Dubai has added a glitter-hem to its design, fashion and retail industry by announcing plans to establish a district dedicated to developing the emerging sector.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced on Saturday that the “Dubai Design District” would be situated adjacent to the Business Bay area of the city.
The district is expected to become a full service commercial hub for design industry-related organisations, brands and supporting enterprises within the value chain, a statement from the Government of Dubai Media Office said.
The statement said it would feature a custom-built creative community that would include purpose-built commercial and retail facilities for established and emerging designers, design institutes, a waterfront promenade, a convention centre, event venues and related academic institutions.
The new initiative would help Dubai to compete with fashion capitals like London, Paris, Milan, New York and Singapore, industry experts told Khaleej Times. In 2012, the Middle East was ranked the 10th largest luxury goods market globally and Dubai sits at the heart of this achievement.
Mohammed Abdul Rahim Al Fahim, chief executive officer of leading luxury retailer Paris Gallery Group of Companies, welcomed the move. “This initiative is a positive sign for Dubai’s retail sector, especially the fashion luxury industry, which is showing strong growth year by year.”
Being adjacent to the Business Bay, an international business landmark that hosts the offices of well-known international fashion labels was of great importance, he added.
“Dubai has the distinction of being the popular hub for fashion and luxury, and the proof of that is seen in the exponential growth of tourists that visit each year. I’m sure that this new initiative will give Dubai the glory it deserves.”
An increasing number of UAE nationals and expatriates are showing keen interest in developing their creative skills, which has resulted in rapid growth in the enrolment rates for fashion and design courses in the UAE.
Emirati designer Sumayyah Al Suwaidi, owner of Abu Dhabi-based Grafika Boutique which debuted at London Fashion Week last year, said the business of fashion in the UAE had come of age, growing rapidly because of huge demand.
“New Emirati designers are emerging every day, but unfortunately they don’t have a dedicated hub. They need a place where they can go and practise as well as colloborate,” Al Suwaidi said.
“This new district will serve as a place for a cultural exchange between Emirati and international fashion designers. They would be able to work together and learn from each other. Most of us are at the moment operating from our homes.”
Al Suwaidi said the Dubai Design District, to be operated by Tecom Investments, a member of Dubai Holding, would bring in more business for the nation as well as local designers because of the exposure it would offer. “Tourists will now know where to go looking for Emirati designers and their wares.”
“The Dubai Design District will be our fingerprint,” she said, commenting on the project’s mission to create more local and regional designers of international repute.
The district builds on Dubai’s strengths in tourism, which is expected to double the number of visitors to 20 million by 2020, and in retail, which is estimated to grow to Dh151 billion in the next two years, the government release said.
Landmark Group chief executive officer Vipen Sethi said the move would cement Dubai as a fashion and luxury destination. “Dubai will compete with Paris, London, New York and Singapore. It’s a very good, futuristic and visionary move. Long term it will be good for Dubai as a lot of money will come from Russia, China and neighbouring countries.”
Esmod Dubai, the only institute fully dedicated to fashion education in the UAE, said the wise decision would prop up the retail district with institutes of international standards that can produce enough designers to service the industry.
“While the UAE retail sector needs to stay ahead of its fashion market by dealing in international brands, which local and tourist consumers can also find in other countries, the need of the hour is to develop a long-term strategic vision to deliver local brands of professional quality to fashion-savvy consumers. Such a vision to develop a real UAE fashion identity that can compete in the fashion international market will take the nation a long way forward,” said Tamara Hostal, CEO of Esmod Dubai, a branch of Paris-headquartered Esmod International.
“Such an initiative will also attract worldwide buyers as well as professional fashion fairs, such as Who’s Next, that could put Dubai’s name high on the list of key international business destinations.”
Talking about the growing interest by UAE nationals in fashion design courses, Hostal said Esmod Dubai, based in Tecom education hub DIAC, supported its graduates free of charge through every step of their collections — from the design to the manufacturing process to start their own “Made in the UAE” fashion brands.