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Arabian Business, Thursday, Sep 19, 2019 | Muharram 20, 1441

Expo 2020 Dubai site hits major construction milestone

Emirates: The final piece of the Al Wasl dome has been lifted into place, representing a significant milestone in the construction of the centrepiece of the Expo 2020 Dubai site.

Enclosing a space of 724,000 cubic metres and standing 67.5 metres tall – higher than the Leaning Tower of Pisa – the 130-metre-wide domed steel trellis encircles Al Wasl Plaza, a structure that will be the heart of the Expo 2020 site.

Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of the Expo Dubai 2020 Higher Committee, said: “The crowning of the Al Wasl dome is a significant landmark not just for Expo 2020 Dubai but for the whole of Dubai and the UAE.

"This new architectural marvel joins a long list of inspiring designs that our country has created through collaboration, sheer hard work and the unending, ambitious vision of our leadership and people. It is another example of what the nation can do when it combines all its talents to such formidable purpose.”

Sheikh Ahmed, also president, Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, chairman, Dubai Airports, chairman and chief executive, Emirates Airline and Group, added: “Al Wasl dome will take a lasting place at the very summit of our country’s world-renowned architectural achievements. My heartfelt congratulations go to everyone involved in successfully completing this amazing engineering feat.”

During Expo 2020, Al Wasl dome will be the largest 360-degree projection surface in the world.

Weighing 550 tonnes of moulded steel, Al Wasl dome’s 22.5-metre crown had to be precisely positioned on top of the vertical trellis, with a margin of error of only three millimetres.

It was completed using a technique called strand-jacking. Including the structures and equipment required to lift the dome during this process, the total weight was 830 tonnes – equivalent to 600 saloon cars.

Eighteen hydraulic jacks, aided by steel lifting ropes connected to 18 freestanding temporary columns, were used to slowly raise the curved steel crown.

Working through the night, 800 engineers and construction technicians carefully monitored every millimetre of the process, using GPS indicators throughout to ensure perfect alignment.

Al Wasl dome’s crowning was the culmination of 14 months of preparation, beginning when the final pieces of the dome’s steel trellising left Italy in June 2018.

The name Al Wasl means ‘connection’ in Arabic, and Al Wasl Plaza will be the beating heart of the Expo 2020 site, connecting the three Thematic Districts and providing a focal point for visitors throughout the six-month event.

Al Wasl Plaza was designed by US-based architects Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture.

Expo 2020 Dubai runs for six months, between October 20, 2020 and April 10, 2021 and expects to welcome 25 million visits, with 70 percent of visitors projected to come from outside the UAE. Many of the 60-plus live events per day will be held in Al Wasl Plaza.

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