Expo 2020: From Dubai to the world
Mattar Al-Tayer - Fri, Dec 16th 2016 12:00 AM
Since “The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations” — the first World Expo held in London in 1851 — it has become one of the largest and most important global events. World expositions are held every five years for six to 12 months, and attract millions of visitors who go to check out the pavilions and take part in cultural activities organized by governments and international organizations. The World Expo is considered the third-largest global event in terms of economic and cultural impact, after the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games.
Dubai will host World Expo 2020 under the theme “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” and its three sub themes: Sustainability, mobility and opportunity. In preparation for hosting Dubai Expo in four years, Dubai’s government is working to provide everything that will make visitors’ experiences unique and exciting.
Dubai was selected to host the World Expo — which will be held for the first time in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia — thanks to its strategic location and integrated infrastructure, which is capable of hosting this major international event.
According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) ranked first globally in quality of roads. The UAE also enjoys security and political stability, an attractive and stimulating environment for investors, and a track record in hosting major global events.
Hosting a World Expo requires an integrated, intelligent and efficient public-transport system, high-quality housing facilities and enough hotel rooms, a strategic location, and a scalable ultra-flexible supply chain. All these elements are either already available or are in an advanced stage of completion in Dubai, the prominent global hub for trade, finance, logistics, tourism and services.
Expo 2020 is expected to attract over 25 million visitors to Dubai, 70 percent of them from outside the UAE. Hosting this number of guests requires careful planning to facilitate movement of visitors.
As such, all government departments are working closely together to integrate their services and achieve the directives of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, to host the best World Expo ever in the emirate, and fulfil the aspirations of millions of people who expect Dubai to amaze the world as usual.
The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) in the emirate cooperates with all government departments in Dubai, as well as transportation agencies in the other emirates. The RTA has developed an integrated plan to facilitate access to the Expo 2020 site. The comprehensive and integrated plan includes road projects, flyovers and expanding mass transit.
The “Route 2020” project will extend the Dubai Metro Red Line from Nakheel Harbor & Tower station to the Expo 2020 site. The 15 km, seven-station extension project will cost AED10.6 billion ($2.9 billion). It will include a transfer station with the Red Line and a station at the Expo site.
Given the importance of environmental sustainability, which is one of the objectives of the World Expo, the RTA’s plan promotes using mass transit such as the metro, buses and taxis. Mass transit is expected to cover 51 percent of the total trips to and from the Expo site.
According to RTA research, 35,000 people are expected to use mass transit daily to reach the Expo on weekdays, and 47,000 on weekends. This is around 20 percent of the total expected number of visitors.
The RTA will build 18 bus stations for the Expo, and will provide 500 buses to serve visitors. It is also coordinating with the other emirates to dedicate bus stations for Expo visitors. Around 2,000 taxis will serve the exhibition, where dedicated stands and parking facilities will be provided for them.
The plan also includes building a network of roads and major intersections for easy access. This will be achieved via free multi-tier crossings to provide movement flexibility for all modes of transport that will serve the exhibition. The RTA is working on other projects to regulate movement of vehicles to and from Expo 2020.
These include the Enterprise Command and Control Center, which is a unified platform linking various control centers of the RTA’s operational agencies such as Dubai Metro, Dubai Tram, public transport, taxis and traffic systems control centers, with an integrated central control unit. The Integrated Mobility Platform will give customers easy access to all mass transit systems in Dubai using one smart app that will enable users to book the service and pay the fare.
Expo 2020 will be an opportunity to find solutions for current and future global challenges. It will be particularly challenging for the RTA, as it will prove to the world that Dubai is able to fulfil its promises. Emiratis will do this guided by a vision that paves the way for the golden jubilee celebrations of the union of the UAE in December 2021.
• Mattar Al-Tayer is director-general and chairman of the board of executive directors of the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).