The UAE has laid the foundation stone for the UAE Pavilion at the Expo 2020 site in Dubai.

The stone was laid by Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum, chairman of the Expo 2020 Dubai Higher Committee, president of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and chief executive of Emirates Airline and Group.

At the ceremony on 17 December, the official agreement for the UAE’s participation in the Expo was also signed by Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber, Minister of State and chairman of the National Media Council (NMC) and Reem Ibrahim al-Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation and director-general of the Expo 2020 Office.

The National Media Council is the entity tasked with overseeing the construction and management of the UAE Pavilion at international Expos.

In July this year, the local Arabtec Construction was awarded the contract to build the UAE Pavilion. Abu Dhabi-based Masdar is the development manager for the project. Spain’s Santiago Calatrava won the design competition for the building. The building has been designed in the shape of a flying falcon – the national symbol of the UAE.

The UAE Pavilion covers an area of more than 15,000 square metres; it is made up of four floors with the top storey dedicated for hospitality with an area of 1,717 sq m. Meanwhile, a 588-sq m mezzanine floor will house support units, and the two remaining floors consist of more than 12,000 square metres of exhibition space. The entire structure is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

The pavilion is just one of the building components that has started this year at Expo. Altogether the organisers say that AED10.8bn ($2.9bn) of contracts have been awarded for the event this year.

The largest contract, valued at AED2.2bn, was awarded to the local/UK Al-Futtaim Carillion for the construction of the Thematic Districts.