An Expo village, on the lines of an Olympic village, is to be constructed in Dubai prior to hosting the 2020 world fair.
More than 2,000 apartments, banks, retail outlets and restaurants will be built on the 438 hectare site in Jebel Ali.
Also a solar-powered canvas canopy will provide shade for visitors to the site during the day, while a photovoltaic panel-lined roof will light up at night for spectacular digital shows.
Building work will begin next year after a detailed masterplan is completed.
Using strong local content is a major factor, said Daniel Hajjar, principal of HOK Middle East and Africa, the company that designed the site.
“We leveraged traditional architecture like the souks,” he said. “But we also needed to make a grand statement of Dubai putting itself on the map. This can really become a beacon for the southern end of the city.”
As part of the core theme of sustainability, most structures including the pavilions will be reused to create an exhibition and conference centre, a university and a national museum dedicated to the Expo.
“When we started the design the parameters were very clear,” Hajjar said.
“We knew that these facilities would need to be readapted and reused and this would be paramount. The world fair is in a city for six months but what will remain is a legacy.”
About 30,000 volunteers will be required to help run a site that will host 300,000 people a day. The volunteers will be in addition to 275,000 jobs created in sectors ranging from transport, hospitality and hotels.
“The Arabian souk is at the heart of the master plan and the souk theme will bring an amazing vibrancy to the expo,” said Christopher Scott, the director investment and development of the Dubai World Trade Centre.
“The central Al Wasl Plaza is from the old Arabic name for Dubai meaning ‘the connection’. Smaller pavilions will be located in the souk,” he said.
“A tremendous amount of planning has gone in to reaching this stage. We’re entering the next phase of planning.
“We will start construction after 2015 but some infrastructure requirements, like the Metro extension, may start earlier. Our target is to create everything a year before to give us ample time to do testing at the venue.”
The next move will be building the UAE’s pavilion at the Milan Expo which will take place next year.
The design concept from Foster + Partners has winding 12-metre-high sand-textured walls to recreate the region’s sand dunes. A theatre and a recreated oasis are also part of the pavilion planned for the event.
Story-telling will be a vital part of the presentation, said Peter Vine, the director of the UAE pavilion project in Milan.
He said: “The pavilion will celebrate the UAE and tell the story of its remarkable growth. Visitors will also meet Emirati ambassadors who will be the conduit for telling the stories about how the UAE has grown.”