Dubai continues to leverage design and innovation to transform into a knowledge-based economy. We speak to the individuals helming the entities who are aiming to catapult the city into the region's foremost design destination with a global reckoning. To kick off the Creative Dubai series, we speak to Saeed Al Nabouda, acting director general, Dubai Culture & Arts Authority.
What is Dubai Culture and Arts Authoritys (DCCA) mandate with respect to developing Dubai’s design industry?
Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (also known as Dubai Culture), the emirates dedicated entity for culture, arts, heritage and literature, aims to enhance the established cultural scene and showcase the various initiatives that run through the year to highlight the city’s rich heritage.
The DCAA has grown to play a major role to showcase Dubai as a thriving capital for creative industries and further embed its credentials as a city of happy, creative and empowered people. This in line with the mandate of Dubai Plan 2021.
The DCAA has also been developing creative and innovative projects – locally, regionally and globally. This is being achieved by establishing partnerships through the organisation’s dynamic governance framework.
Furthermore, the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, is to curate an open-air museum, also known as the graffiti hub. It is an urban initiative that recognises local and international talents as they enhance the visual appeal of UAE’s rich heritage through murals across city walls.
DCAA is also creating opportunities and contributing to the diversification of Dubai’s economy by further supporting the emirate’s cultural tourism sector.
What are some of your initiatives aimed at promoting and nurturing local talent?
A number of Dubai Culture’s major initiatives are directed towards strengthening the cultural exchange between Dubai and the rest of the world. Promoting the emirate’s arts and culture scene internationally comes through collective effort and cooperation between the authority and various entities.
One of DCCA’s strategic initiatives in this space is the revamping of all the libraries in the emirate; the latest being Al Safa Art & Design Library. It serves as a dynamic platform where members of the creative community can meet, work, research and read. The library dedicates over two-thirds of its space to art-related programmes and galleries, while the remainder is given over to books and reading spaces.
DCAA has strategic partnerships with World Art Dubai, the Urban Commission competition, Campus Art Dubai, Art Dubai and more, which encourages talents to present their work and be recognised. Additionally, the authority’s key initiatives include Creatopia, a government-empowered virtual community and a national first, which promotes local artists aimed at driving exposure and personal growth.
Other initiatives that help boost the organisation’s mandate and support local talent include Dubai Design Week, Dubai Art Season and Sikka Art Fair, Dubai Art Season’s flagship initiative and the largest contemporary artist-led fair in the region to commission new works from the UAE- and GCC-based talents.
In addition, arts-focused programmes include Artists-in-Residency, a joint endeavour between Dubai Culture, Art Dubai and Tashkeel, which invites visiting artists to work alongside Emirati talents to create original pieces of work. Dubai Next is the authority’s international platform for showcasing the emirate’s rich cultural and artistic scene overseas.
What impact will Dubais membership of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network have on its design industry?
Dubai was granted membership to UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network due to a multitude of features that assist in attracting and nurturing the best talents. This membership creates healthy competition across the creative industries and will improve upon the ability to develop international design centres. It also enables our leadership and institutions to promote the citys growing cultural and artistic landscape to achieve a unified goal.
This prestigious network has opened new doors, allowing us access to design and innovation initiatives that aim at developing design industries, offering diverse opportunities to support companies and institutions for creativity in design. We are also confident that the membership will develop our national capabilities in this field, while attracting international exhibitions and conferences to the sector.
What are some of the new initiatives being championed by DCAA?
As part of the authority’s vision to be a platform for diverse cultural exchange and innovation, there are a number of collaborations underway that contribute to cultural relations on an international and regional level.
By showcasing Dubai’s culture to a global audience and encouraging a global cultural exchange through activations, the authority is focused on launching research initiatives, commissions, events, and an advocacy in order to drive such creative alliances.
The DCAA works towards stimulating a multicultural dialogue by nurturing newer ideas and modes of self-expression. Our vision is to sustain a global, creative and sustainable city for culture, heritage, arts and literature, and our mission is to empower the culture, heritage, arts and literature sectors to bring happiness to our society.
This is also in line with the directive issued by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, to support cultural activities within the country and generate the necessary interest to encourage such initiatives.
Dubai Culture continuously commissions local artists to develop and share their creativity, through the medium of flagship events such as Sikka Art Fair, Dubai Art Season, Dubai Design Week and Dubai International Arabic Calligraphy Exhibition, among others.
Our online platform, Creatopia, is dedicated to celebrating, inspiring and connecting Dubais creative community. Through its exponential growth, artists have received recognition by the authority and generated strong relationships with key stakeholders to further their personal growth.
We are proud to be a part of the success stories and to feature the works of some renowned artists who have been launched through Creatopia.