Design for life

A rendering of Dubai Design District

How the inaugural Dubai Design Week is one facet of a wider government-led strategy to promote the emirate as a leading international design hub

Dubai is gearing up to stage its first design-focused event as the emirate looks to position itself as an emerging global design hub.

The inaugural Dubai Design Week, which takes place across the city from October 26 to 31, is an initiative of the Art Dubai Group in partnership with Dubai Design District (d3), and supported by the Dubai Design and Fashion Council and the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture).

Held under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice chairman, Dubai Culture, it will mark the first edition of what organisers intend to become an annual showcase of design talent.

Dubai Design Week, which is free to attend, will offer a full schedule of cultural events, exhibitions and launches, bringing international design professionals and thought-leaders to the Middle East to discover the multitude of talent in the region.

The event has been described by Art Dubai Group as an “artistic dialogue of varying perceptions of design into a space to be discussed, admired, and or even challenged by colleagues, peers and design aficionados”.

Dubai Design Week is well timed given the Middle East’s design industry is now an important economic growth driver, worth around $2.3 billion in 2014.

“As this is the inaugural Dubai Design Week we have a unique opportunity to implement initiatives that will not only showcase the rich design of the region but will also evolve with the event for years to come,” an Art Dubai Group spokesperson says.

“We are collaborating with other Design Weeks from across the globe as part of an initiative, which will highlight emerging talent from Beijing, Melbourne, Istanbul, San Francisco and Helsinki, and will also have a regional alliance called ‘Abwab’ (Arabic for ‘doors’) showcasing design around the theme of ‘games’, exploring the element of play in various cultures.”

Venue-wise, the focal point of Dubai Design Week is d3, a purpose-built precinct dedicated to promoting and nurturing emerging local talent, which during the event will act as an “open museum” of design.

This thriving design district will also be the venue for Downtown Design, one of the fastest-growing design trade fairs in the region, which this year will double in size.

It will also stage the world’s first Global Grad Show during Dubai Design Week, which brings together projects from the world’s leading design design-led universities and includes an exhibition on design innovation.

d3’s chief operating officer, Mohammad Saeed Al Shehhi says the inaugural design week seeks to reflect the city’s “enormous potential” by offering a “level field for designers and design programmes”.

“It is our privilege to be able to share Dubai's vision for the design scene with its many visitors and participants - a vision embodied by d3,” he says.

“Together with our partners, we aspire to enable both new and well established designers, as well as artists locally and regionally, to thrive and succeed."

In 2013, UAE Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid al Maktoum unveiled his vision for a purpose-built design district that would nurture emerging local talent and provide a home for the region’s creative professionals.

As a result, d3 was conceived with a long-term vision to establish the district as hub for Middle East creatives to spearhead global design and fashion trends.

When fully completed, d3, located near Downtown Dubai, will not only house design studios, office spaces, ateliers and workshops, but feature residential, convention and F&B spaces, plus boutique hotels, located along a waterfront promenade. 

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