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April 2016

As the UAE increases its importance on the world cultural stage it gives birth to a range of fascinating architectural projects in the realm of music, art and literature.

It is widely agreed that in order to be able to secure a sustainable future for oil producing countries in the region, these need to transition from oil-based economies to knowledge-based economies.

In this process, the creative industries play a vital role. Realising the crucial role the design industry plays in economic development, governments across the region are calling for investment into industries which provide a higher degree of economic value-add and which can provide long-term sustainable growth prospects.

In 2014, the Dubai Design & Fashion Council (DDFC) was established to provide the legislative framework for this fast-growing industry and platforms to nurture and support emerging local talent, and also, Dubai Design District (d3) was launched as the region’s only purpose-built creative community to foster growth of the design industry and cater to its industry-specific needs.

According to the inaugural MENA Design Outlook released by the DDFC, MENA’s design industry is a fast-growing market, gradually transitioning from importer and consumer of design to creator and exporter of design-driven products and services.

Furthermore, MENA’s design industry is on the rise and has grown over the past few years at twice the rate of the global industry, the DDFC claims, with a similar growth pattern expected over the next years.

The development of the regional design industry is undeniably in line with the strategy of countries and governments to transition towards knowledge-based economies where creativity and innovation are incentivised. The design sector is also an important source of job creation and entrepreneurship for the large regional youth community, says the DDFC.

Architecture & design

In the Middle East, “creative industries have played a prominent role in the cultural and economic development of the region for centuries, renowned for its unique aesthetic in art, calligraphy, music, poetry and literature, Arabic style architecture, woodworking and a range of crafts and jewellery,” states the DDFC MENA Design Outlook.

Today, the UAE’s creative industry thrives in part on innovative architecture, including on creating world class cultural projects. In the UAE, some of the most prominent examples of this include the Saadiyat Cultural District including the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, and the Dubai Opera.

Saadiyat Island Cultural District

Saadiyat Island’s Cultural District plans to house the largest single cluster of world-class cultural assets. In addition to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, TDIC’s portfolio of cultural projects includes the Zayed National Museum and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, both designed by Pritzker Prize winning architects. “They will be situated adjacent to Louvre Abu Dhabi in the Saadiyat Cultural District, which once fully developed will turn Saadiyat into a beacon for the arts,” says Moza Al Qumzi, Development Manager for Museums, TDIC.

According to Al Qumzi, the presence of major cultural projects is an important aspect of any country and it is very important to the UAE today and part of its vision for the future. “In addition to attracting artists and those who appreciate art in all its forms, museums and similar institutions offer the UAE a platform to highlight its rich heritage while also relating its relationship to cultures from around the world,” Al Qumzi says.

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