Home / Progress report: Construction at Expo 2020 Dubai site

Progress report: Construction at Expo 2020 Dubai site

by Oscar Rousseau on Sep 5, 2018

Construction is steadily progressing at the Expo 2020 Dubai site in Dubai South [ ITP Images / Ajith Narendra].
Construction is steadily progressing at the Expo 2020 Dubai site in Dubai South [ ITP Images / Ajith Narendra].
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Expo 2020 Dubai's senior vice president of real estate and delivery, Ahmed Al Khatib, brings Construction Week up to speed on one of Dubai's most important projects in an exclusive interview.

Major construction work for Expo 2020 Dubai will be completed in October 2019, leaving plenty of time for testing and preparation before its doors open to the 21 million visitors that organisers expect will attend the six-month event.

The project is now at a crucial point in its construction timeline, with little more than a year to go until the complex building and infrastructural works need to be finished. With activity accelerating in preparation for the busiest period, Construction Week finds out how work on the 4.38km² site is progressing.

Ahmed Al Khatib, senior vice president of real estate and delivery at Expo 2020 Dubai, tells Construction Week that an “impressive pace of progress” has been maintained since early work on the project, located in Dubai South, began in 2015. He emphasises that “close collaboration” between all of the stakeholders on site has been vital to help “coordinate logistics and ensure that work continues according to [...] schedule”. This momentum is crucial as Dubai prepares to host the first-ever world fair in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia.

In terms of progress, construction is well advanced on the three Thematic Districts that form the core of the expo site. All three districts – named Mobility, Opportunity, and Sustainability, based on Expo 2020 Dubai’s sub-themes – will be connected by Al Wasl Plaza, the centrepiece of the site. Work has started on the erection of steelwork pieces that form the domed trellis of Al Wasl Plaza, after the parts arrived by ship from Italy, where they were cast by Cimolai.

READ: Construction details of Expo 2020 Dubai's German Pavilion revealed

Foundations and structural works are now complete within the three Thematic Districts. Moreover, all concrete works for the districts have been completed, with about 243,000m³ of concrete poured. Precast production and installation is now taking place, with façade, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing, and public-realm works also in progress. Khatib says the Phase 1 infrastructure package, which includes work for the Expo Village and the Dubai 2020 Metro Line, is almost complete: “Our Phase 2 infrastructural works will be completed in 2019.”

Both packages include building sewage lines, electricity cabling, telecommunications, fire systems, storm water drainage systems, a road network, and car parks. All three 132kV substations were completed earlier this year and are now live. The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) plants will generate and distribute power for the Expo 2020 site. Earlier this year, the authority revealed that the total construction cost for its three substations stood at $114m (AED420m).

Khatib says he is pleased with the pace of progress to date, adding that he expects activity to go up a gear in the next nine months. Project stakeholders will have to build upon and grow their respective site management strategies as more workers arrive to build the development. 

To date, more than 42 million work hours have been completed for the project, and there are approximately 20,000 workers on site now. The number of staff on the ground will double to 40,000 when building activity reaches its busiest period in the first half of 2019 – this headcount figure represents both manual and non-manual workers, including third-party stakeholders and building teams for the 100-plus international participants.

NEXT PAGE: Expo 2020 Dubai's sustainability KPIs and waste management strategy