DUBAI, 27th June, 2016 (WAM)–Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General of Expo 2020 Dubai Bureau, Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashimy today confirmed that infrastructure works on the Expo site are set to begin shortly.

She added that Expo 2020 aims to complete major construction on the site around a year ahead of the Expo’s Opening Ceremony, on 20th October 2020.

Al Hashimy was speaking at a ‘Meet the CEO’ event organised by the Government of Dubai Media Office (GDMO) today. ‘Meet the CEO’ is a regular series of press events organized by GDMO for leaders of prominent Dubai organizations. Both local and international media attended the event.

The Director General of Expo 2020 Dubai Bureau explained that while the site will be completed a year ahead of the inauguration, many participating countries will build their own, which will be finished at least four months ahead of the opening.

Al Hashimy told the media attending the ‘Meet the CEO’ event that with 1,575 days until the event – which will be the most visited mega event of 2020, hosting some 25 million visitors – the Expo project is progressing on schedule.

The Expo 2020 site will be part of a new city with its own unique infrastructure, facilities and services, the Minister said. Al Hashimy expects the private sector to play a major role in the Expo 2020 project. In the last two months, Expo 2020 Dubai has signed up three Premier Partners, Emirates Airline, Etisalat and DP World in a series of deals worth hundreds of millions of US Dollars. She said that the media is also a key partner in the UAE’s development and in the development of the Expo project.

Al Hashimy talked briefly about the standards being put in place for Expo 2020. She said that the project will have specific standards in areas like sustainability and environmental protection, including a public commitment to using 50% renewable energy on the Expo site over the period of operation.

She spoke about the legacy benefits that the Expo will bring to both the UAE and the region. Events and programmes – like Youth Connect which brought together almost 1,000 young people from across the UAE last October – and the plans for the Expo 2020 site are being designed with can bring sustainable benefits to the region as part of a lasting legacy.

Speaking about Expo 2020’s impact on economic growth, Al Hashimy said that past Expo events have provided significant stimulus to the trade sectors of host countries, spurring growth of between 20 – 25 percent.

The Minister said that the Expo is not an exhibition but a global platform for the UAE to showcase its hopes and aspirations for the region and to the world. The UAE seeks to highlight the positive aspects of the region and challenge misconceptions, she added.

Al Hashimy said that Expo 2020 Dubai will seek to facilitate major opportunities for the young and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Earlier this month, Expo 2020 Dubai signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Mohammed bin Rashid Establishment for Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Dubai SME, and Tejari to help broaden access for thousands of SMEs in the emirate to tender for opportunities offered by the mega event. Expo 2020 Dubai is also cooperating with the Ministry of Economy to support SMEs.

She highlighted the major role that volunteers will play in the success of Expo 2020 Dubai. Many volunteers will be drawn from across the UAE and will reflect the vast diversity of the community.

Speaking about the recently launched logo of Expo 2020 Dubai, Al Hashimy said that the theme of the event ‘Connecting Minds Creating the Future’ upholds the spirit and achievements of Dubai’s forefathers who lived in the area thousands of years ago. The emirate’s trading heritage, revealed at the architectural site of Saroug Al Hadeed, is testimony to Dubai’s ancient role as a land that connected civilisations and trade routes.

She said that the Ministry of International Cooperation works with international organisations to share best practice. Al Hashimy said the UAE is keen to spread its expertise in various sectors like airports, ports renewable energy and tourism to support developing countries in their economic growth. Through events like the Expo, Dubai will continue to play its role as a meeting point for the world.

The Minister said that Expo 2020 Dubai plans to host over 180 nations, from Africa, Asia, Europe, Australasia and the Americas, as part of a global festival of innovation and imagination.