Making Impact: Dr Shaun Vorster shares progress on EXPO 2020 Dubai

  • Dr Shaun Vorster
  • JUN 28 2018
  • Tags Alumni, Business, News, Expo 2020 Dubai

Dubai won the bid to host Expo 2020 in November 2013. From that day, we embarked on the journey towards hosting an exceptional Expo, creating a global collaborative platform that leaves a lasting legacy for the UAE and participants, says Dr Shaun Vorster, USB MBA alumnus and Vice President-Business Integration and Activations, EXPO 2020 Dubai.

With less than 850 days to go until Expo 2020 Dubai, preparations to deliver the first World Expo in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region are well on track.

Between 20 October 2020 and 10 April 2021, Expo 2020 Dubai expects to attract 25 million visits from domestic and international tourists, students, business leaders and government delegations. The theme of Expo 2020 is ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ and its three key subthemes are Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability.

Expo 2020 continues to make progress in six key areas:

  1. International participation

To date, 170 countries have either publicly or privately confirmed their participation in Expo 2020 Dubai, including Italy, the United Kingdom, Indonesia, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Slovenia, Luxembourg, Greece, Tunisia, Kazakhstan, Chile, Nigeria, Germany and Ireland.

  1. Commercial partnerships

Expo 2020 Dubai has announced 10 Premier Partners and three Official Partners to date:

Premier partners

  • Accenture – Official Digital Services Partner (jointly with Etisalat)
  • Cisco – Official Digital Network Partner
  • DP World – Official Global Trade Partner
  • Emirates Airline – Official Airline Partner
  • Emirates NBD – Official Banking Services Partner
  • Etisalat – Official Telecommunications Partner and Official Digital Services Partner (jointly with Accenture)
  • Nissan – Official Automotive Partner
  • PepsiCo –Official Beverages and Snack Partner
  • SAP – Official Innovative Enterprise Software Partner
  • Siemens – Official Intelligent Infrastructure & Operations Partner

Official partners

  • DEWA – Official Sustainable Energy Partner
  • ENOC – Official Integrated Energy Partner
  • UPS – Official Logistics Partner

Commercial partners are playing a vital role in delivering Expo 2020 Dubai and supporting its legacy.

  1. The home of Expo 2020 in Dubai

Three theme districts – Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability – form the core of Expo’s 4.38 sqkm site. The foundations are already complete and the construction is changing daily into recognisable buildings. All the major design elements are complete, including the iconic Al Wasl Plaza, a central hub that will feature a massive steel trellis dome with a diameter of 130 metres.

More than 30 million work hours have been completed on the Expo 2020 site, with 6,100 cubic metres of concrete being laid every week and 85 kilometres of pipe already laid.

Details of the Sustainability Pavilion, which was designed by Grimshaw Architects, were made public in January 2017. This pavilion explores the potential of self-sustaining water and energy buildings by using innovative combinations of technologies to harvest solar power and water from the air. Construction is well underway and the pavilion is due to be completed by October 2019.

  1. Economic impact

In 2017, Expo awarded AED 10.8 billion in construction contracts and AED 411 million in non-construction contracts.

Expo 2020 Dubai has awarded 3,093 contracts to date, with SMEs continuing to lead the way by gaining 1,717 of these contracts. The Expo team will continue to identify and promote opportunities for SMEs, including licensed merchandise and a potential AED 2 billion in food and beverage sales during the event.

Companies wishing to bid for Expo contracts can register here:

  1. Social impact

Expo 2020 Dubai’s theme, ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, is creating opportunities for people to connect with one another from every corner of the world.

Expo Live, Expo 2020’s global social impact programme, has allocated USD 100 million to back projects offering creative solutions that improve people’s lives or to help to preserve our world – or both.

During the first three cycles of Expo Live’s flagship Innovation Impact Grant Programme, a total of 70 Global Innovators from 42 countries were selected to receive grants of up to USD 100,000, as well as business guidance and promotion to help them reach their full potential. Expo Live’s University Innovation Programme is encouraging and supporting university students in the UAE to work together to find creative solutions for some of the most pressing challenges facing the world.

World Expos have always been about innovation and through Expo Live, Expo 2020 Dubai is taking this tradition to the next level by stimulating the creation and development of ideas that will inspire millions of visitors and improve the lives of people around the world. To find more about Expo Live, visit:

Expo 2020 Dubai’s Youth Connect team also continues to engage in exciting programmes with schools and educators across the UAE. Youth Connect has already reached more than 36,300 students from 620 schools in all seven Emirates, and plans to expand its reach throughout the journey to 2020.

Expo 2020 has also launched its search for at least 30,000 volunteers to become the ‘face’ of the next World Expo. To register your interest in becoming an Expo 2020 Volunteer, visit:

The Expo 2020 Dubai apprenticeship programme is another example of the World Expo’s contribution to training and placing competent and highly skilled young professionals into the UAE’s workforce.

  1. Legacy

Beyond 2021, Expo 2020 Dubai’s spirit and accomplishments will continue to have a lasting and tangible impact on future generations.

In September 2017, Expo 2020 announced its exciting legacy plans, which will see the Expo site live on long after the six months of the event as District 2020 – a new urban experience that will showcase the latest trends of modern living, blending work and recreation.

District 2020 will include 65,000 sqm of residential space and 135,000 sqm of commercial space in a location that will be home to world-class innovation, educational, cultural and entertainment facilities, as well as a Conference and Exhibition Centre.

Two of Expo 2020’s Premier Partners, Accenture and Siemens, have already committed to the legacy of Expo 2020, and will have a permanent presence in District 2020. Siemens will establish its global headquarters for airports, cargo and ports logistics at the site, while Accenture will open a digital hub in District 2020.

Click here to read the Briefing and Factsheet Expo Dubai 2020


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