Expo 2020 Dubai unveiled the UAE’s latest architectural marvel as the final piece of the Al Wasl dome – an iconic structure at the centre of the next World Expo – was lifted into place. The crowning moment came as the dome’s 550-tonne moulded steel crown was positioned on top of the vertical trellis, an inspiring feat of precision engineering with a margin of error of only three millimetres.
The dome, the jewel of the Expo 2020 site, and venue for a string of A-list entertainers, will form the largest 360-degree projection surface in the world, providing an unparalleled experience for millions of visitors expected to attend the first World Expo ever to be staged in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region.
The operation was a unique engineering challenge, according to the man responsible for its completion, Ahmed Al Khatib, Chief Development and Delivery Officer, Expo 2020 Dubai. “It was the most exhilarating day of my entire career. We had one chance to get this right,” he said.
Using GPS indicators throughout to ensure perfect alignment, 800 engineers and construction experts worked in shifts, night and day, carefully monitoring every millimetre of the process. Including the structures and equipment required to lift the dome during this process, the total weight was 830 tonnes – equivalent to 600 saloon cars.
The 130-metre-wide Al Wasl dome stands 67.5 metres tall – higher than the Leaning Tower of Pisa – and encloses a space of 724,000 cubic metres. It encircles Al Wasl Plaza, a structure that will be the heart of the Expo 2020 when the six-month celebration opens in October 2020.
The crowning marks a significant milestone in the delivery of the event, with all permanent Expo-led construction on track to be completed by the end of 2019.