Expo 2020 site to live on as office and exhibition space

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The Expo 2020 site will become “the future home of Dubai’s conferences and exhibitions” once the event concludes in 2021.

Marjan Faraidooni, the organising body’s vice president of legacy, said that more than 80 per cent of the 4.3-square-kilometre site in the Dubai South district will be reused for conferencing and exhibitions, as well as providing collaborative working spaces, an educational institute and a “science exploratorium”.

“More than 80 per cent of our investments will be retained following the event,” Ms Faraidooni said at the Cityscape Global conference on Monday. “This includes the infrastructure, as well as the cutting-edge technologies, the roads and public transport systems put in place to host the Expo.”

The conference and exhibition centre, a key building in the Expo master plan, will become a major event venue, to be operated by Dubai World Trade Centre.

Ms Faraidooni described it as “the other growth engine” for Dubai World Trade Centre, alongside its existing site on Sheikh Zayed Road.

She said that the Expo 2020 legacy committee is also trying to build an ecosystem to allow four industries to flourish on the site – transport and logistics, travel and tourism, real estate and education.

For instance, more than 200,000 square metres of pavilions being provided to developing nations as part of the Expo will be converted into offices and collaborative workspaces to be used by both large and small businesses.

Two of the UAE’s three key pavilions are being converted into learning spaces. The Mobility Pavilion designed by the architecture practice Foster + Partners will be used as an educational institution focused specifically on logistics. Meanwhile, the Sustainability Pavilion designed by Grimshaw Architects – the firm behind the UK’s Eden Project – will become a science exploratorium.

Ahmed Al Khatib, the vice president of real estate for Expo 2020, said that it had “received a clear direction from His Highness [Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid] that nothing will be built for Expo to be dismantled. So the challenge we faced was how can we build something capable of hosting 25 million visitors – the population of Australia – and at the same time keep that development flexible enough to adjust itself to future market needs.”

He said that it had benchmarked itself against other successful legacy stories following major recent international events including the London Olympics and the Lisbon Expo ’98 – both of which have been recognised as creating successful legacies following major events.

Expo 2020 has also released a video highlighting the legacy of the first Expo – London’s Great Exhibition of 1865, which led to the creation of a series of cultural, educational and scientific exhibitions in one district in the South Kensington area of the city known as Exhibition Row. It contains the Imperial College London, the Natural History Museum, the Royal Albert Hall, Royal College of Music, and Royal College of Art and the Science Museum, among others.

Other notable monuments created as a result of past Expos include the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Atomium in Brussels and the Space Needle in Seattle.

Steven Henderson, a partner at the law firm Baker & McKenzie Habib Al Mulla, said that Dubai’s Expo 2020 has already provided “a shot in the arm” for areas around the site, including the new Al Maktoum International Airport and the wider Dubai South site, as well as helping to revive nearby communities that had stalled following the 2008 financial crisis, such as Jumeirah Village Circle.

“I think the legacy for the city is going to be a real conference hub around the site and it will develop that end of Dubai, particularly with the parks and resorts opening up,” he said.

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Photo Image Credit: Satish Kumar / The National