In six years time Dubai, the first city in the Middle East, will be hosting the Expo 2020 exposition. Meanwhile a massive logistics effort is under way to ensure success.

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HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, promised to astonish the world at the turn of the decade if Dubai won the bid. He said: “Dubai Expo 2020 will breathe new life into the ancient role of the Middle East as a melting pot for cultures and creativity.”

Exciting times lie ahead – but equally a task of huge proportions. Unlike its predecessors, Dubai, with its 2 million residents, will be hosting 70% of its visitors from abroad – an expected total of 25 million people. By contrast, Milan is expected to host 30% international visitors in 2015 while Shanghai hosted just 6% from abroad in 2010. Dubai is set to meet those challenges in several ways.

Assembling the right logistics assets
To efficiently manage such a vast increase in residency over the six-month Expo period, Dubai is investing in four main areas: a) public transportation and transit; b) extended accommodation; c) a strategically-positioned site and d) a highly scalable supply chain. Many of these assets are already in place or are in advanced stages of planning.

a) Ultra-modern public transportation
Much of the capacity will fall on Dubai’s massive Al Maktoum International Airport. Ten times larger than Dubai International, it is expected to have the capacity to handle 160 million passengers by the mid 2020s. In addition, there is Dubai’s Metro urban rail network, which already spans 75 kilometers and serves 46 stations on two lines. An ambitious Dh5 billion expansion plan will connect the network to the Expo 2020 site and Al Maktoum Airport – with 12 more stations added.

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Dubai leads the world in advanced airport facilities at Al Maktoum International Airport

b) Accelerated growth in accommodation
Dubai’s Government is currently stimulating the building of many more hotels in Dubai, especially those in the mid range (3-4 star). The estimates are that a 50,000 hotel rooms will be added by 2020 – making 130,000 rooms in total. Spill-over accommodation will be available in neighbouring Emirates such as Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

c) Ideally-positioned and purpose-built site
The site for Expo 2020 is Jebel Ali, within the Dubai World Central complex. It will be equidistant from the centres of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Spanning 438 hectares, it will be designed for optimal traffic flow and efficiency. It will be located next to the new Al Maktoum International Airport and close to Jebel Ali Port.

d) Highly scalable supply chain management
Expo 2020 will run for six months and place great demands on Dubai’s food and beverage and retail sectors. To ensure that the city’s many large shopping malls and other retail points are always well-stocked, numerous local logistics companies will be scaling up their operations with advanced supply chain management solutions.

Ready for the task ahead
Looking at the wide range preparations being undertaken by the UAE Government and the large-scale private sector investments already in the pipeline, there’s no doubt that Dubai is on track to delivering one of the world’s most memorable Expo events.