Dubai: Meet the siblings putting Emirati culture on global map

Jacopo Stecchini and Diletta Ricciardi Durand de la Penne showcase Emirati culture through a series of ventures in collaboration with the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority

By Sandhya D'mello

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Published: Thu 25 Apr 2024, 3:50 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Apr 2024, 3:53 PM

Jacopo Stecchini and Diletta Ricciardi Durand de la Penne, Italian siblings and UAE residents, have embarked on a unique endeavour to showcase Emirati culture through a series of ventures in collaboration with the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority. Describing themselves as global citizens, they emphasise on their deep connection to the UAE, which they now call home.

“We started the business in the UAE in 2019,” the duo explains. “Dubai has worked incredibly well for us as an excellent place to set up the business and a solid platform to reach local and key nearby markets in the region.” Their commitment to promoting UAE culture shines through their innovative initiatives, bridging cultures and fostering understanding in the vibrant landscape of Dubai’s diverse community.

“It is amazing to see this melting pot of different cultures in Dubai, which has become one of the city’s strongest traits,” says Jacopo. “We believe it is now important to express local culture and traditions. That is why lately we have been collaborating with Dubai Culture on introducing events that can have international resonance.”

Jacopo traces the beginning of his career in Shanghai 16 years ago, where he lived with his sister Diletta on the third floor of a building and launched his company, 3rd Floor. He says he and his sister drew inspiration to be entrepreneurs from the trials and triumphs in their mother’s life. “When she divorced my dad, as a ‘newly single’ mom, she put all her effort into founding a leading translation agency to build her independent life. Seeing her working hard through the nights after she put us to sleep and seeing her picking up the pieces to start her own business against all odds has inspired me immensely to set up my company at the age of 28,” says Jacopo, 45, who has been living in Dubai for the past five years.

He feels that when it comes to family businesses, the emphasis should be on growing the value of the business rather than focusing blindly on expansion. It’s not hard sales that works, but a network of relationships.

“I have always looked up to my grandfathers; they both had a common trait — they treated people who worked for them with respect while being strong leaders. That said, throughout the years I’ve crossed paths with many other inspiring leaders and business owners. Many of them, I can proudly say, are people we have formed long lasting relationships with. Respect, knowledge and experience work like a magnet and that is something I admire,” says Jacopo.

“In working with family members and creating that culture among your employees, one can be transparent and direct by questioning each other in a way that is not common in corporate business etiquette. You dare to think outside the box, because you know that your team and partners will dare to respond honestly,” he added.

Both, Jacopo and Diletta see themselves as cultural consultants. “Our aim for 2024 is to spearhead the expansion of cultural expression for companies and corporates. We truly believe business is based on people, and by deeply understanding their history, we can navigate modern times and lead the way of communication today. For us, that is organic growth, market resilience and unexpected initiatives. We aim to do that by offering innovative and breakthrough ideas to our clients. Creativity and trust run through our DNA,” said Jacopo.

Stimulating local cultural initiatives in art, music and design and creating a strong storytelling technique opens new doors and opportunities to communicate a brand’s identity to a global audience.

Jacopo spent seven years in the US dividing his time between New York and Los Angeles, where he studied and worked on campaigns for some of the world’s largest brands, including Diesel, Chopard, Tom Ford and Vespa Piaggio. He then lived in Shanghai for 13 years, where he founded a successful PR agency that links luxury brands with global government authorities and associations.

He arrived in Dubai five years ago, where through his company 3rd Floor Public Relations and with the help of his sister Diletta, implemented creative campaigns and events for clients in Dubai and Mena region. He has more than 15 years of experience and holds a masters degree in consumer advertising.

Fluent in Mandarin, with his deep understanding of international markets and different cultures, Jacopo has established himself as one of the region’s multi-faceted personalities. His interest in cultural diversity allows him to be versatile and adaptable, which is vital when operating in rapidly growing economies. He designed and executed the corporate communication needs of several participants in Expo 2020 Dubai and successfully created PR campaigns for luxury brands in the region.

His insight into the region’s markets, such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and down-to-earth manner are a great combination and asset. Jacopo is a passionate photographer, sailor, and lately, he has also become an AI researcher.

Diletta, 43, and a Dubai-resident for eight years is the co-founder of 3rd Floor Public Relations’ Dubai division, and is devoted to enhancing the brand image of international companies that want to break into or gain more traction in the market. Dubai Expo 2020 provided her with substantial fillip when she worked with clients from eight countries. “Since my first visit in Dubai in 1998, I had a good feeling about exploring the Middle Eastern culture,” she recalls. Working abroad in Los Angeles, Shanghai, and New York and travelling through different continents for over 20 years has helped her gain the capacity to adapt and interact with people of different cultures and nationalities, boosting her interpersonal and communication skills.

Diletta, a mother of two children, is a person with diverse interests. She explores behavioural psychology, writes short stories and has a special passion for sailing and skiing. She believes that music has therapeutic value. Aided with all these allied qualities, she successfully continues to be a bulwark of support to her sibling and providing his entrepreneurial dreams favourable tailwinds. But never does she forget to thank the ecosystem that has made this possible. “I believe Dubai has always welcomed expats with open arms. They have a sense of tolerance and friendship that I greatly appreciate. Dubai gives me a chance to balance my work and family life. Due to the many available resources, it is giving me the possibility to balance job prospects alongside raising a family in an accepting atmosphere where both personal and professional goals can be achieved simultaneously — something every working mom deserves!”


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