With a little over 14 months to go before the 'world's greatest show' opens to all, residents across the UAE have been wondering how Expo 2020 Dubai will unfold. But one thing is clear, they said, 'exciting changes' are bound to take place.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, recently checked on how several Expo infrastructure projects are taking shape.
And in a tweet, he said: "450 days remaining for Expo 2020 Dubai, with 190 countries leading the world towards a better future through their pavilions for the first time in the MEASA. We are ready and remain true to our promise of hosting the best Expo edition yet in its 168-year history."
Sheikh Mohammed's countdown - along with the assurance that it's going to be the best World Expo ever - stirred up families, professionals and entrepreneurs. And a number of them shared their excitement and expectations with Khaleej Times.
The Expo brings an unparalleled opportunity for all residents - young and old - to be part of a global vision that is "bigger than themselves", they said.
Sarah Bacon, founder of weshareproperty, said: "Expo visitors frequently exceed 20 million, with the record set in Shanghai in 2010 at over 70 million. The resulting boost to Dubai's hotels, restaurants and retail during the mega event will be great. However, there is a lot more to a successful Expo than that.
"If major events, such as the Expo or Olympics, have taught us anything, it is that they can only be considered successful when their legacy is included from the outset - and then delivered."
Legacy plans for Dubai's mega event are already in place. The massive site alone is set to be repurposed and developed into integrated communities, with open spaces and 'commuting to work via bicycles' as the norm. And these communities are expected to shape the 'Dubai of the future'.
"Our children will be part of the latest in global innovation - from the sustainable development goals to artificial intelligence. Where else can you drive down the road and see this under one roof?" added Bacon.
"The themes selected by Dubai's Expo will result in crucial, tangible support for companies in that ecosystem, in terms of access to funding, grants, customers," she said.
'Push for change'
Besides the economic benefits, people are also looking forward to discovering how the Expo will change Dubai's identity and boost its image as a global icon.
Abdulla Kunhi, owner of design firm AKDesigno, said: "The thing that comes to mind when we speak about Dubai is innovation, vibrant and bustling skyline. You can see the modern merged well (with the heritage), keeping the strong history as well as the emergence of Dubai as a city that everybody wants to visit.
"All around the world, there is a constant push for change, as well as talks and plans for development and re-development. However, Dubai is one of the few places where that talk can be witnessed turning into action."
For architect Ajay Mayekar, on the other hand, half a decade was more than enough to notice how the emirate works hard to achieve its development goals.
"Between now and five years ago when I moved to Dubai, the city has witnessed some major transformations. It has grown in clusters, rather than the development being concentrated on one part. The skyline grows hand in hand with the 'landlines' (transportation infrastructure), reducing the strain on the urban ecosystem," said Mayekar of P&T Architects and Engineers.
Such a 'future-proof' approach augurs well for Dubai and the UAE's post-Expo success, he added.
Rajesh Jain, CEO of JG group, who was recently granted the 10-year visa, said: "The UAE residents are very tech-savvy and are open to adopting the latest innovations in every sector, with real estate being the backbone of the diversified economy.
Earlier residents have witnessed how DWTC, Emirates Towers and Burj Khalifa changed the cityscape. Now, it will be the Expo 2020 Dubai site."
"Expo will bring in a change that every resident is curious to experience."
Source: Khaleej Times
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