Last edited 19 Jun 2021

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ICPMA Institute / association Website

Expo 2020 Dubai

Al Wasl Plaza.jpg

Expo 2020 Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates Client: Dubai Expo 2020 Project Management Consultant: Turner & Townsend, UAE: Peter Day Senior Project Manager

Project Role: Seconded into the Dubai Expo 2020 to provide in-house project management services. Primarily leading and coordinating a multi-disciplinary team from across the globe to deliver a number of confidential pavilions and front of house event architecture.



The World Expo is a global gathering of nations designed to find solutions to pressing challenges of our times. In 2020-2021, the event was scheduled to take place in Dubai from October 2020 - March 2021. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the opening was postponed to 1 October 2021.

Event project management

For mainstream and event construction project management, both types of projects require a clearly defined brief, robust project plan, shared success criteria and best practice project management tools and techniques. However, there are some differences in event construction project management processes compared to non-event construction project management.

The event industry differs from the open construction market primarily due to the impermanent nature of the built assets in event construction. Due to this, the responsibilities for the design, installation, maintenance and removal of all scope associated with the built asset tends to fall on the contractor (rather than the typical collection of different organisations and teams). This leads to differences in the way projects are procured, designed and delivered.

Expo 2020's Thematic Districts .jpg

There are also subtle contractual differences. While the FIDIC suite of contracts are used in both instances, the transfer of title (and specifically the contractor’s materials and facilities) are often procured on a rental basis in event construction; title of materials and assets does not transfer to the client. This is due to the buildings and infrastructure being constructed on a temporary basis with the contractor’s scope extending into post-handover maintenance and post event removal.

There are also differences in procurement. The Middle East construction market typically favours a traditional procurement practice (full client design competitively tendered and awarded for the lowest price), which may lead to an adversarial environment. Conversely, the event industry uses more collaborative procurement methods such as design and build construction contracts and consultant framework agreements.

Dubai Expo 2020 has successfully adopted these collaborative principles which can be seen by contract sums and payment milestones being set early in the design process. Also, there are strong examples of integrated client, contractor and design teams all formally engaged to work collaboratively throughout the design and delivery process.

Final thoughts

General construction project management strategies such as formally engaging in commercial transparency and team collaboration early on in the delivery process provide projects and team members with the best chance of success across every type of construction project. However, it important to recognise that within each type of construction project there are subtle differences. It is important to be aware of them, be flexible and be adaptable to each individual project in order to succeed.

--ICPMA 09:57, 16 Feb 2021 (BST)

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