Contractors have been waiting for three years for building work to start on the Dubai Expo 2020 site, by the end of this year the wait will be over as fast-track construction contracts are awarded for some of the main components of the site.

So far this year the most high-profile appointments have involved architects. The UK’s Foster+Partners and Grimshaw Architects, and Denmark’s Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) were selected to design three of the Expo 2020 pavilions, and the UAE’s National Media Council (NMC) selected Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava’s falcon-inspired design for the UAE pavilion.

There has other progress both on and off the site. According to the Dubai Expo delivery team, the value of all contracts and purchase orders placed so far totals AED1.95bn ($530m). The primary focus on site has been levelling with 4.7 million cubic metres of earth moved in preparation for four infrastructure packages totaling AED1.3bn, the first of which is due to start soon.

Building work will follow very quickly as contractors submit two major tenders during October. The largest is for a project that is being developed by the joint venture of Emaar Properties and Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), which is known as Project Star.

The retail mall and hotel complex is being tendered on fast track basis using a two stage tender process to ensure that it opens in time for the 2020 Expo.

Contractors are also preparing to submit bids in late October for the contract to build DWTC’s Expo Village development, which like Project Star has to be finished quickly as it needs to be completed before the development of the expo site moves to the next phase and work starts on the various country pavilions.