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Expo 2020 Dubai completes site works ‘below budget’

As the Expo 2020 Dubai site completes all the major infrastructure work at the exhibition site, the construction of the project has been delivered “below budget”, according to a senior executive managing the event’s masterplan.

“So, as of today… we completed the infrastructure completely, 100 percent… All the roads, all drainage, telecommunication, water, electricity, all completed,” Ahmed Al Khatib, chief development and delivery officer at Expo 2020 Dubai, told Arabian Business in an interview at the Expo site on Tuesday.

According to his official biography, Al Khatib is responsible for the delivery and management of the Expo site masterplan, as well as all its supporting utilities, infrastructure services, roads, networks and transportation.

“We’ve finished all the roads, except for the final layer, we will keep it late, and the road markings, so it is fresh. The landscaping of the entire site is in progress… We completed three of the surrounding buildings of Al Wasl. There are five, we completed three of them. Two of them are due for completion by November. The themed pavilions – Sustainability, Mobility and Opportunity – they are in progress and towards the end of the year, beginning of next year, they will be done and completed with exhibitions,” he added.

With the major works now complete, Al Khatib was asked if the project was on target in terms of budget.

“It is actually below budget,” he answered.

According to the budget documents submitting as part of the Expo 2020 Dubai bid, the total capital expenditure for the site will be AED25 billion ($6.8 billion). A report by HSBC said the total budget for the project is AED33bn ($8.9bn), with AED23bn ($6.2bn) being invested in urban developments and infrastructure projects.

Expo 2020 Dubai will run from October 20, 2020 to April 20, 2021 and it is estimated the event will attract 25 million visits, with around 70 percent coming from overseas.

In April a report by global consultancy firm EY forecast that Expo 2020 Dubai will boost the UAE economy by AED122.6bn ($33.4bn) and support 905,200 job-years between 2013 and 2031

During the peak six-month period of the World Expo, the largest event to be held in the Arab World is predicted to add the equivalent of 1.5 percent to the UAE gross domestic product.

Najeeb Mohammed Al-Ali, executive director of the Dubai Expo 2020 Bureau, said: “This independent report demonstrates that Expo 2020 Dubai is a critical long-term investment in the future of the UAE, which will contribute more than 120 billion dirhams to the economy between 2013 and 2031.

“Not only will the event encourage millions around the world to visit the UAE in 2020, it will also stimulate travel and tourism and support economic diversification for years after the Expo, leaving a sustainable economic legacy that will help to ensure the UAE remains a leading destination for business, leisure and investment.”

The report added that small and medium enterprises, a core component of the UAE economy, will receive AED4.7 billion in investment during the pre-Expo phase, supporting 12,600 job-years.

The full interview with Ahmed Al Khatib, chief development and delivery officer at Expo 2020 Dubai, will be published as part of Arabian Business’ special Expo 2020 Dubai edition on October 20.