Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum was briefed on the implementation of the project to construct Al Wasl Plaza, the central hub of the Expo 2020 site.
Accompanying Sheikh Mohammed at the briefing were Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum; Chairman of the Expo 2020 Dubai Higher Committee, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum; and UAE Minister of State Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber.
The Al Wasl Plaza project will connect the main sections of the site of the Expo 2020 event, which is expected to see 25 million visitors from the UAE and across the world over a period of six months.
Sheikh Mohammed was briefed on the Al Wasl Plaza, a unique open space at the heart of the 4.38-square kilometre Expo site in Dubai South. With a diameter of 150 metres, the Plaza includes a 130m-wide domed trellis that will be the surface of a huge 360-degree projection experience. Through its seven entrances and exits, the Plaza will connect the three thematic districts – Opportunity, Sustainability, and Mobility – as well as the other main concourses, including the Dubai Metro link and the UAE Pavilion.
Expo 2020 Dubai signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Meraas Holding to implement the Al Wasl Plaza project. UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General, Dubai Expo 2020 Bureau Reem Al Hashimy and Group Chairman of Meraas Abdulla Ahmed Al Habbai signed the MoU on behalf of their organisations.
Meraas has delivered some of Dubai’s top destinations, such as City Walk, The Beach and The Outlet Village, and, under the agreement with Expo 2020 Dubai, will work to transform the conceptual design of Al Wasl Plaza into a reality by working with the architects and other consultants.
The Plaza has been designed to host experiences of all sizes and purposes, whether it be a small, intimate event or a large gathering of up to 10,000 people.
Chairman of the Expo 2020 Dubai Higher Committee Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said: "Al Wasl Plaza represents an important symbol of Expo 2020 Dubai since it bears the old name of Dubai. This is why it will be a very distinguished destination that both lives up to its name and fascinates the visitors who will be flooding to Dubai from all over the world.
"It is also why we chose Meraas to manage the project all the way from design to the completion of construction. This company, which has extensive experience, has been involved in a number of the large structural projects of which Dubai is very proud.
"This makes us confident that Meraas will deliver Al Wasl Plaza to the highest levels of design and implementation, befitting the leading position our country occupies in the international arena."
UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General, Dubai Expo 2020 Bureau Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy added: "We are committed to ensuring that Expo 2020 Dubai complements all the other exciting offerings of Dubai.
"By working with Meraas, we will deliver a plaza that will provide a truly remarkable and unforgettable experience to the millions of people who visit the Expo."
Meraas has a successful track record in developing and operating a diverse, high quality portfolio of urban destinations, as well as investing and creating new technologies and experiences for visitors. Its work spans a number of sectors, from food, fun and travel to health, tech and education.
Group Chairman of Meraas Abdulla Ahmed Al Habbai said: "We are proud to contribute to the realisation of the vision for Expo 2020 Dubai of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
"Our aim will be to support Expo 2020 Dubai in turning the stunning and cutting-edge conceptual design of Al Wasl Plaza into a reality and help ensure that it becomes a thriving central hub that ‘connects minds’ during Expo and long into the future."
As part of the Design Management Services that Meraas will supply, it will manage the design process, advise on the appointment of a design consultant and help formulate and agree construction methods.
During the construction phase, the firm will also have an oversight role, ensuring that design is accurately realised and meets technical specifications.
Al Wasl Plaza is the last major design element of the Expo site to be announced. Expo 2020 Dubai worked with world-renowned Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG) on the design of the space after the firm beat competition from some of the biggest names in the industry to win the contract.
The design was viewed and approved by the Expo 2020 Dubai Higher Committee.
Expo 2020 Dubai will open its doors on 20 October, 2020 and will end on 10 April, 2021. Through its theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, it will be a festival for all, where everyone can learn, innovate, create progress and have fun by sharing ideas and working together.
Work is due to start on Al Wasl Plaza in the coming months and is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.