UAE's Expo 2020 Dubai dream becomes a reality

Speaking at Leaders UAE 2018, Expo 2020 Dubai's Ahmed Al Khatib said the megaproject is noting steady development progress

Expo 2020 Dubai is making steady construction progress.
Expo 2020 Dubai is making steady construction progress.
Expo 2020 Dubai's Ahmed Al Khatib at Construction Week: Leaders in Construction Summit UAE 2018.
Expo 2020 Dubai's Ahmed Al Khatib at Construction Week: Leaders in Construction Summit UAE 2018.

With Expo 2020 Dubai just over two years away from opening its doors, Ahmed Al Khatib, vice president of real estate and delivery at the megaproject's organising team, gave the audience at the Construction Week: Leaders in Construction Summit UAE 2018 an update on progress.

All major construction on the development is set to finish in October 2019, leaving a full year to test and operate before the site opens its doors to the world the following year on 20 October, 2020. Al Khatib said: “It is really happening right now – Expo 2020 Dubai is no longer just an idea or a promise, it is a reality.”

Phase 2 construction is under way and due for completion before the end of 2018, he told the audience, noting that the project’s metro station is also “starting to take shape”, with the viaduct having already been completed.

“Steel production is going on at a very fast pace for Al Wasl Plaza,” he added, explaining that some steel parts for the iconic structure were also being erected on site.

The Middle East arm of Cimolai Rimond – an Abu Dhabi-based joint venture of Italian firms Cimolai, a structural steelmaker and contractor, and construction contractor Rimond – was awarded the contract to build Al Wasl’s steel structure in November 2017.

More generally, construction work is well advanced on the three Thematic Districts that form the core of the expo site, with foundations and structural works now complete within these areas. All concrete works for the Thematic Districts have also now been completed, with about 243,000m3 of concrete having been poured. Precast production and installation is now taking place, and façade; mechanical, electrical, and plumbing; and public-realm works are also in progress.

UAE-based companies are playing an important role in the construction efforts. Contractors including AF Construction, Arabtec, ALEC, ASGC, Besix, Khansaheb, and Tristar Engineering are all involved in the scheme. Al Naboodah Construction has completed early works for the project, and it is also working on the car parks and associated roads, in addition to civil defence and emergency response buildings. Other notable names involved with the development include Emaar Properties, Meraas, Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority, and China State Construction Engineering Corporation Middle East, as well as many other local and international players.

Al Khatib discussed Expo 2020’s Sustainability Pavilion, the net-zero energy superstructure that sits on a 29,000m2 site with a floor area of 17,000m2.

“We are building this pavilion to encourage a new way of thinking about design – to offer an architectural experience that retains its relevance long past the opening,” he explained.

“We have reduced the demand of resources, embraced efficient technologies, and placed an emphasis on renewable energies – all of which means we can announce with pride that this pavilion is entirely self-sustaining.”

READ: Germany reveals design for high-tech Expo 2020 pavilion

Contracting firm ASGC won the contract to work on the Sustainability Pavillion.  Dubai developer Emaar is managing the delivery of the project, which will see solar panels produce around 4GWh of electricity a year, with surplus power to be fed into the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) grid.

This drive for sustainability ties in with Expo 2020’s goal for 85% of all construction waste to be segmented, allowing surplus materials to be treated and diverted away from landfill, as Al Khatib also mentioned in his keynote speech at the summit. This target is higher than the UAE Vision 2021 goal of diverting 75% of solid municipal waste away from landfill.

The asphalt mix used to surface 30,000 under-construction car park spaces – which will be completed in the second quarter of 2019 – was reformulated as part of the expo’s sustainability drive. Around a fifth of the mixture used to manufacture asphalt for the road that Al Naboodah Construction is building on site comes from recycled tyres.

"We also have sustainable material guidelines [for] Expo 2020 projects – these were provided to all contractors and consultants,” added Al Khatib.

“This ensures our sustainability commitments are achieved. For example, 50% of the energy that will be consumed on site will be coming from renewable [sources]. We are 25% below the Dewa baseline for water consumed in buildings.”

Al Khatib explained that the commitment of Expo 2020 to sustainability targets was vital to ensuring a long-term impact that goes “beyond the site”, leaving a “sustainable legacy far beyond the time the expo closes its doors”.

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