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UAE universities get students ready for careers in creative industry

Dubai - New degrees, diplomas equip students with skills to become strategic communicators and content creators, among others.

By Nandini Sircar

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Published: Sun 13 Jun 2021, 3:09 PM

Last updated: Sun 13 Jun 2021, 3:10 PM

Universities in the UAE are getting students ready for careers in the creative industry — at a time when a unique project is set to make Dubai the world’s best city for artists.

A recent high-level meeting greenlit the 100-day development plan for the emirate’s Al Quoz Creative Zone. Keeping pace with the Dubai vision, varsities have started taking steps to support students who dream to be part of the city’s creative industry. They are being equipped with skills to become strategic communicators, content creators, social media executives, journalists and even media entrepreneurs.

Chloe Bennett, head of Creative Industries at Canadian University Dubai, said: “The opportunities for creative professionals and students in Dubai have always been promising but are looking even more so after the recent and very exciting announcement about the Dubai Creative Economy Strategy. The city has always been forward-focused and a leader in terms of innovation, design and creativity, but is now taking very optimistic steps towards becoming the global creative capital and number one destination for creators from all over the world.”

Dubai’s newly launched strategy recognises the economic potential of design, culture and the arts, with a goal of raising the contribution of the creative and arts sector to the gross domestic product from 2.6 per cent to 5 per cent by 2025, experts said. Thus, to establish a creative hub and foster a vibrant creative economy, intellectual capacity and inspiring places for artists need to be developed.

“There is a growing understanding that the creative industries may require a broader skillset and so we have developed and launched a new Bachelor of Arts in Creative Industries (BACI), the first of its kind in the UAE, which was designed in collaboration with Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. The programme equips students to be creative leaders, add to Dubai’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and be a part of the Dubai Creative Economy Strategy,” Bennett added.

Several other UAE universities are offering courses that include substantial content on social media, as well as consulting and freelancing, which equip students with knowledge about the new freelance visas, business plans and entrepreneurial opportunities.

Joseph Nalloor, programme head for communications at Murdoch University, Dubai, said: “The UAE is a major hub for media and this is an ongoing process. The vision of Dubai’s leadership in establishing a Dubai Media City two decades ago is reflective of the long-term growth they see in promoting the creative industry. The rise of other free zones to promote the creative industry and economy is also testament to this future outlook.”

Experts highlight there is a growing industry sentiment and constant requirement for trained communication specialists in different fields.

“The need has only increased ever since the pandemic, where clear and accurate communications are imperative to industries and governments that have switched to online and social media platforms like never before. Since we already have such courses, we strive to continuously update our curriculum and introduce new units/courses to be industry ready and maximise such impetus to contribute to the creative economy,” Nalloor added.

As per a Unesco report, the cultural and creative industries provide nearly 30 million jobs globally, employing people mainly between the age of 15 and 29.

It’s also said that nearly half of the people working in the cultural and creative industries are women.

Dr Sanjay Batheja, co-founder and director of Capital University College, said: “With the extension of long-term visas, we as an education provider are motivated to include more programmes from the creative lines. Since our inception, we offer creative programmes like Professional Diplomas in Fashion and Interior Design. We have a technical collaboration with London College of Arts that allows students to earn UK qualifications right here in the UAE and expedite their journey towards creative success. We have also diversified and extended our creative programmes in the lines of make-up and hairstyling.”

Batheja added: “We are currently developing programmes that will cater to aspiring photographers, cinematographers, graphic designers, multimedia content creators and also in the areas of performing arts. Additionally, we have witnessed a rise in creative programmes amongst our students which have enabled us to introduce such programs through our partnership with international universities.”

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