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10 December 2023

Dubai Design Week Records 60% Surge in Visitor Numbers

By E247

Dubai Design Week and Downtown Design, curated in strategic partnership with Dubai Design District (d3), a member of TECOM Group PJSC, closed its biggest showcase yet in attendance and programme scope. 

Dubai Design Week attracted tens of thousands of design lovers to the emirate and saw attendance up by more than 60% compared to the previous edition, underscoring the ever-growing vibrancy of Dubai’s design and creative industries and reinforcing its status as a UNESCO Creative City of Design.  

Dubai Design Week saw over 500 creative businesses and talents take part, while Downtown Design saw 300+ participants of which over 175 were first-time exhibitors. Brands showcased innovative designs, installations, and exhibitions and hosted workshops, pop-ups, and talks. Participating brands investigated how sustainability and design are shaping each other’s future across diverse creative sectors and mediums, aligning with the UAE’s Year of Sustainability and COP28 taking place at the end of the month in Dubai. 

The global creative economy has jumped up the list of global economy priorities. According to a report by Deloitte, the global creative economy has the potential to grow 40% by 2030 and contribute to more than 8 million new jobs. In Dubai, the creative economy has become a key driver of sustainable economic growth poised to double the contribution of the creative industries to Dubai’s GDP to 5% by 2025.  By the end of 2022, FDI capital inflows to Dubai’s cultural and creative industries increased by US$2 billion, leading the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, underpinned by the Dubai Creative Economy Strategy, progressive legislation and enhanced business frameworks. 

Khadija Al Bastaki, Senior Vice President, Dubai Design District – part of TECOM Group PJSC, said: “This year being one of the largest showcases of Dubai Design Week and Downtown Design is a testament to Dubai’s rising status as a creative capital. We are proud to be strategic partners of such a powerful platform for the global creative industry. From the number and calibre of participating designers to the programme of workshops, talks and networking opportunities, Dubai Design Week underscored the reach, expertise, skill and innovativeness of Dubai’s creative ecosystem.”

The d3 Architecture Exhibition kicked off alongside Dubai Design Week, creating a visual timeline of sustainable urban development and design. d3 teamed up with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Gulf Chapter to curate and launch this fourth instalment of this event around the theme ‘Sustainability – Past, Present and Future’.  Over 35 architectural studios (RIBA members or d3 tenants) are participating, including distinguished international firms like Fosters and Partners, Zaha Hadid Architects and UN Studio. The exhibit will remain on display until 12 December at d3.

in5, an enabling platform for entrepreneurs and start-ups by TECOM Group, presented The North Star, the region’s largest 3D printed exhibition by its start-up, Nyxo Studios. The installation represented the principle of guiding individuals in their goals.  

Also features amid d3’s walkways was THE CODE, an innovative art installation commissioned by Dubai Internet City to pay tribute to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Composed of glass sheets, the installation showcased Dubai’s heritage and its futuristic aspirations, interwoven with His Highness’ poetry to resemble coding script. The cylindrical piece all came together to form a mesmerising visual representation of the visionary leader when viewed from a specific angle. It will be permanently on display at Dubai Internet City. 

d3-based design university Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DIDI) hosted a parallel programme to the Dubai Design Week of workshops, rotating exhibitions and a series of design talks exploring the practical and theoretical applications of innovative design thinking. The Director of Technology at the Museum of the Future, Sundar Raman, led a session on the evolving demands and potential of built environments, while Rafaele Saporiti, the Chairman and CEO of world-renowned Italian interior design and furniture company Saporiti, talked about the shifting expectations of classic and sustainable furniture design. 

A legacy beyond Dubai Design Week

Select Dubai Design Week projects and presentations will remain on display at d3. These works will include the 2023 Abwab headline commission ‘Of Palm’ by Emirati architect Abdalla Almulla. This work will first though – as a contribution from d3 and Dubai Design Week - be relocated to COP28 for exhibition there, before returning back to d3.

Further works to remain are: this year’s winning project for Urban Commissions, Dubai Design Week’s annual design competition. Selected by a jury of design field experts, Ahmad Alkattan’s ‘Designest’ is inspired by the cultural significance of pigeon towers in the Arabian Peninsula, conceived as a series of intimate bio-inclusive spaces.  Also: Iris Ceramica’s ‘The Big Challenge’ oversized table tennis installation; Vertical Design’s 'Prismatic Dreamscape’ installation that invites audiences into a mesmirising world of duality and harmony using neon lights and sustainable concrete tiles; Moey Studio’s ‘Circles of Trust’ which discarded tiles are infused with renewed purpose; Kapil Bhimekar’s large-scale inflatable installation ‘The Reality Check’; and ‘The North Star’, the region’s largest 3D printed exhibition presented by in5.

The success of Dubai Design Week and Downtown Design follow on the heels of a successful year for d3’s global creative ecosystem.  In October, L’ÉCOLE, School of Jewelry Arts announced its first campus in the Middle East at the global creative ecosystem. It will offer a rich program of online and in-person courses and talks and free temporary exhibitions, publications and research projects.

d3 co-founded Dubai Fashion Week (DFW) this past year with the Arab Fashion Council to reinforce Dubai as a global fashion and creative capital. Stemming from the legacy of Arab Fashion Week, the latest edition of DFW kicked off with a presentation by international fashion label Carolina Herrera and its Creative Director Wes Gordon. It wrapped up with the original supermodel and icon Naomi Campbell closing the show for Malaysian fashion house Rizman Ruzaini. 

Dubai Design District is part of TECOM Group’s business district portfolio, including Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City, Dubai Studio City, Dubai Production City, Dubai Knowledge Park, Dubai International Academic City, Dubai Science Park and Dubai Industrial City.