The UAE’s vice-president, prime minister and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, has appointed State Minister Reem Ibrahim al-Hashemi as managing director of the Higher Committee on Hosting the World Expo 2020. Sheikh Mohammed also ordered that an Expo 2020 special office be set up and headed by Al-Hashemi as director-general.

Dubai expects 25 million visitors for the Expo, 70 per cent of whom will be international. The total amount of investment for the event is expected to be $3.4bn.

The Expo site involves developing a 4.38-square-kilometre (sq km) area, within which 1.68 sq km will be a ticketed zone. There will be both open and enclosed spaces comprising a mixture of pavilions that will be built either by the exhibitors themselves or by the Expo delivery company. Three relatively large arenas are also planned, as well as apartments, malls, hotels and warehousing.

The initial masterplan for the site has been prepared by a team led by US-based architectural firm HOK. Other consultants that worked on the scheme include US-based Thinkwell and Populous, and the UK’s Arup.

Opportunities for private sector developers will arise next to the Expo site. The first to announce plans was local developer Emaar Properties, which signed a deal to develop an integrated urban centre and golf destination spread over an area of 13.63 million square metres (sq m). The first phase of the development will include a golf-course villa community, several hotels, a high-end shopping mall, leisure attractions and a business hub that promotes youth entrepreneurship.