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Expo 2020 Dubai Is Over—Here’s Everything To Know About Its Transformation Into the Country’s First 15 Minute City

Photo: Courtesy of Expo 2020 Dubai

Expo 2020 Dubai reached its finale on March 31 with a spectacular closing ceremony featuring live musicians from around the globe and celebratory fireworks. Throughout its eventful six months, the world fair accumulated more than 23 million visitors to embrace possibilities of the future and connect minds. The question is, what happens to the Expo 2020 Dubai space now?


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A part of the legacy plans is to transform the 4.38 square kilometer space into a residential and business hub named District 2020. The district will focus on four key  domains: smart logistics, smart mobility, smart cities, and Industry 4.0. Set to host 145,000 residents and workers while simultaneously serving as a community for multinational corporations and businesses, the $8 billion world fair is repurposed as a part of the Dubai’s 2040 Urban Master Plan. The arrangements also include more than 600 startups and small businesses that are opting for the chance to be included within the district which will open in October 2022.

Named as the country’s first “15 minute city”, it will be possible for people to walk or cycle in the district without the need for a car, which also re-visits one of Expo 2020’s most vital missions since its opening: the well-being of earth and its people. Promoting sustainability as a key factor, the site will include a variety of mobility options for people to reach from home or the office such as an autonomous vehicle route, a 10km cycling track and a 5km jogging track. Schools, hospitals, shops and much more will be accessible in just 15 minutes.

A majority of the area’s structure is expected to remain as is with Al Wasl Plaza, the world’s biggest 360 projection dome, staying put. The Garden in the Sky, the elevator-like access to a panoramic view of the entire District 2020, is also expected to remain with an underground deck and cooling systems for the hot summer months. Surreal Water, one of the most popular attractions within the site, will also stay. Further supporting artists and composers globally, the Firdaus Studio, home to the UAE’s first all women ensemble, will prevail as a space for creatives to record albums, film scores, and more.

Photo: Courtesy of Grimshaw

The Alif Mobility Pavilion will continue to spread its message on mobility through exhibitions held in the building. It will also host office spaces while also featuring the world’s largest passenger lift which carries more than 160 people at once. The Terra Sustainability Pavilion will also hold exhibitions to promote its messages and act as a center for awareness surrounding environmental change. Most importantly, the pavilion will be re-imagined into a Children and Science Center. Included in the legacy pavilions is the Mission Possible Opportunity Pavilion which will carry on its mission in District 2020. The Dubai Exhibition Center which has hosted many international events, concerts, ceremonies and conferences, will be used as a place for world-class events.

Photo: Courtesy of

“Nearly 80% of what the Expo has built will remain in legacy,” explains Director at the Opportunity Pavilion Anoosha Al Marzouqi, adding “While District 2020 is the name of the Expo site, it will turn into a residential and commercial community called the ‘15-minute city’ eventually.”

Photo: Courtesy of

The country pavilions confirmed to stay are the legendary falcon-shaped United Arab Emirates, the mirror and LED masterpiece Saudi Arabia and India as per their legacy tags. Other neighboring and temporary pavilions will be taken down as the spaces are used for homes and offices. The UAE Pavilion will move forward with their “Land of Dreamers Who Do” initiative as part of honoring the late founder of the nation, HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

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