Dubai 2020 World Expo Master Plan

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  • Typologies

    Convention and Exhibition Centers

  • Building Activities

    Conferences & Expos

  • Services

    Master Planning, Architecture

  • Completion


CHALLENGE. Populous was challenged to design a master plan for the 2020 Dubai World Expo that creates a unique and inspirational experience, looking to the future while also paying homage to Emirati culture and heritage.

INNOVATION. The masterplan design, titled “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”, features three separate pavilions symbolising opportunity, sustainability and mobility, with “innovation pods” and “best practice areas” in each thematic zone. These three zones emanate from a central plaza named the Al Wasl, a historical name for Dubai meaning “the connection”. Inspired by the layout of a traditional Arabic “souk,” or marketplace, the design places larger pavilions to the perimeter while clustering smaller exhibit spaces toward the centre of the site. This creates a smooth pedestrian flow while encouraging interaction among visitors.

  • An aerial of the design for the 2020 Dubai World Expo

An iconic photovoltaic fabric structure covers the main walkways, acting as a solar-powered sunshade and combining with photovoltaic panels on building facades to capture enough sunlight to generate at least half of the Expo’s energy requirements on-site. At night, the fabric will be transformed into an illuminated display of lights and digital projections. Smaller connective streets will be shaded through the use of pavilions and strategic landscaping. The alternative transportation plan includes a gondola that links each of the thematic zones and the central plaza.

  • Dubai 2020 World Expo sunshades
    Walkways are designed to shade visitors from the sun using large canopies

IMPACT. Populous has planned the Expo site and infrastructure to accommodate more than 25 million visitors from October 2020 through April 2021. After the close of the Expo in 2021 the Expo site will become a new neighbourhood of Dubai focused on innovation. The Expo will also create a new sustainable benchmark for events in the Middle East. Chris Lee, Senior Principal and Director at Populous commented: ‘International and major sporting events bring global exposure to spectacular cities and to be truly successful you have to consider the impact right from the start. At Populous, we are very proud to be part of the team designing the masterplan for the World Expo 2020, and I would like to congratulate Dubai and the Higher Committee on winning the bid to host Expo 2020.’

Project Team
Connect with the designers

Christopher Lee

Shireen Hamdan