Dubai – MENA Herald: In a keynote speech at the Cityscape conference, taking place today, Marjan Faraidooni, Expo 2020’s VP of Legacy set out ambitious plans to transform the Expo’s 4.38 square kilometre site into an ecosystem that connects businesses in the transport and logistics, travel and tourism, real estate and education sectors, as part of a creating a thriving knowledge economy that contributes to the UAE’s diversified future.

Ms Faraidooni explained Expo’s intentions. “Our legacy plans are wide ranging and ambitious. Our Expo will continue to foster innovation, and to create meaningful partnerships that will live beyond 2020 – not only for the UAE but for the region as a whole.”

Supporting economic diversification

Ms. Faraidooni explained how Expo 2020 Dubai would target its investment to deliver a long lasting legacy from the Expo site. “We have spent the past year working on developing our masterplan specifically to create a platform for the future. Over 80% of our investments will be retained following the event. This includes the infrastructure, as well as the cutting edge technologies, the roads and public transport systems put in place to host the Expo. We intend to build on those physical and virtual platforms to create an ecosystem that lives through legacy.

“We have dedicated considerable effort towards identifying how we could develop a place that will continue to attract everyone: businesses, students, workers. It will be a place where people will continue to learn and take benefit from the plans and investment being made now.”

Connecting Minds, Creating the Future

Expo 2020 Dubai’s theme is ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’. The theme represents the belief that progress happens when people and ideas come together in new ways. And our theme celebrates the power of ideas, from anyone, to improve the lives of everyone. This is the guiding principle that lies behind all of Expo 2020’s activities.

Developing a legacy plan

Expo 2020 Dubai’s legacy plans are the product of over two years of research and development, following the successful bid to host the mega event in November 2013. Officials from the Expo organisers have looked closely at the UAE’s national strategic priorities, and the planning for other mega events, including the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the Lisbon Expo of 1998. Both events stimulated investment which resulted in the successful regeneration of run down inner-city areas.

Expo 2020 Dubai will, in contrast, by a driver of the development of an entirely new quarter within the Dubai South district.

Expo’s ecosystem strategy uses physical proximity and an enabling environment to create competitive advantages, most importantly access to leading edge skills and capabilities. Expo officials believe that the merging of industries with related technologies will create a centre of excellence that draws in further related companies, enabling wider collaborations and innovations.

Supporting strategic industries

Expo’s legacy planners have identified four high priority strategic industries: educations, transport and logistics, travel and tourism, and real estate. These sectors form the backbone of the current UAE economy, and are industries that have a major role to play in the nation’s ongoing economic diversification.

As part of the legacy plan, Expo has explored what technologies, including augmented reality, big data and the internet of things could transform these industries. Expo has also identified education and cultural initiatives to complement the ecosystem envisaged by Expo organisers.

An adaptable site

Over 80% of the Expo site will be reused or repurposed in the legacy phase. The theme districts – which will host the majority of the country pavilions – will become collaborative work spaces to house companies of all sizes, along with social and cultural institutions.

Expo’s iconic theme pavilions – the designs of which were unveiled earlier this year – will also be reused under the legacy plans.

The conference and exhibition centre, a key structure within the Expo masterplan will become a major event venue for Dubai, to be operated by Dubai World Trade Centre, and benefitting from the synergies that will be created as businesses, and people develop the Expo site in the legacy phase.

The Expo site will also feature fully integrated residential communities and retail offerings.

Learning from the past, and looking to the future

A video released today by Expo 2020 Dubai included an interview with Martin Roth, Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington, London. The museum, which features art and design, was established with some of the profits from the first World Expo in 1851. In the video, Mr Roth describes how the legacy of that first World Expo continues to inspire millions more than 150 years later. He relates a conversation with Jonathan Ives, Chief Design Officer of Apple, who as a child was a frequent visitor to the museum, which sparked the interest that ultimately led him to design the iPhone.

The first World Expo left behind a legacy that continues to connect minds, inspiring them to create the future. With the plans revealed today, Expo 2020 Dubai aspires to do the same.