What will Expo 2020 mean for the UAE?

Patrick Bean (right), head of design at Mirk Group goes head-to-head with Tareq Abu-Sukheila (left), managing director, Gensler Middle East

The award of Expo 2020 to Dubai has been trumpeted as a triumph across the UAE. But what does it actually mean for architecture, the market-place and design?

Tareq Abu-Sukheila: As an Expo host, it will improve business, trade, real estate, travel and tourism sectors and investors will feel more confident and show interest to invest in Dubai. The building of the insfrastructure will undoubtedly stimulate the economy.

Patrick Bean: Historically Expos have brought high brow media attention to their host cities. Expos have set apart these cities from the rest of the crowd. The good work done in Dubai in the past 10 years will now get relevant global attention.

Will it have any relevance to building design in the next six years?

Tareq Abu-Sukheila: While opportunities are there, the clients are much more experienced with development projects after the pre/post-2008 real estate bubble. As a result they operate with more caution, pragmatism, price sensitivity and increase design demands and expectations for delivery.

Patrick Bean: I believe responsive design with relevance to the region should be the core theme driving design. Relevance to time and place will become the key driving factors, hand in hand with a true and honest belief in all aspects of sustainability and environemntal awareness.

Will other emirates benefit from the event?

Tareq Abu-Sukheila: Dubai of course will take on the majority of the load and the benefits of the event, however, the other emirates especially Abu Dhabi and potentially Sharjah will handle additional transportation, accommodation and other hospitality services . UAE will work on a unified basis.

Patrick Bean: Certainly. The land assets of other emirates will be put to a good use. Large scale solar farms of Abu Dhabi should already be online supporting the main grid, other emirates can soon follow the suite. Expo is about calling attention to not just this city but the whole country.

What would you prefer – Expo or World Cup?

Tareq Abu-Sukheila: Expo offers event and part timers more job longevity and diversity of work. It also brings together countries in an entertainment context as well as an exchange of knowledge, trade and commerce on a large scale.

Patrick Bean: Being a football fan, this puts me in a difficult situation, but thinking logically for the long term, it has to be Expo, really because it’s such a celebration of entrepreneurship and professionalism for all walks of life.