Expo could turn Dubai into world class city

Bechtel's David Welch says emirate has historic opportunity to match likes of London and New York

Experts discuss the potential Dubai 2020 has on the emirate's future growth.
Experts discuss the potential Dubai 2020 has on the emirate's future growth.

Dubai has a “historic opportunity” from hosting Expo 2020 to become a truly world class city.

David Welch, regional president EMEA at Bechtel, said that the emirate can “aspire to global status of the kind that London and New York enjoy”, during a panel discussion at the Cinstruction Week UAE Infrastructure Summit in Dubai today (Wednesday).

Welch said that Dubai has the opportunity to develop quality infrastructure along the lines of what is currently being built in London with Crossrail – a railway link between the city's west and east districts – three years on from it hosting the Olympic Games.

“40 years ago if you had travelled between Abu Dhabi and Dubai it would have been a two lane road... today you have Al Maktoum International Airport, you have Jebel Ali, Khalifa Port Industrial Zone. One can envisage 40 years from now or 20 years after Expo 2020 you'll have exactly the same kind of new transportation having come in.”

Bishoy Azmy, chief executive officer, Al Shafar General Contracting, said work related to Expo 2020 has as yet “not percolated down to us as contractors”.

“Business is good but we have not been working on Expo 2020,” he added.

However, Riad Nashif, executive vice president and managing director (UAE and Oman) at Aecom, said the majority of Expo-related work was currently at the design stage.

“The majority of work from Expo 2020 will be spin off and support services for Expo 2020,” Nashif said. “The Expo will be a catalyst for growth in transport infrastructure, real estate and residential infrastructure. Most of them are in the design stage.”

Azmy said that Dubai would feel the true benefit of Expo 2020 only several years after the event has passed.

“I asked this question to government officials at the time of the bid,” he said. “They said it will be three to four years for the full economic effect will be felt by the city.”

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