Expo 2020 awards Dhs670m construction contracts to Laing O’Rourke

The British firm will construct Expo 2020’s Leadership and Media Pavilions, as well as the event’s ‘Hammerhead’ access road to Al Was Plaza

Expo 2020 Dubai has awarded two major construction contracts to UK-headquartered contractor Laing O’Rouke, worth a combined total of Dhs670m ($182m).

According to the UAE’s state media agency WAM, the company will build Expo 2020’s Leadership and Media Pavilions, as well as the event’s ‘Hammerhead’ access road to Al Was Plaza, plus landscaping. It will also be responsible for carrying out associated mechanical, electrical and plumbing works.

The 150m diameter Al Wasl Plaza will form the centrepiece of the Expo’s 4.38 square kilometre site in Dubai South. Designed by Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, the contract to construct the Plaza’s huge steel trellis dome was awarded to Cimolai Rimond ME in November last year.

Ahmed Al Khatib, senior vice president of real estate and delivery at Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “We are on track to deliver an exceptional site for an amazing Expo. We are delighted to announce Laing O’Rourke as the main contractor for these important two contracts. The company was selected from among strong international competitors due to its keen understanding of our technical and commercial requirements. It has a long and prestigious history within the UAE construction sector.

“These projects will be constructed in close proximity to the UAE Pavilion and other pavilions. This area is already a hive of construction activity, with all of these projects being built simultaneously. With this in mind, close collaboration between construction companies on site will be vital to coordinate logistics and ensure that work continues according to our schedule.”

The design and procurement activities for Al Wasl Plaza is being managed by UAE-based real estate developer Meraas.


Some 12,000 people are already working across projects on the Expo 2020 site – a figure that is expected to grow to 35,000 by early 2019 as construction reaches its peak.

Speaking during a visit to the Expo 2020 site, Ray O’Rourke, CEO at Laing O’Rourke, said: “The continuation of work in Dubai South is a great opportunity to showcase the strength of our Middle East team on Expo 2020. We are committed to local employment in the region, and innovation, through our approach to offsite manufacturing, building on the knowledge and experience we have gained in the Emirates over the past decade.

“We are delighted that Laing O’Rourke has been chosen to build these prestigious projects, and look forward to playing our part in the first World Expo in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia, MEASA, region in 2020.”

Laing O’Rourke is due to commence work on 28th January, and all shell-and-core construction on site is scheduled to be completed by October 2019. Expo 2020 opens on October 20 the following year and will run for six months until April 10, 2021. An expected 25 million visits will be made to the event, with 70 per cent due to come from outside the UAE – the largest proportion in the history of World Expos.