Direct Access at Expo 2020 Dubai


Expo 2020 Dubai will be the first World Exposition in the Middle East and Africa region this October. It will see the transformation of a 4.38km² site on the border of the Emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi to become the largest ever event staged in the Middle East.

More than 190 country pavilions will offer interactive exhibits, entertainment, and shows based on the three themes of Mobility, Opportunity, and Sustainability with ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ the overarching theme. The event is closely linked to the United Nations sustainability goals aiming to support creativity, innovation, and collaboration.

Expo 2020 Dubai will be open for six months from October 2021 to March 2022 linking with the United Arab Emirates Golden Jubilee.

Empowering People of Determination

Since 2018, Direct Access has led the accessibility design reviews and informed Architectural and construction firms on accessible design standards. Some areas of the site were initially developed to ADA standards until the new Dubai Universal Design Code’s introduction in 2017. The new Code was part of the vision of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of the Emirate of Dubai to create an inclusive city.

Our team of Access Consultants benchmarked different international accessibility codes to create an innovative Expo Access Guide that set out specific design requirements for Expo 2020 Dubai. From the Master Planning stage, this work evolved to working on a range of different projects. This included programming and curation development. As building commenced and fit-out took place, our team undertook site audits to ensure compliance with Codes and find opportunities to enhance accessibility post-construction.

As part of the one year-to-go celebration events, we worked with event organisers to facilitate the accessibility of the Maria Carey headline concert in Burj Park, Downtown Dubai.

All our team working on Expo 2020 Dubai are people of determination – the term for disabled people in the United Arab Emirates.

Supporting Sustainable Programme Management

Accessibility and creating opportunities for people of determination is one of the key elements of the United Nations Sustainability Goals. To support Expo 2020 Dubai’s objectives to host “one of the most sustainable World Expos in history” Direct Access worked with Expo to:

· Write the accessibility sections of the annual Sustainability reports.

· Identify opportunities to make sure that a meaningful impact beyond Expo 2020 through a legacy phase.

· Demonstrate how technology and innovation can improve accessibility for people of determination.

We considered sustainable urban development principles in our approach at each stage of delivery. This includes the design and construction of the base build, temporary construction, and overlay used during the Expo event. As well as legacy transition planning that has enabled Expo to meet global recognition for sustainable infrastructure.

With the thousands of contractors from multiple organisations working on Expo, Direct Access developed and delivered with Expo, awareness days, and training sessions to embed thinking about how to make Expo an accessible environment for everyone, contractor, and visitor alike.

Direct Access was part of the United Nations World Urban Forum in 2020 signing the compact committed to working with NGO and municipalities to create accessible, smart cities.

A Legacy

During the last 100 days to the start of Expo 2020 Dubai, Direct Access continues to be involved, supporting, and advising Expo teams on the ground to create an exciting event that is accessible to all. We are delivering training to frontline teams and managing discrete projects.

We look forward to realising after the event how the legacy components will enhance accessibility for children of determination in schools and communities across the United Arab Emirates.

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