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Dubai Expo 2020 draws curtains; what happens to the expo site now?

02 April 2022


For several thousands of loyal patrons, the event was more than a destination, it was an emotion.

Nahla Abdul Latif, a loyal visitor to the expo said “you forget the chaos of the world you live in while you are at the Expo.”

Now, the big question is what will happen to the sprawling Expo site once its giant portals are closed for the final time at 3am on 1st April.

This mega event which focuses on building a better tomorrow will help evolve a ’15-minute’ smart city called District 2020 that will evolve from Expo 2020 Dubai.

District 2020 will re-use 80 percent of Expo’s build environment into an ‘integrated mixed-use community’ that will continue to draw businesses and people to work, live, visit and enjoy, as per the Expo website.

The first group of 85 start-ups and small businesses will begin by setting up shops at District 2020 towards the end of this year.

The Vice-President of District 2020, Nadimeh Mehra, said that the first select startups can begin operating from District 2020 going rent-free for two years.

The Director of Innovation Ecosystem and Scale2Dubai (global entrepreneurship programme), Tala Al Ansari, mentioned that the startups will see a ‘soft landing at District 2020 and will become a part of our innovation ecosystem.”

About 800 residential units are available for rent and will be handed over from first quarter of next year, along with 2300 apartments located at the adjacent Expo Village, said Sanjive Khosla, Senior Vice President, District 2020.

Residents and employees will get to enjoy the iconic landmarks at the Expo site, which will continue to live post the mega event, which includes the gravity-defying Water Feature, Observation Deck Garden in the Sky and the iconic Al Wasl Plaza.

Tenants and visitors will get the opportunity to indulge in some country pavilions that remain major cultural attractions, including the Saudi, UAE and India.

The Sustainability Pavilion (Terra) will be transformed into a Children and Science Centre, while the Mobility Pavilion (Alif), Mission Possible, Vision Pavilion and Dubai Exhibition Centre will remain as it is.

District 2020 will be the UAE’s first 15-minute city. Everything they require, ranging from parks, groceries, offices, retail shops, coffee shops and restaurants will be accessible within 15 minutes by cycling, walking or riding e-scooters. The point is to make living car-free by connecting people through pedestrian walk ways, autonomous vehicle routes and public transportation networks.

In other words, it is a ‘human-centric’ city, which is essentially “a city designed around people, and not around buildings or cars,” says Khosla. They are meant to meet the requirements of people who live and work there.

Robin Vinod

Writer/blogger who writes on topics such as travel, real estate, employment and everyday life on GCC countries.

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