Expo 2020 Dubai Updates Market on Strong Progress in Preparation for the Region’s First Mega-Event

Monday 26 September 2016

Dubai - MENA Herald: Expo 2020 Dubai today released an operational update. It provides a detailed overview of its activities to date in the lead-up to the first mega-event of its kind in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia (MEASA) region.

Progress is underway in three key areas:
Site development and preparation
Engagement with organisations and individuals to build a global Collaborative platform
Commercial partnerships and outreach to potential participants

Operational Highlights

Site development:
Initial development of the 4.38 square kilometre site in the Dubai South district began in September 2015. To date, more than 4.7 million cubic metres of earth has been recycled and moved in preparation for the construction phase
In May 2016, Expo 2020 Dubai revealed its Master Plan at the Arab Media Forum

Collaborative platform:
11 editions of BusinessConnect events starting in September 2015 that have brought 826 businesses in contact with Expo 2020 Dubai to discuss delivering an exceptional experience and meaningful legacy, as well as areas of collaboration. There have been a total of 18 BusinessConnect sessions covering 11 different topics so far and through this and other events, conferences and forums, the Engagement team has liaised with more than 2,000 business representatives
Several Engagement initiatives have been launched in line with the UAE’s Youth Empowerment Strategy and the National Youth Strategy, including YouthConnect in November 2015 and the Apprenticeship Programme in April 2016, both aimed to address youth career development in the UAE. The first YouthConnect event attracted a total attendance of 800.
The official Expo 2020 Dubai logo was unveiled at a public launch ceremony on 28 March 2016 led by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai
Approximately 250 attendees representing 132 countries convened for the inaugural International Planning Meeting in May 2016 to discuss participation in Expo 2020
Expo Live is a 100 million euro programme which aims to create and accelerate the development and deployment of new solutions that encapsulate the spirit of Expo 2020 Dubai’s overarching theme, Connecting Minds, Creating the Future, and its three sub-theme areas of Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability
400 business representatives gathered at the Collaborative Entrepreneurship Summit in May 2016 to identify opportunities for collaborative growth and synergies among established corporations, multinationals, and startups
The Expo 2020 Dubai team has 140 employees, with an approximate 50-50 gender split. Two-thirds are under the age of 40 years

Commercial partnerships:
Three Premier Partnerships, worth several hundred million dollars, have been announced to date including Emirates Airline in May 2016, and Etisalat and DP World in June 2016
Procurement is well underway. So far, more than 8,000 local and international companies have registered on Expo 2020 Dubai’s procurement portal. The total value of all contracts and purchase orders to date is circa AED 1.95 billion
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) make up more than 3,100 of businesses registered on the portal. Of the orders to date, 320 have been awarded to SMEs. 20% of the Expo’s total direct and indirect spend, representing more than AED 5 billion in contracts, will be allocated to SMEs, both local and international

The broad outline of activity leading up to the opening of Expo 2020 Dubai is:

The Content Master Plan has been completed and strategy is being further developed to ensure a strong thematic and cultural impact of Expo 2020, promoting and demonstrating UAE thought leadership and cultural depth.
The site is being prepared for construction and designs will be finalised, including for the signature pavilions. Outreach to participating nations is currently taking place.
Engagement programmes such as Business Connect and Youth Connect are being rolled out, and the first initiative under the Expo Live programme has been launched.

2017 - 2018:
The Expo team will carry out active engagement with participating nations, while initiatives around youth and business engagement will progress. The team will also continue to reach out across the cultural landscape, including with the creative community, to generate excitement and make the connection between the mega-event and its cultural significance.
The main construction will take place and participants will build their pavilions on site.

2019 - 2020:
The site will be handed over to test Event Operations and a series of events will be held in preparation for the Expo.

On 20 October, the mega-event opens.

On 10 April, the mega-event closes, followed by a transition to the legacy phase.

In Depth - Operational Update

Site development

The development of the Expo 2020 Dubai site, located in the Dubai South district, reflects the mega-event’s theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, as well as the sub-themes of Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability. The structures will meet the needs of a range of stakeholders, including the participant nations, businesses, NGOs and the 25 million visitors expected during the mega-event. Sustainability and legacy are important design principles, and more than 80% of the site is to be reused or repurposed in the legacy phase. To date, 98% of the waste on site has been recycled and used in construction, as opposed to being sent to a landfill.

A Master Plan for the Expo

In May 2016, Expo 2020 Dubai revealed its Master Plan at the Arab Media Forum, featuring the following:
The redistribution of the visitor entrances - the reviewed Master Plan now has four major entrances across the site;
The redistribution and allocation of pavilion plots;
An increase in the visitor parking capacity.

The refined Master Plan has three operational modes:
Base-Build Phase (up until 2019): The completion of construction activities and the initial handover of the project to Expo 2020
Expo Phase (2019-2021): When Expo 2020 will have full control for the Expo event preparations and public participation. This phase will include overlay construction
Transformation and Legacy Phase (2022 onwards): This is the final operational phase of the project, when the site will transform into part of the thriving district of Dubai South

The Expo site is centred around Al Wasl Plaza, the figurative and literal heart of Expo 2020 Dubai. Spreading outwards from Al Wasl will be three Theme Districts (Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability).

Pavilions and their iconic architecture are central to World Expos. Thirteen of the world’s leading architectural firms took part in a global competition, which was launched in July 2015 by Emaar on behalf of Expo 2020 Dubai, to seek the designs for the Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability pavilions that will bring to life Expo 2020’s core sub-themes.


Early works on the 4.38 square kilometre site in the Dubai South district began in September 2015. To date, more than 4.7 million cubic metres of earth has been moved ahead of the main construction phase - enough sand to fill about 1,800 Olympic swimming pools.

The infrastructure packaging procurement strategy is designed to support broader construction development activity on site.

The first infrastructure package, which is one of four packages totalling AED 1.3 billion, is due to commence shortly and will be completed by April 2018. It involves early works to support the development of the Expo Village where participants will reside during the period of the Expo. Other elements include systems for sewage, water, electricity and telecom cabling.

The second package will go to tender shortly and will include the deep infrastructure for the gated area of the site. The third and final infrastructure package will include the surface road network.

The design phase for aspects including the public realm, specialist site-wide elements, and the three Thematic Districts is well underway – an effort led by a team of both international and local consultants. In addition, major procurement packages will be awarded in 2016 to support the development of the Exhibition Centre and Shade Structure.

Ongoing planning and procurement of the construction and site-wide logistics continues to ensure the site will be ready for participants to begin work on their respective pavilions beginning in April 2018.

All infrastructure work will be completed by October 2019.

“The Expo 2020 Dubai site has been designed to deliver a memorable experience for all visitors that will embark on a journey of discovery and leave them inspired to contribute to the common vision of our shared future. Work on the site is progressing well as per our schedule.” – Ahmed Al Khatib, Vice President of Real Estate for Expo 2020 Dubai (May 2016)

Operations and Visitor Experience

The principal focus of the Event Operations team is the design of the services required to put on a successful Expo for 25 million visitors and more than 200 potential participant countries, companies and NGOs. Work has been conducted to identify and analyse ‘guest journey scenarios’, in order to identify key touch points and the operational requirements involved. This forms the basis of the Expo site operations plan, which is currently being developed.

Site Legacy Planning

The future use and enduring legacy of the site has been an important consideration in the design and construction efforts. After the mega-event itself comes to a close, there is a comprehensive strategy in place to transition the Expo site into an economically attractive and sustainable ecosystem. There are further, less tangible elements to Legacy Planning that include knowledge-creation, youth empowerment, global and political reputation and social and perception change.

Strategy for the Physical Legacy involved detailed research and analysis on future trends, and the identification of drivers of industry growth. Social development analysis also took place to identify the type of commercial and social organisations that could be located on the site, in addition to real estate demand analysis to determine the site requirements. Extensive benchmarking of past mega-events was conducted in order to gather insights and explore different approaches related to Legacy planning. The main objective of the site will be to bring together large corporates, Small Medium Enterprises (SME) and social institutions in a holistic ecosystem, that would enable multiple solutions across industries and provide strong value-add by combining the identified technology concepts.

The site buildings and infrastructure will be transitioned into a combination of commercial, social, educational, hospitality and residential development, creating a destination that will serve to carry on the spirit of the Expo and continue to inspire businesses, entrepreneurs, youth, residents and visitors to connect, explore synergies and innovate.

Collaborative Platform

Our theme – ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ – is based on a simple insight: generating sustainable solutions to global problems demands collaboration across cultures, nations and regions.

Collaboration is a key part of what the Expo 2020 Dubai’s teams do. Their activities span an array of significant initiatives, events, and programmes. Expo has engaged with a cross-section of important audiences including multinational businesses, entrepreneurs and startups, government officials and multilateral organisations, as well as young people across the region.

Expo Live

Expo Live is a 100 million Euro grant programme, which was announced in May 2016 at the International Planning Meeting (IPM) in the presence of approximately 250 representatives from 132 countries.

The programme aims to create and accelerate the development and deployment of new solutions in the areas of Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability. This supports the theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ through enabling problem-solvers from around the world to come together to address social, economic and environmental issues.

Expo Live will provide global applicants with a series of large and small grants to be awarded over the next four years, including the ‘2016 Innovation Impact Grants’, the first in a series of global grants available, which will range from EUR 50,000 to 2 million per project.

The 2016 Innovation Impact Grants will focus on projects in Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability. In mobility, grants aim to create smarter and more productive movement of people, goods and ideas through addressing issues in transportation, travel and exploration, personal mobility, logistics and digital connectivity. In opportunity, grants aim to unlock potential within individuals and communities through addressing issues in education, employment, new industries, financial capital, and governance. Lastly, in sustainability, grants aim to promote living in balance with our planet through addressing issues around natural ecosystems and biodiversity, resources, sustainable cities and built habitats, climate change and green growth.

The programme is in its current ‘Call for Proposals’ stage until 30 September 2016, and is now open to all problem-solvers, inventors and innovators, social enterprises; small entrepreneurs; universities, research or educational bodies; not-for-profit foundations; private companies or public-private partnerships; government institutions or public associations; non-governmental organizations; community-based or grassroots groups.

Engagement Initiatives

Expo 2020 Dubai has hosted, or taken part in, more than 30 events in the past eight months and engaged with more than 2,000 business representatives. These ranged in scale from large milestone events such as the International Planning Meeting that was attended by approximately 250 local and international guests, through to 20 university visits to raise awareness of Expo activities.

Initiatives include:

BusinessConnect: This initiative launched in April 2015, with the aim of engaging the business community in the Expo 2020 Dubai journey in the spirit of the theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’. Each session in the series is focused on a specific aspect of Expo and is in the format of an open dialogue with local, regional and international businesses. The series aims to engage the business community in dialogue and shift the traditional model of procurement to one based more on the value of collaboration.

The first BusinessConnect session, in September 2015, was opened by Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General Bureau Expo 2020 Dubai, and was used to emphasise Expo 2020 Dubai’s commitment to open and transparent procurement.

There have been eleven editions of BusinessConnect to date, spanning a range of themes including Technology and Innovation, Architecture & Design, Youth and Edutainment. They have been attended by some of the leading business minds from wide spectrum of industries, with more than 800 business representatives attending sessions so far.

“BusinessConnect sets a new model in connecting with businesses by facilitating a dialogue, the exchange of ideas, the sharing of relevant expertise, and enabling the development of recommendations to find and deliver the best solutions. From startups to corporates, local and international, engaging the business community at an early stage is fundamental to the success of hosting a mega-event of this scale and scope.” – Manal AlBayat, Vice President of Engagement for Expo 2020 Dubai (May 2016)

YouthConnect: In November 2015, Expo 2020 launched YouthConnect, an annual event, designed by youth for youth with the objective of inspiring and instilling confidence in individuals between the ages of 16 and 25. The inaugural event attracted a total of 800 attendees. Sessions were led by individuals from some of the UAE and the world’s most successful organisations and individuals including: The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), The Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Awards (HIPA), Facebook, New York University Abu Dhabi, AstroLabs, SALT, Mohammad Saeed Harib, and Adeeb Al Balooshi. By introducing the elements of partnership and collaboration, network building, science-in-action, creative design, skills development, career coaching and cultural exchange, the YouthConnect event embodied the Expo 2020 theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’. The next YouthConnect, which will take place in November 2016, will be open to residents of the GCC.

“From our earliest days conceiving Expo 2020 Dubai, we were determined to put our youth at the heart of our plans. It is these young men and women who will be representing and leading our nation in the years to come. So it is important that they contribute to these events and decide what they want to see and do on the day.” - Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General Bureau Expo 2020 Dubai (October 2015)

The Apprenticeship Programme: This is a pioneering nine-month scheme that will offer valuable hands-on experience, vocational training and skills development to 27 young people from across the UAE aged 28 years and below.

Following its launch in April 2016, the programme attracted in excess of 2,700 applications, reflecting the high level of interest in Expo 2020 amongst the nation’s young people. From these, 150 candidates were invited to a series of innovation assessment selection workshops at the Expo site in the Dubai South district. On 30 August 2016, selected apprentices will join a nine-month programme to learn directly from industry experts leading the delivery of Expo 2020 Dubai and will benefit from ongoing mentorship and networking opportunities. During the programme, apprentices will engage in skill-building activities, applied business challenges, and receive support to deliver a capstone project.

In August 2016, Expo 2020 Dubai joined with the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award (HIPA) to launch a photography competition for young people across the GCC, aged 16-25. The competition will run until 30 September 2016, with the winners announced at the 2016 edition of YouthConnect, to be held in Dubai in November 2106. The three entry categories match Expo 2020 Dubai’s subthemes: Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability.

“The Apprenticeship Programme is an important part of our commitment to engage and empower young people through our journey leading up to Expo 2020 Dubai. We were heartened to see such a high demand from a diverse group of applicants and particularly impressed by the high quality of applications received. The feedback from candidates that have taken part at the various stages of this process demonstrates the value of this experience. Those that are selected for the programme will develop useful competencies for their future career development, and will be important contributors to Expo 2020 Dubai’s educational and economic legacy. We are all looking forward to welcoming the first cohort later this year.” – Manal AlBayat, Vice President of Engagement (April 2016)

University Roadshows: Over the past year, Expo 2020 Dubai has continued its University Roadshow series. There have been a total of 20 roadshow events, seven of which took place in April 2016. They have been attended by a total of approximately 3,000 students. Additionally, many international universities that have visited Dubai have been hosted by the Expo team to generate international awareness. The objective was to promote understanding of the mega-event and its vision for development, as well as to mobilise students and faculty members to engage with the mega-event’s various programmes and initiatives. There are further university roadshows planned for 2016.

“Expo 2020 Dubai is very pleased to host some of our nation’s brightest young people, and inspire them to imagine what is possible when people come together under a shared vision for a better future. These young men and women represent our future, and we are determined to put our youth at the heart of our plans. These university roadshows are an integral part of a wide range of programmes we have launched to engage youth. We are grateful to collaborate with key partners, to facilitate a better understanding of Expo 2020 Dubai and raise awareness among diverse communities about how they can be a part of this important nationwide initiative.” - Manal AlBayat, Vice President of Engagement at Expo 2020 Dubai (May 2016)
With 65% of the population of the Middle East under the age of 25, young people will play a significant role in the future of the region. Expo initiatives such as YouthConnect, the Apprenticeship Programme and the university roadshow series understand the importance of youth empowerment. Taken together, these programmes embody the theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ and provide opportunities for young people to reach their potential as future leaders.

Collaborative Entrepreneurship

Expo 2020 Dubai is working to deliver a first-of-its-kind effort in the Gulf region to nurture synergies between established corporations and startups. Collaborative Entrepreneurship seeks to unleash value through collaborative opportunities, making a positive economic impact and forming part of Expo 2020 Dubai’s legacy.

In May 2016, more than 400 regional business representatives gathered at the Collaborative Entrepreneurship Summit. The attendees included 181 startups, 89 corporates and 63 entrepreneurship ecosystem supporters, as well as multinationals and government entities. It provided the attendees with the opportunity to explore how Collaborative Entrepreneurship works, as well as enabling participants to network with one-another.

The second phase of Collaborative Entrepreneurship will see SMEs working with governmental bodies.

In addition to the Summit, Expo 2020 and Wamda have launched a Collaborative Entrepreneurship website (http://coentrepreneurship.com/) and a tool-kit for corporates to assist participation in the initiative.

“Today, we aim to create dozens of new networking opportunities between corporate executives and startups, and to gain a clear understanding of how Collaborative Entrepreneurship can help scale-up smaller businesses and re-energise and ‘re-innovate’ larger ones. By bringing the concept of Collaborative Entrepreneurship to the region, we are clearly demonstrating just how powerful Expo 2020 Dubai can be in convening diverse audiences to tackle the challenges of tomorrow.” – Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General, Bureau Expo Dubai 2020 (May 2016)

“The MENA region is home to an entrepreneurship movement that is paving the way for diverse, oil-independent economic development; making it an important driver for job creation and youth empowerment. This Summit is a chance to initiate collaboration and spark mutually beneficial relationships. By serving as a platform to nurture meaningful collaborations between people and organisations, Expo aims to generate new opportunities that will create a legacy that lasts well beyond 2020.” - Marjan Faraidooni, Vice President of Legacy at Expo 2020 Dubai (May 2016)

"Startups are leaders in innovation and are taking on some of the region’s greatest challenges. Many large corporations are only beginning to grapple with the rising influence of these agile businesses. Startups can leverage the resources of large companies to scale rapidly, and large companies can tap the innovative potential and flexibility of startups to obtain access to new markets and technologies, as well as skills.” - Habib Haddad, Wamda’s Cofounder and Chief Executive Officer (April 2016)

International Engagement

Expo 2020 Dubai’s theme of 'Connecting Minds, Creating the Future' is a platform for international thought, leadership and progress. In today’s interconnected world, a renewed vision of progress and development based on shared purpose and commitment is important, and collaboration in an international context is key.

Significant progress has been made in realising the Expo 2020 vision, including the following:

Switzerland Signing: In April 2016, Switzerland became the first country to officially sign up for Expo 2020 Dubai, citing the economic and political significance of the host country and the geopolitical weight of the Gulf region as the key reasons behind its participation. The Swiss Federal Council also agreed to a budget of AED 57 million ($15.5 million) to build the Swiss Pavilion on the Expo 2020 Dubai site.

“Expo 2020 Dubai will be an international focal point where people and countries will come together to celebrate human ingenuity, and our shared ability to build a better future. We are delighted that the Swiss government has committed to participate, over four years ahead of the start of the Expo. The decision is an important reflection of the international role played by the UAE, and the significance of Expo 2020.” – His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Expo 2020 Dubai Higher Committee and Chairman of Dubai Airports and Emirates Airline (April 2016)

“Switzerland and the UAE are both countries that thrive on connecting others, through travel and trade. Participating in Expo 2020 Dubai is also of great interest to Swiss companies and the tourism sector given the region's economic potential. Because of this, we are excited to be the first country to agree to take part in Expo 2020. We share Expo’s belief in connecting minds in order to create the future, and look forward to working closely with the organisers to contribute to a spectacular event that leaves a meaningful and long-lasting legacy both here in the UAE and at home in Switzerland.” – Her Excellency Maya Tissafi, Switzerland’s Ambassador to the UAE (April 2016)

International Planning Meeting: The theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ and Master Plan for the global mega-event were explored at Expo 2020 Dubai’s International Planning Meeting (IPM) that took place on 23-24 May 2016, at which 250 senior representatives from 132 countries around the world attended to learn about the benefits of participation, the preparations underway, and the long-term legacy plans. The event also included a detailed discussion of Expo 2020 Dubai’s Master Plan, the overarching theme and three sub-themes, and the visitor journey. Business opportunities in the UAE for innovation, trade and investment, and knowledge transfer were also presented. The IPM marks the first in a series of meetings to be held with international participants leading up to the mega-event.

“We intend to make Expo 2020 Dubai the most inclusive World Expo ever staged. Collaboration has shaped our theme and every single nation here has valuable insights and experiences to offer the world. We need to hear them, our tens of millions of visitors will need to see and understand them. Expo is a tool, a powerful live vehicle for communicating the best of what your nation has to offer. To have the Pacific Islands, to have Scandinavia, to have Western Europe, to have the Americas, to have Africa all coming together talking about what their aspirations for Expo 2020 can be, and how they would want to play an integral part in it, is a true and remarkable privilege.” – Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General Bureau Expo Dubai 2020 (May 2016)

“The international representatives here at Expo 2020 Dubai’s IPM meeting were impressed by the plans they saw, and the level of integration and cooperation across the many government bodies involved in the delivery of a project of this scale. The potential participants also now have a clear sense of the organiser’s vision for this Expo to be a truly international platform for collaboration, with a global legacy benefits each participant nation.” - His Excellency Vicente G. Loscertales, the Secretary General of the BIE (May 2016)

“What I just saw, in the initial presentation on Expo, was frankly dazzling. It was magical and it makes me want to be a part of it.” - Her Excellency Barbara A. Leaf, the United States Ambassador to the UAE (May 2016)

“Words are not enough to describe what I saw today. It is extremely impressive and warmest congratulations to His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed, Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy and the whole team. This is professional work, with great inspiration, and I think that if the [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="yes" overflow="visible"][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="no" center_content="no" min_height="none"][national] capitals see the videos we just saw, no one would like to be absent from this great event. I wish congratulations to Expo 2020 and I’m certain it will be the best ever Expo we have witnessed.” - His Excellency Dionyssios Zois, Ambassador of Greece (May 2016)

Bureau Expo Dubai 2020

The Bureau Expo Dubai 2020 has been working closely with government officials at the federal and emirate level to keep them fully apprised of all Expo-related developments and initiatives. To date, the Bureau has held approximately 50 meetings with government officials to raise awareness for Expo 2020 Dubai across relevant government departments and to discuss areas for collaboration.

The Bureau Expo Dubai 2020 Bureau was established in 2014 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. The decree by His Highness declared the Bureau responsible for the delivery of the mega-event. Within the Bureau, ‘Expo 2020 Dubai LLC’ is involved in developing the site and running all operations. Meanwhile ‘Expo Volunteers’ is tasked with building relationships with third parties such as the expected 30,000 volunteers that will help to run Expo.

A total of 16 Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) have been signed between Expo 2020 Dubai and other organisations, to increase the impact of the mega-event and its legacy. In June 2016, an MoU was signed with Dubai SME and Tejari, to allow SMEs that are registered with these organisations to be positioned to submit proposals for the billions of dirhams of contracts that Expo 2020 will be putting out in the coming years.

In addition to the Bureau’s involvement in the delivery and operations of the mega-event, it also acts as a liaison with the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) – the governing body for World Expos – to keep it abreast of the preparations. Two meetings have been held with the BIE during this period, including a technical visit to the site in April, and the most recent BIE Executive Committee meeting in Paris in June 2016. Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General, Bureau Expo Dubai 2020, spoke at the Assembly, updating the 169 member countries on the event’s progress. Expo will hold ongoing meetings with the BIE including the next General Assembly in November 2017.

“This is the first BIE technical visit since Dubai formally became host city for Expo 2020, and it marks another milestone on our Expo journey. Our progress is accelerating. Next month we will be hosting delegates from the many nations that we hope will participate in Expo 2020, and we will begin building infrastructure later this year. We continue to engage with the local community through our BusinessConnect series, as well as a range of cultural and youth initiatives.” – Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General, Bureau Expo Dubai 2020, (April 2016)

“We are on track to deliver an exceptional Expo that will truly connect people around the world, where they can come and experience ideas and innovations that will define the next fifty years. We are delighted to share the progress we are making with representatives from the BIE.” - His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Expo 2020 Dubai Higher Committee and Chairman of Dubai Airports and Emirates Airline (April 2016)

“The breadth of vision and scale of ambition Dubai displayed was crucial to winning the right to host this event. It’s wonderful to have been able to stand on the ground, with the organisers, and see things taking shape. The plans that have been put in place, and the progress being made in delivering them are impressive.” - Vicente Gonzalez Loscertales, BIE Secretary General BIE (April 2016)

By hosting Expo 2020 Dubai, and with the participation of more than 200 countries, companies and NGOs the event will be an ideal platform for institutions that have worked and are working on the development of the UAE from different levels, through connected minds in order to enhance the positioning of the UAE, and to ensure a continuous progress.” – Najeeb Al Ali, Executive Director Bureau Expo 2020 Dubai (July 2016)

Building a World-Class Team

Expo 2020 Dubai has assembled a talented team of world-class individuals from the UAE and across the globe to work together towards realising the vision of the mega-event, in line with the theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’.

There are currently 140 employees:
In keeping with the future-looking vision of the mega-event and its commitment to empowering younger generations, nearly two-thirds these employees are younger than 40 years and will gain valuable experience that will help in their future careers
There is an approximate 50-50 gender split, in line with the inclusive spirit of the mega-event

There are a further 136 Project Management Consultancy (PMC) staff, making the size of the current Expo team 276 (excluding contractors).

The Human Resources (HR) team has launched the Expo 2020 Careers Website and has implemented an Applicant Tracking System to streamline the job matching process.

New employees benefit from an Induction Programme and Buddy System. A Wellness Programme has also been implemented, with the objective of improving the wellbeing, health and working environment of staff.

During the past eight months, the HR team has overseen nine training initiatives for Expo staff, including career development training that will help individuals with their future job prospects, contributing to the mega-event’s educational legacy. Six training sessions have been held to date, and the focus has been on developing individuals’ capacity to meet operational requirements. Training has been organised into three phases named Ready, Steady and Go, that support each individual in the delivery of their objectives.

The Expo team participated in Careers UAE as part of their drive to recruit high-calibre talent. Expo’s Emiratisation Strategy aims to hire and develop UAE national talent, and build a new ‘mega-event’ skill set within the UAE national workforce.

Cultural Interactions

Expo’s Culture team has led a number of important initiatives over the past eight months. These have included idea-sharing and brainstorming sessions with UAE artists, creatives and historians about the role of culture in the mega-event. Expo has also sought views from local experts about their aspirations for the broader vision of Expo 2020 Dubai.

In March 2016, the Culture department participated in Dubai’s Art Season. At the SIKKA Art Fair, Expo collaborated in a gallery-style exhibition showcasing 21 sculptures, designed by leading global, regional and local talent and were conceptualised to express the essence of Expo 2020 Dubai and its three sub-themes. Expo 2020 Dubai’s Culture team also participated at the Art Dubai exhibition with a photography exhibit entitled ‘Of Clouds and Clocks’, which showcased photographs of Expo theme-inspired scenery.


The realisation of the vision of Expo 2020 Dubai is facilitated by drawing from the knowledge and expertise of a range of stakeholders, in keeping with the mega-event’s theme of ‘Connecting Minds Creating the Future’. Expo 2020 Dubai has made progress in the important commercial elements of this process including the signing of partnerships, developing Expo 2020 Dubai’s brand strategy, and engaging with potential participants.


Building engagements and partnerships are at the heart of Expo 2020’s mission. Expo 2020 Dubai continues to focus on world-class event delivery and is continuing to partner with leading firms to prepare, build and operate the first mega-event of its kind in the region.

More than 8,000 local and international companies have registered on Expo 2020 Dubai’s dedicated eSourcing procurement portal since its launch in April 2015.

The total value of all contracts and purchase orders to date is circa AED 1.95 billion. International companies and SMEs continue to be encouraged to register through international trade delegations, supplier engagement events, and publication of the registration guidelines and opportunities.

Countries outside the UAE that have so far been most actively engaged on the portal include the United Kingdom, Italy, Portugal, the United States and India.

The scale and complexity of a global mega-event means that the services these contractors bring will contribute to the success of the event. These procurement partnerships will leave behind a legacy of skills and expertise that will contribute to the UAE’s ongoing economic diversification – part of Expo 2020 Dubai’s planned legacy.

Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs)

In June 2016, Expo 2020 Dubai, Dubai SME, and strategic procurement company Tejari signed a strategic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to broaden access for thousands of SMEs in the emirate to tender opportunities. The agreement was aimed at boosting SMEs’ ability to be part of Expo 2020 Dubai, in line with the UAE’s strategy to increase the contribution of SMEs to the non-oil GDP within the broader Dubai 2021 Vision.

More than 3,100 SMEs are registered on the eSourcing procurement portal and have been awarded 320 orders to date.

In August 2016, Expo 2020 Dubai announced that 20% of its total direct and indirect spend, representing more than AED 5 billion in contracts, will be allocated to SMEs, both local and international. At the same time, the procurement process was modified to allow SMEs to bid more competitively, including a proposal validity of 60 days, no tender bonds required, no advanced payment guarantee required, 50% advanced payment for goods/materials, 25% advanced payment for services, and a commitment to 30 days’ payment from receipt of an approved invoice.

Brand and Visual Identity

An important part of the identity of the Expo is the official logo, which was unveiled to the public in March 2016 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. The launch event, at the Burj Khalifa, drew a crowd in the tens of thousands.

The official logo replaced the bid logo as Expo 2020 moved past the bid phase to the execution phase. Expo 2020 Dubai’s visual identity will have a real and lasting value not just as a symbol for mega-event itself, but for its stakeholders and partners as well. The new logo holds commercial value for Expo 2020 Dubai, particularly across tiers of partnerships and associations. Expo will work to ensure the appropriate use of the brand and restrict unofficial use. This will protect and preserve the equity and commercial value of being associated with Expo 2020 Dubai and ensure a lasting legacy for the partners’ investment.

“The new logo was launched to institute the commercial value of Expo 2020 Dubai, particularly across all tiers of partnerships and associations. By taking this step early on to register and protect the Expo 2020 Dubai trademark, it will safeguard any possible copyright and trademark infringements under the United Arab Federal Law No. 37 of 1992 and executive regulations promulgated hereunder.”- Najeeb Al Ali, Executive Direction Bureau Expo 2020 Dubai (June 2016)

Commercial Partnerships

Expo 2020 Dubai’s Partnership Programme benefits participating companies with global brand exposure, while connecting with the more than 25 million visitors that Expo 2020 Dubai is expected to attract. Expo 2020 Dubai’s Partnership Programme offers three tiers of partnerships: Premier Partners, Official Partners and Official Providers.

There will be a maximum of 12 Premier Partners, who will have access to exclusive rights and benefits with Expo 2020 Dubai, including the ability to use the Expo 2020 Dubai logo, licensing and merchandising rights and the chance to be involved in Expo’s communication and promotional activities. Expo organisers are seeking to recruit up to 15 Official Partners over the next year, and the Official Providers programme will launch in 2018.

Expo 2020 Dubai’s aspiration is for all Partnerships to facilitate commercial activities that reflect the organisation’s overarching theme of ‘Connecting Minds Creating the Future’ and three sub-themes of Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability. These partner organisations will play an integral role in connecting Expo 2020 with global participants, visitors and other international stakeholders, and will ensure the transformative legacy of the mega-event, the first for the MEASA region.

Three Premier Partnerships have been announced to date and Expo 2020 Dubai is delighted to have the active support of these leading UAE companies, which have grown to become global brands:

Emirates Airline: In May 2016, Expo 2020 Dubai announced Emirates Airline as its Official Airline Partner. As Expo 2020’s first Premier Partner, Emirates Airline will play a key role in bringing visitors to the event. Emirates’ strong global brand and marketing efforts, and its extensive route network to over 150 destinations means that it is uniquely situated to support Expo 2020 Dubai in attracting 25 million visitors, 70 per cent of whom are expected to travel internationally to visit the Expo.

“Emirates Airline carried over 50 million passengers last year. It is a global super-connector, and has always been forward-thinking and innovative in its outlook, leading the way in offering greater opportunity and mobility to people. It is a natural partner for Expo 2020 Dubai - an event which will bring the world together here in Dubai to celebrate the power of connections to create the innovation and inspiration that will shape our future - as we step onto the global scene.” – Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General Bureau Expo Dubai 2020 (May 2016)

Etisalat: In June 2016, Expo 2020 Dubai announced its second Premier Partnership with Etisalat – the UAE’s leading international telecoms and technology service provider. Thanks to this world-class partnership, the site of Expo 2020 Dubai will be one of the fastest, smartest, and best-connected places in the world during the global mega-event. Etisalat will be involved in creating the infrastructure for the Expo site, enabling Expo 2020 Dubai to provide visitors and participants with a cutting-edge, immersive digital experience. Etisalat will also provide onsite Wi-Fi capabilities for up to 300,000 people on the site each day, during operations.

“Communications that took six weeks in 1851, when the first Expo took place, now take six microseconds. Ours is a hyper-connected age, and Etisalat plays a critical role in linking people and their technology so that they can connect and share, innovate and create. With its international reach and expertise, Etisalat is well placed to support us in making Expo 2020 Dubai the best connected site on Earth during the mega event.” – Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General Bureau Expo Dubai 2020 (June 2016)

"In a world where digital technologies are redefining the way people interact, live and work, creating a borderless and inclusive global community, Etisalat is honoured to have the opportunity to contribute to Expo 2020 Dubai. As part of the partnership, we aim to bring together our people, technologies and expertise in telecommunications and digital services and solutions for an on-time execution of complex projects. It is part of our pledge to support the UAE’s long-term strategy in becoming the most sought-after global destination for trade, business and development.” – Saleh Al Abdooli, Chief Executive of Etisalat Group (June 2016)

DP World: Also in June 2016, Expo 2020 Dubai named DP World, one of the world’s biggest port operators, as its Premier Global Trade Partner. Expo’s partnership with DP World means that countries participating in Expo 2020 will be able to use ports in their home countries and Jebel Ali Port for their transport requirements as they prepare to take part in the event. The agreement will also offer opportunities for DP World to enhance its international profile and build partnerships with the event’s participants.

“Expo 2020 Dubai will be the first World Expo to take place in the Middle East, Africa or South Asia. Serving an area with a collective population of nearly 3.2 billion people and a GDP of more than US$6.5 trillion, Expo 2020 will act as a gateway to one of the most important geo-economic trends shaping our world: the rise of emerging markets, developing countries and South-South trade. The partnership with DP World will play a central role in cementing the UAE’s position at the heart of future global trade.” – Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General Bureau Expo Dubai 2020 (June 2016)

“We are proud to become the Premier Global Trade Partner of Expo 2020. This is an ideal partnership as we have the same purpose – to make a better tomorrow. We are proud ambassadors globally for Dubai and the UAE, enabling trade in over half of the world’s economy. Expo 2020 will capture the world’s attention and will leave a strong legacy and the same applies to DP World – we boost trade, build economies and create a positive future. We are a Dubai flagship company enabling trade in 40 countries and have a similar mindset to Expo – thinking ahead, innovating for the future which makes us a natural choice as Expo 2020’s global trade partner.” - Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, DP World Group Chairman and CEO (June 2016)

Read More