Dedicated to design

Dubai is seeking to establish itself as an international design hub for the fashion and luxury sectors by creating a dedicated design service community and platform to attract global talent and brands.

It goes by the acronym D3 –Dubai Design District – and it’s the latest high-profile creation in Dubai’s evolving cityscape. The initiative, announced earlier by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, seeks to establish Dubai as the Middle East’s key design destination for the fashion and luxury industries by setting up a dedicated district to strengthen its design infrastructure and capabilities.

Essentially a real estate development project undertaken by Tecom Investments, a member of Dubai Holding, the new district will have residential, commercial, retail and hospitality spaces to attract and develop an international design community to catalyse creative design activity to service the already flourishing fashion and luxury retail sector.

As Amina Alrustamani, group chief executive officer, Tecom Investments, puts it, “Dubai is a dynamic and thriving centre for creative design and we see the new district being home to global design talent and internationally known brands. It will be a platform to harness our full potential, offering businesses and individuals a dedicated community that will form the core of the region’s design scene, its purpose-built environment catering to the full value chain of the design, fashion and luxury sectors.”

Dubai’s credentials to host a core design community are strong. The emirate is an acknowledged fashion and retail hub of the Middle East and North Africa region, attracting regional and international brands as well as legions of tourists to its plethora of malls and leisure destinations. With 55% of international brands having a presence in the city, it ranks as the world’s second biggest retail destination after London.

There are other positives. The UAE ranks second in AT Kearney’s 2011 Apparel Index, which grades the most attractive emerging markets for apparel retailers, and the country’s total retail sales are expected to top $41 billion by 2015. Add to these a highly fashion conscious population with high disposable income.

Both Emiratis and expatriates have a keen interest in buying fashion, design and luxury goods and services. They are also interested in developing their design and creative skills, a trend reflected in the growing enrolment in fashion and design courses in the country.

“Our vision is to create a world-class creative hub that engages, nurtures and promotes local, regional and global design talent. It will be home to internationally established brands and a magnet to attract young and emerging talent. We hope to draw leading regional and international operators across the industry value chain to the district, giving emerging designers the opportunity to interact, share and engage with key players from the world of fashion, luxury and design. We see a virtual cycle emerging as the homegrown and regional talents increase their access and exposure to international end users, growing the market even more,” Alrustamani elaborates.

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