Dubai: Licence in 7 minutes, 10-year visa; why creatives are increasingly moving to emirate

The city has rolled out the red carpet and cut down on the red tape to help creators, writers and artists speed up the journey to realising their dreams

By A Staff Reporter

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Photos: Supplied
Photos: Supplied

Published: Sun 26 Mar 2023, 4:58 PM

Last updated: Sun 26 Mar 2023, 10:04 PM

Issuance of creative and trade licences within minutes, an accelerated business set-up process and 10-year cultural visas are among the reasons creatives are increasingly choosing Dubai to unlock the business potential of their big ideas. The city has rolled out the red carpet and cut down on the red tape to help creatives speed up the journey to realising their dreams.

“We have rendered it possible for creators to go online and obtain a creative licence in seven minutes,” said Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) and Member of the Dubai Council. “The industry is already contributing more to Dubai’s economy than the global average, and over the next few years, we foresee an even bigger entrepreneurial surge in the sector. Ultimately, we seek to create a global hub for cultural and creative activity in Dubai where people in the industry can come together to expand the boundaries of artistic expression and entrepreneurship.”


With the Dubai Creative Economy Strategy, the emirate has created an architecture of support services, incentives and business and legislative enablers to ease the journey of creatives across various stages of the creative value chain – from ideation to production, through to marketing and distribution.

The launchpad of the strategy is the Al Quoz Creative Zone, an integrated creative community being developed by the Dubai Culture in cooperation with various government entities. The aim is to transform the creative cluster that has been organically developing in the Al Quoz area over the past few years into a comprehensive industry ecosystem.


The Dubai Creative Economy Strategy aims to more than double the number of creative companies from 8,300 in 2020 to 15,000 by 2026, and increase creative jobs in the emirate from 70,000 to 140,000. Ultimately, the strategy seeks to raise the contribution of creative industries to Dubai’s GDP from 2.6 per cent in 2020 to 5 per cent by 2026.

‘Creatives’ Journey’

This scheme simplifies and accelerates the establishment and operations of creative ventures. Developed by the Dubai Culture and Department of Economy and Tourism, as part of the ‘Invest in Dubai’ platform, the initiative enables creative and talented individuals to launch their businesses within minutes. On the platform, creatives can choose the activity, define the legal form, pay for their licence, and obtain the establishment certificate issued by the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship through hassle-free online processes.

As of 2022, the ‘Creatives’ Journey’ recorded an 82 per cent increase in creative licences issued in Al Quoz and a 76 per cent rise across Dubai.

The ‘Creatives’ Journey’ platform caters to six main sectors: Cultural and natural heritage, books and press, performing arts and celebration, audiovisual and interactive media, visual arts and crafts, and design and creative services. Other fields branching out from these are also covered, including publishing, cinema, film and video, music, art, cultural heritage museums, historical sites, archives, cultural events, libraries and other related sub-sectors.

The platform offers four types of licences: Trader licence that allows freelancers of all nationalities to work from home; the Intelaq licence for independent professionals among UAE and GCC citizens; an instant licence, available to owners of start-ups across nationalities; and an SME start-up licence for Emirati and GCC citizens that provides exemption from fees for five years.

Cultural visas

Dubai Culture has also offered a raft of immigration enablers to help creative entrepreneurs and professionals set up a long-term base in the emirate. In the world’s first initiative of its kind, Dubai Culture offers multi-year cultural visas to position the emirate as an incubator for creativity and a hub for talent.

The introduction of the first-of-its-kind 10-year visa is part of the Dubai Creative Economy Strategy’s broader goal to enhance the participation of creators, writers and artists in the emirate’s knowledge-based fields.

Taking business to the next level

The infrastructure in the planned Al Quoz Creative Zone will help creative businesses easily repurpose or scale-up their facilities to suit the evolving needs of their ventures. Furthermore, the zone provides easy access to both the raw material and skilled tradesmanship necessary to run an efficient creative production line.

The Dubai Culture is forging cooperation with free zones in Dubai to provide business-enabling services to promote entrepreneurship in the cultural and creative sectors. The authority has signed an MoU with Dubai CommerCity to offer a range of support services for enterprises in diverse creative fields including music, fine arts, photography, film and video production, video game development, fashion design, graphic design, product design, interior and landscape design, architectural services, advertising services, and IT and software services.

The partnership offers a range of facilities, including workspaces, studios, conference rooms, exhibitions and logistics, consultation and banking services.

sahim@khaleejtimes.com

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