Expo 2020 Dubai inspired and mesmerized the world after the challenges of the pandemic. It provided a wealth of opportunities to the 192 participating countries, and continues today as a business and entertainment destination. Sholto Douglas-Home, Chief Sales & Marcomms Officer at Expo City Dubai shares the city’s plans with TRAVTALK.
How did Expo 2020 Dubai become Expo City Dubai?
Expo City Dubai is the pioneering legacy of Expo 2020 Dubai, which has been at the core of planning since 2013 when the UAE won the bid to host the World Expo. It builds on the World Expo’s success to create a clean, green, people-centric, innovation-driven city of the future—one that harnesses the collaborative spirit in a curated ecosystem for living, leisure, and business, with wellbeing, equality, and sustainability at its core.
Every aspect of the Expo 2020 Dubai Master Plan was designed with consideration to its afterlife and with a defined strategy for re-use. A 15-minute city, Expo City Dubai is a blueprint for how we can live and work in the future. It retains 80 per cent of Expo 2020’s built infrastructure, including many of Expo 2020 Dubai’s attractions, to create a comprehensive city featuring educational, cultural and entertainment offerings, offices, leisure, dining options, event venues, exercise grounds, among others. Expo City has recently announced new residential developments, beginning with the Mangrove Residences apartment complex, with units priced from AED 1.2 million. The result is a new, growing urban residential and business destination, a hub on the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan.
There are some pavilions that have reopened, what can you tell us about them?
Expo City Dubai carries forward the World Expo’s magic, energy, excitement and retains many of its flagship pavilions entertainment and technology offerings. An Attractions Pass grants access to all flagship pavilions, including Alif—The Mobility Pavilion, Terra—The Sustainability Pavilion, the Vision and Women’s Pavilions as well as three new stories of nations exhibitions, one each in the Opportunity, Mobility, and Sustainability Districts. Individual pavilion tickets are also available. Soon, visitors will also have the chance to revisit many country pavilions that are set to re-open.
Meanwhile, the Al Wasl Plaza welcomes visitors for immersive projections on its iconic dome, as well as the popular Surreal water feature. Like the rest of the Public Realm, Al Wasl and Surreal are free of charge. In addition, programmes such as Expo Live and the Expo School Programme live on in Expo City Dubai, continuing to support social innovators around the world and inspire the next generation.
Why was Expo City Dubai chosen to host the upcoming COP28?
As the host of the Expo 2020 Dubai, which brought the world together and welcomed more than 24 million visitors, Expo City Dubai has a proven track record in staging large, global events, while our continued commitment to sustainability across all programmes, guidelines and plans also factored into the decision to host COP28 at the Expo City Dubai.
The city offers world-class facilities and infrastructure, a secure, convenient location, and first-rate operational capabilities, while sharing similar objectives with COP28: achieving sustainability and enabling international action towards climate security. As a clean, green, innovation-driven, human-centric city of the future, we are proud to host this important global event.
Looking at the destination’s future and keeping in mind the sustainable approach, how does Expo City Dubai conform to all the strategies required to be ahead of the rest?
Expo 2020 Dubai was committed to delivering a mega-event sustainably—one that respected the environment and engaged the public on social and environmental issues, while presenting a vision of a sustainable future. This unwavering commitment continues, with the innovative sustainability techniques deployed at the World Expo laying the foundations for yet more progress at Expo City Dubai—a city designed as a blueprint for ‘green’ urban planning, galvanizing action on its journey to carbon neutrality. Among a range of pioneering sustainable characteristics, the city’s districts are car-free to improve safety and air quality, and it features 10-km cycling tracks, a 5-km running track and 45,000 square meters of parks and gardens.
The city’s sustainability plan aligns with UAE Centennial 2071 Plan, UAE Vision 2050, Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan, and the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and reflects the commitments of the national ‘Green Economy for Sustainable Development’ initiative.
Once COP28 is over, what will be the next goal and how will you promote it?
Expo City Dubai will continue to build a community where people from all backgrounds and organizations of all sizes connect, collaborate, and innovate towards a smarter, balanced, resilient, and sustainable way of life. This includes continuing to promote Expo City Dubai as a go-to destination for globally significant events, such as COP28, while building a wide and diverse calendar of programing that incorporates conferences, summits, meetings, exhibitions, workshops, tours, talks, sporting events and entertainment. It includes managing our commercial tenants, who we see as crucial partners in our long-term sustainable growth, and exciting new projects, such as the expansion of our residential developments. Our audience is wide and diverse—children, students, tourists, residents, entrepreneurs, multi-national businesses, and governments. We welcome all to experience everything Expo City Dubai has to offer, while taking our unique story to the world through connecting platforms such as the Arabian Travel Market.