The Legacies of Expo 2020 Dubai

31st October 2022

From the very start, the site where Expo 2020 Dubai took place was designed to be something else after the Expo closed. Dubai being Dubai, there was a whole strategy to create a new district, a smart and futuristic destination for business and innovation, driven by sustainability, education and entertainment. As momentum continues to build to ensure the lasting legacy promised by the authorities, let’s explore the stakes at what is today known as Expo City Dubai.

Words Remi Deve

There are many forms that a legacy can take, but a good lasting one will instill a spirit of discovery, hope and possibility. Expo 2020 Dubai offered a glimpse of how to achieve that, and it is now being transformed into a brand-new neighborhood propelling the destination into the future, a testament to the emirate’s vision of becoming a leader in many fields of endeavor.

Expo 2020 Dubai took place 1 October 2021 – 31 March 2022, welcoming over 24 million visitors from all around the world, and with them ushered in a hope of a better tomorrow, led by a confluence of ideas, opportunities and collaborations scattered across an array of awe-inspiring pavilions.


From the very beginning, the sprawling exhibition was as future-ready as it was present-focused. In the weeks that followed the end of the six-month event, the site began its transition to a clean, human-centric and tech-enabled city. Retaining 80 per cent of the Expo-built infrastructure, Expo City Dubai is part of the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan. A green and innovation-driven city of the future, it is designed as a blueprint for sustainable urban planning, galvanizing action on its journey to net zero.

Representing the ambition of the emirate hosting it, Expo City Dubai aims to be a bastion of progress and creativity. Having officially opened on 1 October, it retains several of Expo 2020’s attractions such as the Al Wasl Plaza, the Garden in the Sky tower, the Surreal water feature and several pavilions. The district is the largest in the world to be fully covered by a 5G-enabled network.

Expo City Dubai also houses the Dubai Exhibition Centre (DEC), which is set to play host for a number of conferences and business events in the future, with its 45,000 square metres of event space. 

DEC already welcomed the Dubai Association Conference earlier this year. Championing the theme of ‘Associations and The New World: Resilience & Reinvention,’ the third edition of this only-for-associations conference explored how professional societies, non-profit organizations, and trade associations have been adapting amid not just the aftermath and direct impact of the global pandemic, but shifting dynamics among the professions and industries they serve. Partnering with the American Society of Association Executives, it brought together Dubai-based associations together a VIP group of top association executives, led by ASAE President and CEO Michelle Mason. 

From a commercial standpoint, Expo City Dubai aims to act as a fertile ground for businesses by offering a technology-driven ecosystem, with several companies keen to set up shop.

Green commitments

Expo City Dubai also aims to be the green paragon of Dubai in its commitment to sustainability. Placing environment-friendly initiatives and technology at the heart of its frame, it wants to personify sustainable urban planning. Besides being home to 123 LEED-certified buildings, the city will be a car-free destination, offering visitors other mobility options such as buggies, e-scooters and e-bikes. Meanwhile, with a low-rise ‘campus’ feel, the city’s districts are fully pedestrianized, improving safety and air quality, and there are no less than 10 km of cycling tracks, a 5 km running track and 45,000 sqm of parks and gardens.

Expo City Dubai is also the first community in the UAE to be registered under the WELL Community Standard pilot. Developed by the International WELL Building Institute, this is a vehicle for buildings and organizations to deliver more thoughtful and intentional spaces that enhance human health and well-being, the aim being to set a benchmark for healthy communities and neighborhoods. 

Technology is here to help the district’s green initiatives. In that regard, you will find the world’s largest installation of MindSphere onsite – Siemens’ cloud technology platform that uses smart metering and sensors to monitor energy consumption and efficiency of power, light, water and climate conditioning systems.

Reflecting its eco-friendly code, Expo City Dubai will remain free of single-use plastic. And while it is beckoning people to make greener choices, its sustainability drive is being complemented on an event level as well: the district will play host to the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 28) in November 2023, during which leaders will be urged to commit to tougher action on climate change, including cutting the use of coal-fired power stations, reducing reliability on fossil fuels and boosting renewable energy sources.

The conference is expected to attract more than 45,000 participants daily, including heads of state, government officials, international industry leaders, private sector representatives, academics, experts and representatives of civil society organizations.

More information on Dubai as a business events destination here.

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