As Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum recalls, the idea of Dubai we see today was born sometime in 1960s when he and his father Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum made a trip to New York.
They had already started to dream about transforming Dubai into a metropolis as they ascended the then world’s tallest building – the Empire State building in New York.
Both the legends returned with full of vision and enthusiasm to build New York or London of the Middle East and the journey began.
Dubai metamorphosed into a global, Smart, sustainable metropolis in the fastest evolution any city in the world has seen to date. Skyscrapers replaced date palms, and ports and airports mushroomed.
The city is now home to several world firsts and records. It not only has the tallest building and the largest mall in the world but there are many new, innovative developments also attached to its name. Be it the world’s first 3D-printed office or the upcoming Hyperloop that will cover the distance between Dubai and Abu Dhabi in 12 minutes.
And the city emerged as a global hub for tourism, logistics and transportation in less than two decades.
In the last ten years, under the leadership of Sheikh Mohammed, Dubai built its metro rail network and a new airport, and it developed Burj Khalifa, Palm Jumeirah, the world’s largest man-made island, a water canal and many other wonders.
And the city continues to grow and launch new initiatives the world is not yet familiar with but are futuristic.
Three years may not be a long time for an economist or a scientist, but in Dubai, a lot can happen in about 30 months. As the city gears up for the year 2020, these are the magnificent projects in the making.
Dubai has been in a race ever since the world bid adieu to Expo Milano 2015 in October last year.
The city will be hosting Expo 2020, the first World Expo to take place in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region.
The organisers of the six-month mega event are expecting 25 million unique visitors from more than 180 nations between October 20, 2020, and April 10, 2021.
In September 2015, the initial development of the 438-hectare site, which is connected to three international airports, began.
Al Wasl Plaza, the last major element in the design of the Expo 2020 Dubai site was unveiled on Monday.
Till date, more than 8,000 local and international companies have registered on the procurement portal for the event, billed as the third-largest in the world, after the Olympics and the Football World Cup.
Dubai started building what would be the world’s tallest tower as Sheikh Mohammed marked the ground-breaking of The Tower at Dubai Creek Harbour in October last year.
The new tower, when completed in 2020, will beat the record of Burj Khalifa as the highest skyscraper, which stands 829.8 metres (2,722 feet) tall.
A joint venture between Emaar Properties and Dubai Holding, the investment vehicle of the emirate’s ruler, The Tower will anchor the 6 sq km Dubai Creek Harbour mega-development, which includes plush commercial and residential projects.
Pile foundations for the new tower have been completed, the developers announced late last moth.
Details of the actual height of The Tower or how much the project might cost are yet to emerge.
The world’s first Hyperloop is under way in Dubai. The emirate’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) signed a multi-billion dollar deal with Los Angeles-based Hyperloop One to build the transport link, which will take travellers from Dubai to Abu Dhabi in as little as 12 minutes.
Dubai expects that vacuum-sealed pods that will run through reduced-pressure tubes at speeds of 1,200 kilometres per hour will be operational by 2020.
Abu Dhabi has also announced its plans to build a hyperloop link to Al Ain, which is located nearly 160 kilometres away from the UAE’s capital.
Dubai Metro extension
Dubai has officially awarded the contract for the $2.9 billion extension of its metro line to Expolink, a consortium of contractors, including France’s Alstom, Spain’s Acciona and Turkey’s Gulermak.
The works for the extension of the Red Line from Nakheel Harbour & Tower Station to the site of Expo 2020 have already started.
The extended line, expected to go operational on May 20, 2020, will span 15km, comprising an 11.8km viaduct and a 3.2 km underground track.
There will be seven stations, including a transfer station with the Red Line, an Expo Station, three elevated stations and two underground stations.
An additional 50 trains will also be procured as part of the extension, 35 of them to upgrade the metro service and 15 for the Expo service.
The project is forecast to run up about $2.5bn in debt so the government is in the process of finalising fundraising this year.
Museum of the Future
Museum of the Future is another dream project of Sheikh Mohammed. With its motto ‘See the future, create the future’, the museum was announced in March 2015. As a centre of futuristic ideas, technology and innovation it is expected to open in the Emirates Towers area on December 2, 2018.
The giant rectangular frame being built near Zabeel Park is going to be a major tourist attraction and an iconic landmark of the city. Construction of the AED160 million project began in 2013 and is nearing completion.