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|27 November, 2017

The Big 5: Expo 2020 Dubai awards construction contract for Al Wasl Plaza

Central hub to connect thematic districts and other main concourses including Dubai Metro link

A man uses his mobile device next to a model of the Expo 2020 project in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, April 3, 2017. Image used for illustrative purpose.

A man uses his mobile device next to a model of the Expo 2020 project in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, April 3, 2017. Image used for illustrative purpose.

REUTERS/Stringer
(Spelling of Rimond corrected in the first paragraph)

Expo 2020 Dubai has awarded the construction contract for Al Wasl Plaza to Abu Dhabi-based contractor Cimolai Rimond Middle East, a senior official with the Expo announced on Sunday.

“I am happy to announce that Cimolai Rimond Middle East has been awarded the contract to build the steel structure for Al Wasl Plaza,” Ahmed Al Khatib, Expo 2020’s vice-president of real estate and delivery, said while speaking at the Excellence in Construction Summit, held as part of The Big 5 event in Dubai.

Al Wasl, which is the historical name for Dubai and means ‘the connection’ in Arabic, was the last major design element of the Expo site finalised in April this year.

Cimolai Rimond is an Abu Dhabi-based joint venture between Italian firms Cimolai, a structural steelmaker and contractor, and construction contractor Rimond. Both have experience of Middle East projects, according to its website, with Cimolai having previously built the Aspire Tower in Doha, while Rimond was responsible for the building, design management and construction management of the UAE Pavilion at the Expo Milano 2015.

“When finished, the [Al Wasl Plaza] structure will weigh 2,265 tonnes and enclose a space of about 724,000 cubic metres, the same volume as 290 Olympic-sized swimming pools,” said Al Khatib.

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The 150-metre-diameter plaza will be located at the centre of the 4.38-square kilometre Expo site and connect its three thematic districts – Opportunity, Sustainability and Mobility - as well as the other main concourses, including the Dubai Metro link and the UAE Pavilion, through its seven entrances and exits, according to an April press statement issued by Expo 2020 Dubai.

It has been designed by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG).

“It [the Plaza] is designed to host experiences of all sizes and purposes, whether it is a small event or a gathering of up to 10,000 people,” said Al Khatib.

“It will be topped by a 67 metre-high domed trellis inspired by the shape of the Expo 2020 logo. The trellis will also act as an immersive 360-degree projection surface.”

Other features of the plaza include restaurants, fountains and parks.

Al Khatib said the construction of Al Wasl Plaza and the thematic districts will be completed by October 2019, a year before the event starts to carry out “necessary testing and commissioning from security and operations perspective”.

As part of the Expo legacy, the plaza is going to be used both as an event space and a community facility, and will contain public walkways and 10km of bike paths throughout, according to a September report by Zawya.

Commenting on other preparatory work underway at the site, Al Khatib said the design phase for all of the buildings has been completed and infrastructure works are already underway.

“Across the site, we are laying more than 6,100 cubic metres of concrete per week. The infrastructure works will be completed by end of 2018. From April 2018, we will hand over the plots for the countries. We have over 90 self-built pavilions by the countries,” said Al Khatib.

He said the construction of three dedicated 132kV stations for the Expo is nearly finished and due to be energised by the end of this year.

To date, Expo 2020 has awarded over 2,600 contracts across the site including 10.8 billion UAE dirhams ($2.94 billion) in construction contracts, thus “delivering a positive economic impact for the UAE,” said Al Khatib.

In a press statement issued on Sunday, the Expo office said it has also awarded 411 million UAE dirhams in non-construction contracts this year, thereby exceeding its pledge of distributing 360 million UAE dirhams of such contracts in 2017. 

The statement said Expo 2020 Dubai will reach its target of 11 billion UAE dirhams of construction contracts after the awarding of urban planning and event overlay packages, due to be finalised early next year.

Expo 2020 Dubai, the first World Expo in the Middle East Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, will run from 20 October 2020 to 10 April 2021, and is expected to attract 25 million visits, with 70 percent anticipated to come from outside the UAE.

For more data, analytics, tools and news on projects in the Middle East visit the Thomson Reuters Projects portal

(Reporting by Anoop Menon; Edited by Michael Fahy and Shane McGinley)
(anoop.menon@thomsonreuters.com) © ZAWYA 2017