District 2020, the future vision of the Expo 2020 site, will develop a vibrant new urban community in Dubai and help promote economic diversification as well as benefit vital sectors of economy such as real estate, information technology and startups, experts say.

The $8 billion new district, which is due to welcome its first tenants from October 2020, will pave the way for more human-centred, smart and sustainable cities in future. The 4.38-sqkm city will be cenrtred around health and well-being with the aim of promoting an active and balanced lifestyle to a section of Dubai’s present population of 3.5 million.

Once the doors to Expo 2020 Dubai close on March 31, 2022, around 80 per cent of Expo-built structure will be retained and repurposed to host up to 145,000 residents and workers. In addition, about 115,000sqm will be available for companies of all sizes starting from October 2022.

Enduring legacy of Expo

Bal Krishen, chairman and CEO, Century Financial, said District 2020 is going to be an enduring legacy of the Expo. However, it is something more than that, as it will lead to creating a vibrant new urban community.

Located between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, near Dubai’s southern border with Abu Dhabi, he said the new initiative will give a fillip to the economy of that area and buoy Dubai’s overall economy.

“The growth ambitions will contribute significantly to the Dubai 2040 Urban Masterplan. As an ideal launchpad and gateway to new regional and global markets, District 2020 will aid regional and international startups by providing a platform for scaling up in Dubai,” Krishen told Khaleej Times on Sunday.

Saad Maniar, senior partner at Crowe, said District 2020 infrastructure is extra-ordinary, which means that the business located there, will certainly benefit by establishing their presence later this year.

“District 2020’s contribution in strengthening Dubai economy will depend on its ability to attract some big brands to the area in addition to many other factors, which cannot be foreseen at the moment.

Benefitting real estate

Krishen said the emphasis on health and wellness in District 2020 will further boost Dubai’s property and real estate sector.

“Anyway, Property prices and demand for residential properties are rising in the Dubai property market, indicating a remarkable recovery. And Exo 2020 has obviously played an important role.

“The conversion of the Expo site into District 2020 will help increase the supply and attract more investment from foreign investors. Due to the increasing demand for villas and townhouses, this supply could be easily lapped up as it’s a location that’s internationally popular,” he said.

Maniar of Crowe echoed the similar views and said District 2020 will definitely help promote the residential and commercial markets of Dubai.

“Yes, certainly around that area it will help promote real estate,” Maniar told Khaleej Times on Sunday.

However, he was not sure that District 2020 will be able to strengthening startup ecosystem of the emirate in coming years.

“I’m not sure how it will help the startup ecosystem, as there are many other free zones in Dubai already promoting and attracting startup companies in the emirate,” he said.

New urban community

Ata Shobeiry, CEO at Zoom Property, said Dubai is setting an unprecedented example for future world fairs by utilising the expo site to promote human wellbeing with flexible spaces to live, work and explore.

“This move is not only going to impact the real estate industry but the overall economy, since it will give a boost to the commercial activities in the areas closer to the Expo site,” Shobeiry told Khaleej Times on Sunday.

He said the mega event has been a game-changer for Dubai economy in general and property sector in particular.

“I’m confident that District 2020 will boost the residential and commercial markets of Dubai as 80 per cent of Expo infrastructure will be utilised by offering flexible spaces to vital sectors of economy to live and work in one of the finest environments available globally.

Strengthening startups ecosystem

Krishen said District 2020’s partnership with Scale2Dubai will boost the startup ecosystem in the emirate.

“Dubai is already rated number one in the Arab world in innovation and is ranked 20th globally. The new initiatives in District 2020 will help successful firms selected through a process to avail of two years of free working space in District 2020,” he said.

Moreover, he said it creates a vibrant ecosystem for the firms. Small businesses and startups will be able to expand locally and internationally by connecting with the District 2020 platform.

“They will also connect with large enterprises and obtain access to funding and other growth enabling resources from the platform. This policy is also in line with Dubai’s proactive support of small and medium enterprises and the crucial role these businesses play in the country’s economic resilience,” he said.


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