Dubai sets its eyes on design life
WOVEN ART: A visitor examines a stunning Qatari handmade rug
Home to some of the world's most iconic buildings and public spaces, Dubai is now on its way to becoming a global design destination.
Dubai has always been a great place for commerce, but now it is making an ambitious stake to emerge as the cultural capital of the region and one of the key cultural hot spots in the world. The opening of Dubai Design District (D3) is one expression of that vision.
Built at a cost of $1.1bn, the 21.5mn square foot facility is to be home to galleries workshops, studios and, of course, fashion stores. It has been positioned as key to the city's 2020 vision - the year Dubai plays host to the World Expo.
The city's thrust on culture was renewed after the financial crisis in 2010, when a conscious effort was made to reemerge as more than just the commercial capital of the Middle East, and fashion and design have played a key role in building the city as a cultural destination.
The city is already home to the largest luxury mall in the world, but it wants to be known for more than spending on international luxury. Already the Middle East has the highest per capita spending at under $2,000 and spends a whopping $7.7bn on luxury goods. There has been a flurry of activity in the style space. This month alone there has been Fashion Forward Dubai and Dubai Design Week, both supported by D3. But style has no meaning without substance. The question is: can Dubai purpose build itself as a design hub? Many indications hold out hope. D3 is now beginning to see activity with fashion and design companies moving in.
In its MENA Design Outlook 2015, with was commissioned by Dubai's Design and Fashion Council (DDFC) and research by Deloitte, D3 showed that the MENA region's design industry is expected to grow at twice the pace of the global the design sector. In fact, the MENA Design Outlook proves that Dubai has real potential to be a design capital. As Shaikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice Chairperson of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority said, "The findings also point to tremendous new opportunities for design professionals in the region as it is now poised to embrace both seasoned and upcoming designers with vast market opportunities within the different design segments."
SPRUCING UP DUBAI: Downtown Design was a dedicated hub for the world’s premium design brands across market segments that concluded last week at Dubai Design District (D3)
PLAYING DRESS UP: Designers and customers interacting at D3
FASHION FORWARD: Exhibitors take a break at D3