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Dubai: Dubai Municipality is confident that the several previously announced destination projects — spanning heritage sites, parks and biodiversity and iconic centres that are under construction or in design stage — will be delivered ahead of the Expo 2020, the hosting rights of which the emirate won last November.
“Not only will they happen ahead of 2020 — Al Fahaidi Market [for example] is already finished — 50 per cent already have started [their] construction, and 50 per cent are at one stage of design,” said Abdullah Rafie, assistant director-general of the planning and engineering sector at Dubai Municipality.
The confidence to complete the projects ahead of Expo 2020 comes in the wake of the budgets being approved.
The government body is allocating about Dh2 billion a year for smaller projects, such as parks and the revival of traditional developments, the senior municipal official said during a session at MEED’s Destination Dubai 2020 conference in Dubai on Tuesday.
This expenditure is in addition to the big budget investments being already made to upgrade and expand the city’s infrastructure.
Tourism-orientated projects that have been completed include Al Fahaidi Market and Naif Souq. Among others that are under construction are Dubai Creek, which has been designated as a Unesco World Heritage site, Deira Fish Market, Dubai Safari Park, Crocodile Park and Quran Park.
Those that are currently being designed are the Flower and Miniature parks, the Mohammad Bin Rashid Library on the creek, Boats and Fishing Tools Market in Al Barsha south, the Art Centre in Al Quoz and the Dubai Wetland Centre that will include a museum and visitor centre in the existing Ras Al Khor Sanctuary.
The focus on such a diverse range of projects is part of Dubai’s strategic plan to expand its tourism sector that has been registering strong numbers in the past two years.
According to Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), the city attracted 7.9 million visitors between January and September of 2013, which was a 9.8 per cent year-on-year increase. Dubai has figured on various lists of top tourist destinations, including the New York Times Top 52 places to go in 2014.
“We are expecting a lot of visitors and we are giving them new destinations,” Rafie said.
The Expo 2020, the DTCM said at the time of winning the bid, will have a significant impact on the tourism industry of the city and the UAE, which will likely see more than 25 million visitors between October 2020 and April 2021.
Talking specifically of the redevelopment of the entire Deira, he said that though plans have changed, the idea of a comprehensive make over of that part of the city still stands.
“There is a master plan for the area, the whole area will be developed,” Rafie said. “However it will be phased.”
Turning the Fish Market project in Corniche Deira into a tourist destination is part of efforts towards the proposed redevelopment.
Source: Gaurav Ghose, Financial Features Editor