branching out from the plaza are three main zones that symbolise the bid’s sub themes of sustainability, mobility and opportunity.