KT Exclusive: Expo 2020 pavilions to be complete by year-end

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Preparations for Expo 2020 Dubai are continuing on site and in countries around the world.
Preparations for Expo 2020 Dubai are continuing on site and in countries around the world.

Dubai - Organisers stick to 25m visitor targets despite pandemic; world-class event assured.

By Waheed Abbas

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Published: Sat 29 Aug 2020, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 2 Sep 2020, 11:16 AM

The construction of all country pavilions for Dubai Expo 2020 will be completed by end of this year and the UAE is working on developing guidelines to ensure a Covid-free Expo site. 
Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), which oversees and regulates World Expos, said preparations for the mega event have continued in recent months in adherence to the precautionary measures taken by UAE authorities.  
"All participating country pavilion construction is set to be completed by the end of 2020, with the BIE and its member states, the UAE government and the Expo organiser jointly developing guidelines to ensure a safe and Covid-free Expo site," the body said. 
A four-day virtual meeting of organisers and participants of Expo 2020 was held this week to exchange dialogues directly and ensure the successful delivery of the event. More than 190 countries participating in the next World Expo took part in the virtual meeting. 
Expo 2020 Dubai has been delayed a year due to the outbreak of Covid-19; the six-month-long mega event will now run from October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022. However, it will keep the name "Expo 2020 Dubai".
"Expo 2020 Dubai's core purpose - to bring the world together to develop solutions to challenges that affect us all - will be even more relevant when the Expo begins on October 1, 2021," said Reem bint Ebrahim Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director-General of the Expo 2020 Dubai Bureau.
"Preparations for Expo 2020 Dubai are continuing on site and in countries around the world. While Covid-19 has affected us in many different ways, the organiser and participating countries are finding new and creative means to interpret the theme and plan their pavilions," said Dimitri S. Kerkentzes, secretary-general of the BIE. 
He added that as the situation evolves daily, the site's operational principals are to be further defined and tweaked over the coming months to adapt new developments. 
"I believe that by spring 2021, we should all have a much better understanding of the site and pavilion operational requirements, based on solid facts concerning the evolution of overall situation, new preventative measures and technologies as well as medical advancements," he said following the four-day meeting. 
For the first time in the history of World Expos, construction will be completed well in advance of the opening day by December of this year, he said, adding that "we will study, with the help of global experts, the conditions that must be met for safe visitation of the site and pavilions and adapt our visitor experience plan to deliver an incredible Expo".
Sticking to 25M visitor target 
With major medical advancements expected in the coming months concerning the pandemic, organisers are sticking to the 25 million visitor target for Dubai Expo 2020. 
"We firmly believe that we will see huge advances in preventative interventions and medical treatments in the coming months. After all, how far we have come in the few months since Covid-19 was recognised as a global pandemic. That's why, for now, we are sticking with our expectation of 25 million visitors because the world will be very different in just a few months, let alone the next 13 months that we have until the event time," Al Hashimy said in a message following the meeting.
"I assure that the UAE is absolutely ready to deliver on a world-class event whatever the size of our physical and online audience. Over the course of last few days, we are preparing for - and it is our duty to prepare for - all scenarios so that whatever happens we can deliver the best possible event for that circumstances," she added. 
Discounts for participants  
In response to requests from participating countries about reducing certain costs, Al Hashimy said they have coordinated with the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority to ensure a 15-month cap on their electricity connection fees.  
"This is the latest in a series of concessions and relaxation that we have delivered in order to reduce costs from our telecommunication packages with partner etisalat to authorise inspection costs related to permits."
She added: "When you meet your construction deadlines and complete pavilions this coming December, we can close our site and stand down the Expo construction workforce of which we are extremely proud and which we are very protective."  
- waheedabbas@khaleejtimes.com

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